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Ubuntu and other Linux distributions often use a number of terms that are unfamiliar to Windows or Mac users. This glossary is a concise guide to this terminology for new Ubuntu users. If you quote external content, please add a suitable reference.
3D - Having three dimensions; height, width and depth.
See also: Wikipedia 3D disambiguation page, with many 3D related articles.
add-on - Software that can be added into an installed application.
See also: plugin
address - Text that specifies the location of a server which can be used to connect to that server. The form of an address is greatly affected by the server's relative location to the user. To connect to a server which is not on the same network as the user, a Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) must be used. An example of an FQDN is www.ubuntu.com where www is the machine name, ubuntu is the domain name, and com is the top-level domain (tld). If the server is on the same network as the user, then simply using www should suffice. IP addresses also function as FQDNs regardless of the server's relative location to the user.
See also: addressbook
address book - A file containing contact information for people, places, and organizations. The form of contact information varies between types of contacts. A person, for example, may have a name, a street address, and a phone number whereas a website typically only has a URL associated with it. Regardless, the phrase address book has come to represent any list of contact information.
alert - A method whereby a user is notified of an event. In a modern graphical user operating system such as Ubuntu, a typical alert takes the form of a dialogue box appearing on the screen containing information for the user to act upon. On a server system, an alert may take the form of an email sent to a specified address or an SMS text message sent to a specified number. The defining characteristic of the term alert deals with the fact that it conveys information to a user and not the method by which it does so.
anti-alias - The software process of smoothing jagged edges on diagonal and curved lines by filling in the surrounding area with varying shades of grey or color to blur the edge for a smoother appearance.
See also: Wikipedia Anti-aliasing page
applet - A program that is run by an application.
See also: Wikipedia Applet page
application - Application software is a subclass of computer software that employs the capabilities of a computer directly and thoroughly to a task that the user wishes to perform. This should be contrasted with system software which is involved in integrating a computer's various capabilities, but typically does not directly apply them in the performance of tasks that benefit the user. In this context the term application refers to both the application software and its implementation. Wikipedia contributors, "Application software," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed July 25, 2008).
See also: Applications
APT - Acronym for Advanced Packaging Tool. APT is the front-end for the Debian package management system and is designed to perform a variety of functions, including the automatic download, dependency resolution, and installation of Debian packages (.deb files).
See also: APTPage
Archive - A group of files which have been consolidated into a single, often compressed, file. Common archive formats include .zip, .tar.gz, and .tar.bz2.
See also: File Roller
ASCII - An acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. This code has numerical representations for 128 characters which include all characters on a standard 104-key US layout keyboard as well as 33 non-printable control characters. The character codes start at zero and go to 127.
autocomplete - A process whereby an application attempts to complete a word as it is being typed by a human user. For example, when using a Linux terminal, a user can enter the first few letters of a file or command and then press the tab key. The system will then show all files that start with those letters and, if there is only one, complete the file name for the user.
autohide - A process whereby an application will automatically hide a control of set of controls when not in use. Hiding usually takes the form of the controls sliding off the screen or out of the workspace and leaving a small tab visible. The user can click on the remaining visible tab to restore the entire control or set of controls for use again.
Automatix - Was a popular and controversial program written by an Ubuntu user which allowed other users to install frequently used packages in Ubuntu. The original developer has stopped work on Automatix.
automount - Mounting is the Linux word for the process that makes a disk partition available for use. Automounting, then, refers to a process whereby a partition is mounted by the operating system for the user without the user having to do anything.
background - A wallpaper image or color for the desktop.
backtrace - A backtrace shows a listing of which program functions are still active. Since functions are nested when they are called, the program must record where it left one function, to jump into an inner one. It does this on the stack, which we dump for the backtrace.
See also: Ubuntu backtrace Wiki page
bash - Short for bourne again shell. bash is the default shell in Ubuntu (and most other Linux distributions).
See also: Beginners/BashScripting
bootloader - Software that boots and loads an operating system. Also allows a user to choose between multiple operating systems - if you have.
See also: Grub2
Breezy Badger - Ubuntu's 5.10 release (October, 2005).
