Getting Started Class Teacher's Outline

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This class for the Free Geek version of Xubuntu 12.04 is generally taught in two sections divided by a short break. Previous iteration of this class can be found at Getting Started with Ubuntu 10.04.

Before Class

Check-in with Front Desk

Check in at the front desk, so we know you've arrived. Ask for the printout with students' information including names, volunteer #s, Portland residential status (yes/no) and if they are taking a computer home with them so you can prepare accordingly. You must leave this paper at the front desk to be shredded when you leave.


Please gather the following materials for each student:

  • 1 Monitor (If not in the back of the room, they are in the warehouse--walk in the warehouse doors and take an immediate right, the monitors will be on shelves on your right)
  • 1 System (found in the hallway outside of the classroom on shelves labeled Freekbox. FG-PDX for Portland residents/Freekbox for non)
  • 1 Keyboard (found in the classroom on the shelf or in Receiving)
  • 1 Mouse (found in the classroom on the shelf or in Receiving)
  • 1 Mouse Pad (found in the classroom on the shelf or in Receiving)
  • 1 Set of powered speakers (found in the classroom on the shelf or in Receiving)
  • 1 Power cord (found in the classroom on the shelf)

Be sure to note if the system has PS/2 or USB ports for the keyboard and mouse. If it has USB ports rather than PS/2 ensure you have corresponding USB accessories. These are often rare.

Make sure the classroom is also stocked with:

  • CDs and DVDs for drive and speaker testing
  • Items on classroom shelf or front desk


You may write the following agenda on the whiteboard or use the digital slideshow (it's not a bad idea to explain to students that we're going to do a bunch of "one time" tasks before break to make sure their computers are up to date and will focus on how they use their new computer after the break):

  • Introduction
  • Vocabulary
  • Linux History/FOSS
  • Put System Together
  • Create Account
  • Proprietary Software
  • Sound and Video
  • Updates
  • Break
  • Tour Desktop
  • Install Programs
  • How to Find Help
  • Q&A Time
  • Paperwork
  • Tech Support Tour

Section One


Who's teaching?

  • Give your name and explain that you're a volunteer as well
  • Talk a little about your experience with computers
  • Thank members of your class for volunteering and remind them that they can continue to volunteer even after taking their computer home.

Purpose of Class

  • Final quality control of all hardware/software
  • Ticket to one year of free tech support
  • Make sure students are comfortable using new computer


  • Ask students to silence cell phones and do not call or text during class
  • Remind students to be respectful of fellow students (ex. Don't disrupt when instructor is answering a question or teaching)

Student Introductions

  • Name
  • Computer experience
  • What they plan to do with new FreekBox

Encourage Questions
Encourage students to ask questions about words or ideas that are unclear or unfamiliar. If something will be addressed later in the class, you will put off answering it until then. If something is totally outside the scope of the class (ie. How to set up a CD burner), you can talk to them about it after class or direct them to Tech Support. Write questions on the board if you plan on coming back to them later.


Put the following terms on the board and define them with the class

  • Hardware - Any part of a computer you can physically touch (i.e. monitor)
  • Software - Sets of instructions computers follow (i.e. Open Office, Firefox)
  • Operating system - Software which manages computer resources. Without it you cannot use your computer (i.e. Linux, Windows)

GNU/Linux and Free Software

History of the development of free and open source software (FOSS) can be useful. Here is a A (Very) Brief History of Linux in case you'd like help with your "elevator speech."

Students may also want to know why Free Geek chooses Linux over other it. Some reasons are:

  • Philosophy of mutual aid and openness
    • Great for people who want to get into the "guts" of their software
  • Lack of licensing fees
  • No viruses! (Make sure you explain that common sense is still necessary--do not enter personal information into insecure websites.) contains great information on this as well.

Put System Together

Students should already be seated in front of the system they will take home.

The course goal is for adopters to know how to set up their systems on the own. Take your time with this step, and explain what goes where. Let students know that many cables and ports are color and size coded (generally only one place a specific cord can go). Encourage them to determine the correct placement of the various cables. Explain importance giving care to the plugs that contain pins that could bend or break.

