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I am a Windows user who has begun experimenting with Ubuntu. Ubuntu seems great, but for all the things it seems like I CAN'T do.

How do I get to advanced administration stuff, like the list of drivers, all of the installed software, and something equivalent to Windows' Device Manager.

I always heard that Linux was supposed to be very raw, and you had to have lots of computer experience to make it work. This seems just the opposite. Ubuntu seems very modern and user friendly, better in some regards than any operating system I have seen.

Unfortunately, I can't find any of the guts of this system beneath all of the user friendly frosting... gunk... crap... stuff. I'm reminded more and more of an Apple computer (except Linux is more affordable :).

So how do I peel back this layer and start using the computer?

A solution other than installing Gnome 3 would be appreciated.

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Could you clarify your question? What do you want to do, exactly? – alnkpa Oct 1 '12 at 20:02
I want to view a list of hardware, manage drivers, and scroll through a list of installed applications, among other things that I could do in Windows. Please don't tell me I have to do all of these things from command line... – Big Endian Oct 1 '12 at 20:06
up vote 0 down vote accepted

For modifying configuration in Linux, you generally have two solutions :

  1. Modifying the text file where the configuration is written. All the Linux system configuration is written in text files (most of the time in /etc/) so modifying the corresponding text file will modify the configuration.
  2. Using command line programs that will do that for you.

Sometimes there is a program with a GUI for modifying the configuration but it is often basic and not user friendly, especially for advanced configuration. Linux (geek) philosophy is using the two first solutions (using the command line or modifying the text file).

However for basic configuration, Ubuntu has got some great tools like Ubuntu Tweak, for example. Its system settings panel (you can access to it by clicking in the right top corner and then "System") is nice for basic stuff too. MyUnity is nice for Unity in particular. If you want other tools, you may use tools which are designed for Linux in general and they will be less user friendly (cf. below).

manage drivers, and scroll through a list of installed applications

For Ubuntu you can still use the Ubuntu Software Center or Synaptic to see what packages are installed.

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Yes, great! I am so glad that I can do this through text files, that sounds so much easier than command line! I'm a programmer, not an encyclopedia of commands. Thank you! – Big Endian Oct 2 '12 at 1:34
The most difficult will finding the right text file for you. Remember also that it will likely require root access for modifying them. – air-dex Oct 2 '12 at 1:37
But these are problems I CAN work through. Learning all of the command line tools... ain't gonna happen man. – Big Endian Oct 2 '12 at 1:39
Remember cp for backuping the original file. It may be useful :p – air-dex Oct 2 '12 at 1:44
Sounds good, thanks. – Big Endian Oct 2 '12 at 1:45

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