See also: Old Ubuntu Releases
buddy (instant messaging) - A slang term representing a single contact in an instant messaging application. A list of instant messaging contacts is also referred to as a buddy list
CamelCase - Also known as WikiName when used in a wiki website like this one. CamelCase is a way of making words where "...the first letter of each word is capitalised and the component words are concatenated without any additional characters between them..." This definition was taken from the Wiktionary definition of camel case, July 26, 2008.
Canonical - The company founded by Mark Shuttleworth to manage Ubuntu and other free software projects.
See also: Canonical home page
caption - Typically, a short piece of text that describes an accompanying image.
CD - Compact Disc, a type of optical media that can store information.
See also: Wikipedia CD page
CD-ROM - A Compact Disc that is Read-Only, that is it can not be written to only read from.
character encoding - A character encoding system consists of a code that pairs a sequence of characters from a given character set (sometimes incorrectly referred to as code page) with something else, such as a sequence of natural numbers, octets or electrical pulses, in order to facilitate the transmission of data (generally numbers and/or text) through telecommunication networks and/or storage of text in computers.
See also: Character Encoding - Wikipedia
chat - Originally referring to light, face-to-face conversation, chat has come to mean a conversation carried out over electronic means - typically, in an instant messaging environment. Multiple users carrying on an electronic conversation are involved in a chat room.
CLI - Acronym for Command Line Interface. A text-based user interface. The opposite of a graphical user interface (GUI).
click - Describes the action taken to depress an on-screen button with a mouse pointer. The term was originally coined because early mouse buttons made very loud and distinct noise when clicked. Modern mice are quieter, but the action of depressing a button on-screen is still called clicking a button
See also: Wikipedia Point and Click
clipboard - A short-term storage area in a computer's memory for holding data to be copied elsewhere.
See also: Wikipedia Clipboard (software) page
close - To exit a window or application. In modern graphical desktops, exiting an application or window causes it to disappear from the screen giving the impression it has been closed.
code - A combination of letters, numbers or symbols used to communicate.
See also: Wikipedia Code page
codec - A piece of software design to encode and decode (plays) digital data, especially audio and video streams.
See also: RestrictedFormats/NonNativeCodecs
color scheme - Configuration file that indicates what colors to use for certain widgets.
color wheel - an abstract illustrative organization of color hues around a circle, showing relationships between colors considered to be primary colors, secondary colors, complementary colors,
combo box - Combo boxes are so-named because they "combine" the features found in both text boxes and list boxes. Combo boxes are also commonly referred to as "drop-down boxes" or "drop-down lists".
command - A command is a directive to a computer program, most commonly in ubuntu directive to the command line via Applications> Accessories> Terminal.
See also: Using The Terminal - Ubuntu Help.
command line argument - A file name or other data that is provided on the command line to be used as input by a command.
See also: Wikipedia Command-line argument page
command line switch (or flag, option, or parameter) - Specially formatted data provided on the command line to enable or disable certain features of a command.
See also: Wikipedia Command-line argument page
composite (also compositing window manager) - A window manager that provides not only the traditional capabilities of window management, but also includes graphical compositing effects (via OpenGL), such as transparencies and window effects. Metacity, GNOME's window manager, provides some compositing capabilities. Compiz and its fork, Beryl, are two popular compositing window managers for Ubuntu.
See also: CompositeManager
compress - To make a file or group of files smaller than they were originally so they are more suitable for downloading, sending etc. Groups/single files are normally compressed into an archive.
See also: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archive_(computing)|Archive (Computing) - Wikipedia
computer - A computer is a machine that manipulates data according to a set of instructions. Computer normally refers to 'Personal Computers' (PCs) which is a general-use computer suitable for the average user.
context menu - A list of commands associated with an application or part of an application. The list is brought up by right-clicking inside a window or on an object in a window.
See also: Wikipedia Context menu page
CUPS - Acronym for Common Unix Printing System. CUPS acts as Ubuntu's print server, which processes print jobs from clients (users).
See also: Common UNIX Printing System home page
curses - Curses is a terminal control library for Unices. The most famous is Ncurses.
customize - To 'make something suit you'. In ubuntu's context, normally refering to customising appearance. E.g. Desktop background, theme, screensaver etc.
cut - Cut is a Unix command line utility which is used to extract sections from each line of input—usually from a file.
See also: Webopedia Computer Dictionary cut page
Dapper Drake - Ubuntu's 6.06 release (June, 2006).