Log In and Create New User Account

This process will completely delete ALL user information on the computer. This does not include installed programs, but does include all information saved under the user directories, such as Downloads, Music, Video, Documents, etc. If you are working with a student who has a computer they have used before the class, make sure they understand this before completing the following steps.

  • Have students log in by clicking on Default and entering the password: freegeek.
  • To create user account, have students click on Menu --> System --> Prepare for shipping to end user.
  • Students must restart their systems at this point to set up their own user accounts. Have them follow the instructions on the screen (language select, time zone etc). ** Note: if the timezone doesn't automatically set to Los Angeles, then check for an internet connection. **
  • Once they're logged in, go over interface vocabulary and basic ideas in Ubuntu (panel, icon, desktop, tooltip, menu).
  • If you can not find "Prepare for shipping to end user" please read Prepare for Shipping to End User Wiki page.

Flash, Java, and DVD Software

Explain to students that they now have the option to add software that will allow them to play DVDs and other music and movie formats. This software is not installed by default because of licensing and legal issues, but it is not likely they could have any issues by installing the software. If they are concerned about the legal issues, they do not have to install these components, but they may have trouble viewing or listening to certain media. More details for these steps (and a screenshot) can be found at Multimedia and DVDs in Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install -y vlc xubuntu-restricted-extras libdvdread4 && sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/
  • Go to Menu->Accessories->Terminal Emulator and type or (preferably) paste the above exactly as it appears and hit enter. Enter your password (note that it will not look like you're typing anything) and hit enter.
  • After going through some processes a blue screen will require your input. Hit the “tab” button to get to “OK” and then hit enter. On the next blue screen hit tab again to get to “Yes” and hit enter.

This procedure adds a second media player (VLC) which will appear in Applications>Sound and Video as well as Java, Quicktime, Microsoft fonts and some other media helpers and plugins. The installation may appear to stall part way through. Be patient.

Test Flash and Java

Test that the restricted extras package (which includes Flash and Java support) was properly installed by going to Have students quickly search for and play a video.


Pass out a CD and DVD to each student in order to explain use as well as test the drives and speakers. Encourage students to eject discs through software. Perhaps show how to unmount the drive should the software get confused when ejecting from hardware.

Updates Part One

Explain what updates are and that they are an important step in keeping their computer running properly. Generally an icon will appear notifying them of Updates. Show students how to check for updates by clicking on Menu --> System --> Update Manager. Students can take a break while computer is updating.


Take a coffee/water/tea/bathroom break. Be sure to give the students a specific time to come back to class (5-10 minutes is usually good). This might be a good time to take care of any issues that arose when testing/updating the computers.

Section Two

Updates Part Two

Have students click on "Check" in the Update Manager window, and install any new updates. (There may be several given that boxes can sit for a time on the shelves. Use the installation time to ask for questions, explain easier concepts or start to explore the desktop).

Tour the Desktop

Bottom Panel
When your mouse cursor touches the bottom edge of the screen, a panel will appear. This panel is very similiar to the dock on a Mac. You can add and remove launchers, make it bigger or smaller, an even make it so it stay on the screen at all times. These are some of the things on this panel, from right to left:

  • Trash bin - We will come back to this later
  • A bunch of application launchers - Click on any two to see what happens
  • Show desktop - With the windows open, click on this icon. Click on it again to return the windows to their location

You can edit any of the panels (the one on the bottom, the one on the top, or any that you add to the sides of the screen) by right-clicking on a panel, hovering over "Panel" and then selecting "Panel Preferences." Show students what happens when they change aspects of the display, appearance and items using the tabs at the top of the input box. Note that each individual program is called "Launcher" in the Items tab, but if you double click on one, it will give you more information.

