Getting a PC running with Linux is only half the challenge, because no computer is an island. For most of us, computing in the 21st century also means communicating with the rest of the networked world. Fortunately, Ubuntu makes it easy to share files and data with other computers and devices.
Getting onto the network
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Wireless networking is similarly straightforward, though it may require some additional setup. Depending on your hardware, you may need to install proprietary drivers using the Restricted Drivers Manager from the System > Administration menu. Next, you may need to configure the security options for your wireless network, which are available by right-clicking the icon on the right side of the main menu bar.
That icon is your one-stop access point for Ubuntu’s Network Manager software. If you use Synaptic
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Sharing disks and files with Windows
The installation process should automatically have granted you read and write access to all of the files on your local Windows hard disk partitions. Be very careful when working with files on your primary Windows drive, because you could easily delete critical files that would be protected when running Windows. If you want to disable write access to your Windows drives, use Synaptic to install the package “ntfs-config,” which will add a control panel to the Applications > System Tools menu.
Accessing files and folders on a network is also easy. The Connect to Server option from the Places menu allows you to add network locations as drives on your desktop, including FTP sites and Windows shares. You can then browse these folders just like you would your local hard drive.
If you want to share files on your Ubuntu system with others on the network, you’ll need to install more software. Use Synaptic to install the package “samba,” then use the Shared Folders control panel from the System > Administration menu to set up your shares.
Ubuntu uses CUPS (Common Unix Printing System) for its printing infrastructure -- incidentally, the same system used under Mac OS X. It supports a wide variety of color and black-and-white printers, but as is typical under Linux, hardware support is not quite as robust as under Windows.