See also: Ubuntu Releases
daemon - A process that runs in the background. Daemons can perform a variety of tasks, including network monitoring and creating system logs.
data - data is anything in a form suitable for use with a computer. Data is often distinguished from programs. A program is a set of instructions that detail a task for the computer to perform. In this sense, data is thus everything that is not program code. In an alternate usage, binary files (which are not human-readable) are sometimes called "data" as distinguished from human-readable "text".
See also: Wikipedia Data page
database - An integrated collection of logically related records or files consolidated into a common pool that provides data for many applications.
See also: Wikipedia Database page
DEB (or deb) - The file format used by the Debian package manager that serves as Ubuntu's primary package management system. DEB files (ending in .deb) are similar to Windows .exe installers.
See also: Wikipedia deb (file format) page
Debian - The popular community-based Linux distribution from which Ubuntu was created. In software engineering terminology, Ubuntu is a fork of Debian.
See also: Debian home page
delete - To remove a file from your hard drive.
See also: Wikipedia File Deletion page
dependency - Many software packages or programs require other packages to work properly and these requirements are known as dependencies. For example, if PackageB requires PackageA to run, then PackageA is a dependency of PackageB. Some package management systems, including the Debian system used in Ubuntu, are designed to automatically sort through dependencies with little or no input from the user.
deploy - The process of installing software into an operational environment.
desktop - A work environment provided by a graphical user interface, generally including a video monitor background, a screen saver, and one or more taskbars and icons.
desktop environment - A collection of programs that provides the user interface and manages the computing environment, including file handling, window management, application launching, and task management. Three of Linux's most popular desktop environments are GNOME, KDE, and Xfce. Ubuntu's default is the GNOME desktop, while Kubuntu offers the same great operating system with a KDE desktop.
See also: Wikipedia Desktop environment page
Desktop Environments And Their Principal Components
X Window System
X Window System
X Window System
desktop object - An icon on your desktop that you can use to open your files, folders, and applications. You can use desktop objects to provide convenient access to files, folders, and applications that you use frequently.
device - Keyboards, mice, tablets, track-balls, button boxes, and so on are all collectively known as input devices.
directory - A virtual container within a digital file system, in which groups of files and other directories can be kept and organized.
See also: directory (wikipedia)
discontinued - No longer supported.
distro - A shortened version of the word "distribution." Distro means a version of Gnu&Linux or other OpenSource Operating System although some people would argue that the term should include the various Windows and Apple OSes. Ubuntu is the most popular version (or distro) but there are many others such as RedHat which has been famous for servers. Ubuntu's specialisation is in helping people migrate from Windows or Apple. Most other distros aim at a particular type of architecture such as phones, netbooks, routers, servers and so on.
See also: Wikipedia Linux distribution page
double-click - The act of pressing a computer mouse button twice quickly without moving the mouse.
See also: Wikipedia Double Click Page
dpkg - Short for Debian package. dpkg is the core of the Debian package management system, and also a command-line tool used to install and remove Debian packages. The Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) acts as a front-end to dpkg, and most packaging tasks are performed by APT.
dual-boot - 2 or more Operating Systems installed on a machine in such a way that allows a user a choice between the different OS's when the machine is switched on (booted up). Typically people install Ubuntu alongside Windows so that they can choose which to use during a particular session to help them migrate to Ubuntu without losing the OS they are used to using. Many people have a multi-boot system but this is still often referred to as a dual-boot. The record is allegedly about 400 OSs although that's difficult to believe. Note this is quite different from installing different OSs inside virtual-machines.
See also: Wikipedia Dual-boot Page
Edubuntu - An Ubuntu derivative that is designed specifically for use in an educational environment.
Edgy Eft - Ubuntu's 6.10 release (October, 2006).
ext3 (or "third extended filesystem") - A popular file system used in many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu. The file system is the operating system's method of categorizing and storing data on physical and network drives. ext3's counterpart in Windows is NTFS (or NT File System).
See also: Wikipedia ext3 page
extension - A string of characters beginning with a period and followed by one or more letters; the optional second part of a PC computer filename. For instance the Portable Document Format files have the extension .pdf resulting in a file that looks like foo.pdf.