Top Panel
From right to left:

  • Username on the top right of the screen
  • Workspace switcher
    • By default, there are two Workspaces shown. Users can add more Workspaces by selecting Menu -> Settings -> Settings Manager, then Workspaces.
  • Date and time to the left of the power button
    • Have students click on the date and time to display the calendar
  • Internet status connection - Ask students to unplug ethernet cable to see what it looks like when connected and not connected to the Internet.
  • Thunderbird mail/Pidgin Internet Messenger program - Students must already have an account (or signup for a new one) to use these programs.
  • Speaker Status - Show students how to raise, lower and mute their sound.
  • Teacher's computer shows a projector icon, but student computers will not have this.

  • Places = Directories (documents, etc) - Students Places folder will not show all of the folders in their Home Directory until you click on one of the folders in this drop-down.

Below needs to be updated for 12.04

  • Menu -> Settings - Hover over each of the items to show students tooltips.
    • Main Menu - Show students that they can change the items that show on this menu. They won't want to do this now, but may want to know how for later.
    • Settings Manager - Introduce students to the Settings Manager where they can change the following
      • Appearance - Change look of various windows
      • Desktop - Change Desktop Background
      • Screensaver - Choose and activate screensaver
      • Power Manager - Choose "On AC" and the "Monitor" tab and show students how to change display timout
      • Preferred Applications - If students add another browser or mail reader, they can choose their default here
    • Acknowledge the following:
      • Display for changing resolution
      • Mouse and Touchpad for left-handed students or those having trouble with double-click speed
  • Menu -> System - Show students how they can change settings specific to them. You can select any/all that you feel are appropriate for your class based on their stated uses at the beginning of the class
    • Users and Groups Adding a guest account
      • See if anyone plans on adding a guest account or family members. If not, simply acknowledge existence.
    • Acknowledge the following:
      • Printing to add and troubleshoot printers
      • Update Manager. Refer to previous update and reiterate importance.
  • Applications = Programs
    • Accessories
      • Calculator
      • Screen Shot--take a screen shot and explain that they can use this tool to send an error message/anomaly to tech support. Have students save the screenshot in their "Pictures" folder and then go find it again. After they have found the picture, show them how to put it in the trash.
      • Terminal Emulator -- explain that they should know where the terminal is as they will need to access the terminal if they contact tech support by phone. If you know some command line, and have the time, feel free to show students around a little.
    • Games - Tell students we will show them how to add new games shortly.
    • Graphics
      • gThumb - To view and organize photos Photo Manager
      • Gimp
    • Internet -
      • Firefox web browser
      • Pidgin Internet Messenger
    • Multimedia
      • gmusicbrowser - control music
      • Xfburn - Burn CDs and DVDs
    • Office
      • Dictionary--only available when online :(
      • LibreOffice Writer
        • Explain what a word processor is, and some common uses (email, letters, etc).
        • Make sure they're comfortable with what's in front of them. Have them open up the word processor to show them title bar, scroll bar, maximize, minimize, etc.
        • LibreOffice is a lot like MS Office (skills are transferable, whether they've used it before or not), and can be used to read & write MS Office-type files. Encourage them to play around with it a little, and demonstrate spell check, etc. Point out the help menu.
        • Have students set the default save type to ".doc". Tools -> Options -> Load/Save -> General -> Save files as (select Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP). This makes it easier for them to share their files. You can direct students to click on "Save files as" option and press the up arrow once to get to Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP. It is also helpful to make these same changes for Spreadsheet and Presentation. Conveniently, it takes one up arrow to change Text Document, two up arrows to change Spreadsheet and three up arrows to change Presentation.
        • Bring students together to save a file; point out how to tell where the file is going to be saved, and how to select different file types. This can also be used as an example of a dialog window. Save the file. Once saved, show students how to find and delete their document (using a different method than the one demonstrated above).

Install Programs

Go to Applications --> Ubuntu Software Center. Explain that this is a place to find thousands of free programs. Perhaps have the students search for something that interests them and install. If people are unsure what to install, recommend Tux Typing or Klavaro (typing tutors).