FAT32 - Acronym for File Allocation Table 32-bit. FAT32 is a file system created by Microsoft and used in earlier versions of Windows. Both Linux and Windows can read and write to FAT32 partitions, but the file system presents some limitations. FAT32 is generally slower than both ext3 (Linux's preferred file system) and NTFS (Microsoft's successor to FAT32) and it can only support a maximum file size of roughly 4GB. FAT32 also does not provide journaling, which is designed to aid in the recovery of data lost during a hard reboot, meaning that FAT32 can be more prone to corrupt files or lost data. In dual boot configurations, in which both Linux and Windows are installed on separate partitions, some users create FAT32 partitions to easily share files between the two operating systems.
See also: Wikipedia File Allocation Table page
Feisty Fawn - Ubuntu's 7.04 release (April, 2007).
firewall - a security system consisting of a combination of hardware and software that limits the exposure of a computer or computer network to attack from crackers; commonly used on local area networks that are connected to the internet. Firewalls can be implemented in either hardware or software, or a combination of both.
FLOSS - Acronym for Free/Libre/Open-Source Software.
fork - In software engineering, and especially open source software, a fork occurs when a new piece of software is developed from the source code of another. Forking often occurs when developers disagree on the direction of the project, although this is not always the case. Ubuntu is a fork of Debian and, as such, Ubuntu is reliant upon much of the hard work of the Debian team.
fsck - Acronym for file system check or file system consistency check. fsck is a system utility for checking the consistency of a file system, not dissimilar to the chkdsk utility in Windows. fsck will automatically run on every 30th boot of an Ubuntu system.
See also: SystemAdministration/Fsck
GConf - A system for storing user application preferences.
GDM - Acronym for GNOME Display Manager. GDM is the standard display manager for GNOME and Ubuntu. GDM provides the user with the initial login screen and manages the starting and stopping of X server sessions.
See also: X Window System
gedit - GNOME's standard GUI text editor.
GIMP - (also GNU Image Manipulation Program) A powerful image editing application.
See also: TheGIMP
GNOME - Ubuntu's default desktop environment.
GNU - Recursive acronym for "GNU's Not Unix." GNU (prononunced GAH-noo with a hard "G") is an ambitious project started by Richard Stallman to create a completely free operating system based upon the design of Unix. Although GNU and Linux are not officially merged, much of the software used in Linux is derived from the GNU project, and to reflect this, Linux is often referred to as GNU/Linux.
See also: Wikipedia GNU page
GPL - Acronym for GNU General Public License. The GPL is the free software license created by Richard Stallman of the Free Software Foundation. Ubuntu and other Linux distributions are licensed under the GPL.
GRUB - Acronym for GRand Unified Bootloader. Ubuntu's default bootloader.
GTK+ (or GIMP Toolkit) - A widget toolkit used to develop the GNOME desktop environment and other GUI-based programs. GTK+ and Qt are the two most popular widget toolkits available for the X window system.
Guest - The operating system which is being run inside a virtual machine.
See also: VMware/Workstation
GUI - Acronym for Graphical User Interface. A GUI (pronounced gooey) is the combination of icons, windows, and scrollbars that comprise a desktop. In Linux, the GUI is developed with a number of software layers, including the X Window System, a window manager, and a desktop environment.
Gutsy Gibbon - Ubuntu's 7.10 release (October, 2007).
Hardy Heron - Ubuntu's 8.04 Release (April, 2008).
See also: Ubuntu Releases
Hoary Hedgehog - Ubuntu's 5.04 Release (April, 2005).
See also: Old Ubuntu Releases
Host - The operating system (and computer) on which a virtual machine is being run.
See also: VMware/Workstation
HowTo (or HOWTO or How-to) - An instructional guide on how to perform a task or tasks.
See also: Wikipedia How-to page
icon - An image representing an application, file, device, etc.
IDE - Acronym for Integrated Development Environment. An IDE is a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development. An IDE will normally consist of a source code editor as well as facilities to access other development tools such as compiler and/or interpreter, build automation tools, a debugger etc.
Intrepid Ibex - Ubuntu's 8.10 (October 2008).
IRC - Acronym for Internet Relay Chat. A form of realtime Internet chat. It is mainly designed for group (many-to-many) communication in discussion forums called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication via private message. There are many IRC channels available for Ubuntu users.
ISO - The term "ISO file" refers to a single file which contains within it a file system conforming to the ISO 9660 standard. The ISO 9660 standard defines the file structure to be used for CD-ROM media which ensures all CD-ROM drives conforming to the standard can read data disks regardless of the operating system of the computer. ISO files are also referred to as "ISO images" or just plain "ISOs". An ISO file typically has the file extension .iso, but some operating systems such as MAC OS use the file extension .cdr. In practical terms, an ISO image can be thought of as akin to a tar or zip archive which needs special software to extract individual files although ISO images are not compressed. ISO files are ideal for distributing anything that would also be suitable for distribution on a CD-ROM. The main advantage of an ISO file is that it can be transferred over the network and the recipient can then 'burn' the ISO image to create their own CD.
See also: Wikipedia ISO image page
Jaunty Jackalope - Ubuntu's 9.04 release due in April 2009.
See also Mark Shuttleworth's announcement
JED - A freely available text editor for wide variety of Operating Systems including GNU Linux. JED is a simple to use but powerful CLI/Menu based editor designed for use by programmers.
See also: Wikipedia JED (text editor) page
Karmic Koala - Ubuntu's 9.10 release due in October 2009.
KDE (or K Desktop Environment) - One of the popular desktop environments for Linux. Kubuntu uses KDE by default.
KDM - Acronym for KDE Display Manager. KDM is the standard display manager (configuration device) for KDE and Kubuntu. KDM provides the user with the initial login screen and manages the starting and stopping of X server sessions.
See also: X Window System
kernel - The central component of an operating system that controls all of a computer's low-level processes, such as memory management, threading, and input/output. In a sense, the kernel acts as a computer's gatekeeper to the hardware. Applications make system calls through the kernel to request resources and to interact with the hardware.
Kubuntu - The Ubuntu derivative that uses the K desktop environment.
See also: KDE
Launchpad - A web site developed by Canonical for use in software development, bug tracking, and software support.
machine name - The 'name' of your computer. E.g. john-laptop, bens-computer etc. You can find out your machine name by opening Accessories> Terminal and typing uname -a. This should give you an output something like this: Linux <machine name> 2.6.27-11-generic #1 SMP Wed Apr 1 20:57:48 UTC 2009 i686 GNU/Linux.
man (or man page) - Short for manual. Linux provides a massive collection of manuals containing information about operating software, especially the command line utilities. To view the man page for a specific command, open a terminal window and type man <command>. For example, typing man ls will bring up the manual page for the ls command. To exit the manual, press q.
See also: man
Medibuntu - A third party software repository. "Medibuntu is a packaging project dedicated to distributing software that cannot be included in Ubuntu for various reasons, related to geographical variations in legislation regarding intellectual property, security and other issues" (from the Medibuntu web site).
See also: Medibuntu
memory - Memory is a term which when used in computer context refers to the 'amount of space' available to store information on the computer. There are two types of memory: HDD (hard drive disk) and RAM (random access memory). When 'memory' is described on its own, it normally refers to RAM.
See also: Computer data storage (wikipedia)
menu - A menu is where a group of items are stored. For example, when you click "Applications" you open the "Applications" menu, and when you click "File" in firefox, you open the "File" menu. Menus in computing are not disimilar from menus in restaurants.
See also: Menu - Computing (wikipedia)
Metacity - The GNOME desktop environment's window manager.
See also: Metacity
metadata - Metadata consist of information that characterizes data. Metadata are used to provide documentation for data products. In essence, metadata answer who, what, when, where, why, and how about every facet of the data that are being documented.
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metadata
metapackage - A package that doesn't contain actual software, but depends on other packages to be installed. This allows entire sets of software to be installed by selecting only the appropriate metapackage.
See also: MetaPackages
middle-click - A function of the three button mouses middle button. In the X Window System, middle-clicking by default pastes the contents of the primary buffer at the pointer's position.
middle mouse button - The middle button a three button mouse. On most mice this is a scroll wheel that can also be clicked for a third button 'middle-click' .
MIME - Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) is an Internet standard that extends the format of e-mail to support:
- Text in character sets other than ASCII
- Non-text attachments
- Message bodies with multiple parts
- Header information in non-ASCII character sets
See also: MIME (wikipedia)
MIME type - An Internet media type, originally called a MIME type after MIME and sometimes a Content-type after the name of a header in several protocols whose value is such a type, is a two-part identifier for file formats on the Internet.