How to Get Help

  • Talk about finding documentation on their computer and online (ex. PLUG, Ubuntu Pocket Guide)
  • Have them open up Firefox and bookmark the following:
  • Take additional classes at Free Geek -- a great followup to this class is our Linux Open Questions class.
  • Explain tech support policy: we'll support your computer for one year as long as:
    • The system has not been modified (except by Free Geek) and
    • The system has been used as intended regularly since adoption and
    • The system has been used by the original Adopter or someone else who has taken the Adoption class at Free Geek.
    • Tech Support can be reached through the main Free Geek number at 503-232-9350. It is currently available Tue-Sat from 12-6pm.
  • The FreekiWiki has lots of helpful information on upgrades and troubleshooting
  • Help on the desktop
  • Ubuntu for Non Geeks reference book

Intermediate/Advanced class options

If there is time, instructors are invited to teach more advanced material like burning a CD, using an iPod with Linux, a short Gimp tutorial or any other materials that would be of interest to your class. This is at the discretion of the teacher but should not continue beyond the scheduled end of class as students may have other responsibilities or the room may need to be vacated for another use. Have fun!


Most people want to get on the internet. Is the computer Internet-ready? It depends on the type of service the student chooses. Freekboxen are ready for most types of Internet service. The exceptions are listed below:

  • Dialup Internet--the student will need to have Tech Support install a modem
  • Wireless Internet--the student will need to purchase a wireless card and have Tech Support install it

Define ISP. Explain why some will work with Linux and some won't. A Freekbox friendly ISP is Coho 503-647-5957. They currently offer a FreekBox discount rate of $12.95 for dialup. Free Geek provides the setup and tech support needs through our tech support office.

If students would like another option, remind them that they can contact their local library (in person, via phone and online) for help finding local service providers that meet their individual requirements.

Log Out and Shut Down

Explain that logging out and shutting down should be completed through the software rather than hardware.

Post Class Survey (we are not currently doing this)

As a final step of the class, please ask students to take a few minutes to complete the Adoption survey:

Disbursement Paperwork

Fill out the Printme taped to the system. An example can be found taped to the front board. Be sure to check off "Took Class."

Tech Support Card

Tech Support Cards can be found on the shelf. Write expiration date and system ID (found on Printme taped to the system) on card and give to student. Explain that he or she should keep this card and use it to when calling/visiting Tech Support.

Tech Support Tour

Take the students to the Tech Support desk. Introduce them as new adopters. Explain that the students will want to call or visit Tech Support should problems arise.

Pack-up Time

Help students pack up. If needed borrow carts from Receiving. If students must leave an item for later retrieval, be sure to put their name and the current date on it. Stress that items left longer than one week may be returned to Free Geek.

After the Class

  • Make sure the disbursement paperwork is filled out and take it to the donor desk up front.
  • Make sure the class space is as clean or cleaner than you found it.
  • If a student uses the "Prepare for shipping to end user" function of the computer but is not taking it home with them, please complete a Tech-Support-to-Build Form. Include your name, the date and check off the "no known issues" line. Bring the system to the Build room with form attached.
  • Take any systems that failed during the class to the front desk. Ask the person working at the front desk to complete a tech support ticket for the system. Provide as much information for the ticket as possible. The person at the front desk will then take the system to tech support.
  • Make sure systems being held for transportation are labeled with name, phone and expected time of pickup. (Adopters need to pick up their systems within one week.)
  • Please fill out the teacher's survey at

When students are NOT getting computers (they already got one, store customer, etc.)

  • Please check off "This systems has no known issues" on the Tech-Support-to-Build Form, tape it to the computer and put the computer on the Build Program QC shelves.

When computers won't work properly

  • Troubleshoot to your comfort level
  • Seek assistance in tech support. Let the technician know you are from an Adoption Class and require immediate assistance.
  • If a tech support worker is not available, and if you can't fix the problem yourself, set the computer aside, grab another for the class. Then after class, take problem computer to the tech support office and complete an intake form. Indicate what was problematic. Place in tech support office.