See also: MIME type (wikipedia)
modify - change: cause to change; make different; cause a transformation; In computing typically done to file contents.
mount - mount file system. Accessing such filesystems is called "mounting" them, and in Linux (like any UNIX system) you can mount filesystems into any directory, that is, make the files stored in that filesystem accessible when you go into a certain directory. These directories are called the "mount points" of a filesystem
See also: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Mount
Nautilus - GNOME and Ubuntu's default file manager. Nautilus is essentially the equivalent of the Windows Explorer or MacOSX Finder.
nohup - invoke a utility immune to hangups. nohup is an application that is used to 'fork' off a command from your CLI.
See also: Wikipedia nohup page
nano - nano is a curses-based text editor for *nix systems. It is a clone of Pico from the Pine email client.
See also: curses
native viewport - virtual desktop environments do not offer discrete virtual screens, but instead make it possible to "scroll" around a view that is larger than the available hardware is capable of displaying. The visible part of the larger virtual screen is called a viewport.
newline (or new line) - also known as a line break or end-of-line (EOL) character, is a special character or sequence of characters signifying the end of a line of text.
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newline
*nix - This is slang for Unix-like or Unix-based.
offline - "offline" indicates a disconnected state
online - In general, "online" indicates a state of connectivity. "online" often refers to the Internet or the World Wide Web.
onscreen - Information displayed on a monitor.
OpenBox - Openbox is a light-weight window manager for the X11 windowing system. It was originally based on Blackbox .
OpenID - A user account that can be used to log in to a number of different locations/websites. Launchpad has an OpenID system.
See also: Launchpad OpenID Help
Open Source - Software released under a license approved by the Open Source Initiative. Open source software can be modified and redistributed at will (with some restrictions.)
package (or software package) - A bundle of software that can be installed manually or automatically using a package management system. In Windows, packages are often installed using self-extracting installers. In Ubuntu, packages are installed using the Debian package management system.
package management system - A piece or group of software that handles the installation, upgrade, and removal of software packages.
See also: package
plugin - Additional software that adds a particular feature to an existing application.
See also: add-on
PPA - Acronym for Personal Package Archives. Allow you to upload Ubuntu source packages to be built and published as an apt repository by Launchpad.
See also: Launchpad PPA page
Qt - A widget toolkit maintained by the Trolltech company and used for creating GUI programs. KDE is built on Qt, whereas GNOME is built on GTK+.
See also: GTK+
repository - A source for software packages. Repositories can be official (maintained by Ubuntu/Canonical) or unofficial (third party, such as Medibuntu).
root directory - In Linux, the root directory is the uppermost directory in the filesystem hierarchy. The easiest way to visualize this is with the classic example of a tree. The base or root of a tree is the source from which all of the other branches grow. The root directory is notated with a single slash /.
root user - The root user is a user with all permissions in all modes. The root user is similar to Windows's Administrator account. Unlike Windows, however, logging in as root is discouraged. Instead, users are encouraged to use the "sudo" interface.
RPM - Acronym for Red Hat Package Manager. RPM is both a package file format and a tool used to install and remove packages.
SABDFL - Self Appointed Benevolent Dictator For Life. In general, "BDFL" is an amusing term and acronym used to reference the originator and leader of some open source projects. In Ubuntu's case, Mark Shuttleworth is often referred to as sabdfl, and he uses the term as his IRC nickname.
Samba - An open-source implementation of the Windows SMB (Server Message Block) networking protocol. Although Samba provides a wide array of capabilities, its most commonly used feature provides Linux systems with the ability to share files and devices seamlessly with networked Windows systems.
search engine - A website or tool used for finding relevant pages on the internet. Some well known examples are Google and Yahoo.
security - Keeping your files, hardware and software safe.
security patch - A software or operating-system patch that is intended to correct a vulnerability to hacking or viral infection.
shell - Software that provides a user interface. The term "shell" can refer either to a command-line interface (CLI) or graphical user interface (GUI). In Ubuntu, a user can use GNOME as a graphical shell, or bash (bourne again shell) via the CLI or terminal.
software package -
See also: package
splash - In general, the term "splash" refers to either a "bootsplash" or a "splash screen." A bootsplash is an image that is displayed while a computer boots, and a "splash screen" is the image displayed while a particular program loads. In Ubuntu, the GNOME Display Manager (GDM) manages the bootsplash, while in Kubuntu, it is managed by the KDE Display Manager (KDM).
SSH - Acronym for Secure SHell. SSH is a network protocol that is typically used to securely log in to remote machines.
style - A plugin or small program that instructs the window manager as to how widgets should be displayed.
sudo - Short for superuser do. Provides a safe interface for non-root users to access files, directories, and system settings without native root permission.
See also RootSudo
sudoer - A user who is given sudo rights.
See also: sudo
super key - An additional key on most modern keyboards found between the ALT and CTRL keys that is often branded with a Microsoft Windows logo. Also known as the "Windows Key."
Synaptic - Ubuntu's graphical package management interface. In Ubuntu, Synaptic is used to search for, install, remove, and upgrade software packages. You can find Synaptic in System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager.
See also: SynapticHowto
tag - A simple word or graphic showing that something in a member of a topic.
See also: Tag
tar (or tarball) - Short for tape archive. Although the usage of tape archives is decimated, tarballs are a common file archive format in Linux. Since tarballs are not compressed, they are often used in tandem with a compression tool such as gzip or bzip2. The common file extension for a tarball is .tar, as in archive.tar. When combined with gzip, tarballs often take the filename format archive.tar.gz and when combined with bzip2, filenames often assume the filename archive.tar.bz2. Tar archives are mostly used for distributing source code of an application, but can also be used for distributing binary (compiled) applications, such as Skype and Firefox.
theme - A file that contains instructions on the settings to use for different GUI components.
Ubiquity - Ubuntu's graphical installer launched from an Ubuntu LiveCD.
Ubuntu 15.10 was released in October, 2015.
uninstall - To remove a software or application from a computer.
update - Updating your system is the most important part of security. In Ubuntu, updates are managed by APT.
upstream - The development team responsible for any software project. Most of the software available in Ubuntu is produced by a multitude of independent software development teams.
VI - The name VI is derived from the shortest unambiguous abbreviation for the command 'visual'. VI is a CLI text editor.
See also: Wikipedia Vi page
virtual machine - A virtual machine is a piece of software which allows operating systems to be run 'inside' other operating systems.
See also: VirtualMachines
Virtualization (or virtualisation) - Virtualization can be used in a number of contexts, but is most commonly used to describe the use of one operating system 'inside' another. For example, in Linux, a virtual machine can be used to launch Microsoft Windows XP in a window.
See also: Virtualisation
Warty Warthog - Ubuntu's 4.10 Release (October, 2004).
See also: Old Ubuntu Releases
widget (also GUI widget and control) - A widget is an interactive element used in creating a graphical user interface (GUI). Any part of a GUI the user interacts with can be referred to as a widget - such as a window, scrollbar, button, menu, or tab.
See also: GUI
widget toolkit - Programmers use widget toolkits to simplify and standardize the creation of GUI programs. Two such widget toolkits on Linux are GTK+, used by GNOME and Xfce, and Qt, used by KDE.
WikiWord A WikiWord is a word in CamelCase.
See also: CamelCase
window decoration - A plugin or small program that instructs the window manager as to how to display window frames.
window manager - A software layer that works with the X Window System to provide window management. Metacity is GNOME's default window manager, and KWin serves this function for KDE.
See also: Wikepedia Window manager page
XML - Abbreviation for extensible markup language. XML is the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) recommended standard for creating formats and sharing data on the Web.
X Window System (also X and X server) - The X Window System provides the foundation upon which all of Ubuntu's desktop environments are built. X handles such GUI tasks as drawing and mouse and keyboard event handling. In the simplest of terms, X serves as the foundation of a GUI, while a window manager and widget toolkit provides the framing, and a desktop environment provides the facade.
Xfce - A desktop environment often touted for its efficiency. Xfce is often preferred on older machines due to its minimal demands on computer hardware. Xfce forms the basis of Xubuntu.
xorg.conf - This file, found in /etc/X11/, contains graphical configuration details for X, including resolution, refresh rates, and graphics drivers. This file will not be used since X's release in version 7.3 (your hardware settings should be automatically detected).
Xubuntu - The Ubuntu derivative that uses the Xfce desktop.
See also: Xubuntu home page
Abbreviations - Ubuntu Community Documentation page listing the abbreviations used by Ubuntu developers.