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IT Services Linux Desktop - Introduction

The current supported version of the ITS Linux Desktop on campus is version 4.

This guide covers the basics of using IT Services Linux Desktop. FAQs and further information can be found here.

What's new in IT Services Linux Desktop 4

Desktop Environment

  • The supported and default desktop environment in the ITS Linux Desktop is GNOME Classic and documentation assumes use of GNOME Classic.
  • An annotated screenshot of the default desktop can be viewed here.

Logging in

  • Enter your ITS username and password.
  • You will need to sign in to the University website separately, remember to tick the "keep me signed in all day" box if you don't want to sign in again for the rest of the day. (See information in Web sign-on FAQ.)

Logging out

  • Open the System menu then click on your name, then click Log Out.
  • Staff are encouraged to turn their computers off when they are not in use. This both helps to ensure that updates are regularly applied and saves electricity thus helping the University with it's environmental targets.

Running Applications

  • Most applications with a graphical user interface are accessible via the Applications menu.
  • Command line tools can be accessed via the GNOME Terminal.
  • Quick launchers are available by pressing Alt-F2 or <Super> (The <Super> key is probably mapped to the one with a Microsoft Windows logo on it.)

World Wide Web access

  • The supported web browser is Firefox.
  • Firefox can be launched via the icon in the Favourites section of the Applications menu.

Email access

  • Thunderbird and pine are provided along with wrappers which automatically configure them on first run.
  • A webmail interface can be accessed via a link in the "Applications" menu.

Word Processing and General Productivity Applications

  • The preferred general productivity suite is LibreOffice which can be launched via the icon in the Favourites section of the Applications menu.
  • The TeX distribution is TeXLive. TeXworks and TeXstudio are also provided.


  • Networked printers are automatically configured based upon the machine's location.

Network File Store

  • Linux machines use your 'H drive' (the volume which is mounted as H: on Managed Windows Desktops) as your home directory. This directory is stored on central ITS storage servers and is automatically mounted when you log in. It can be browsed using the graphical file manager Nautilus accessed by clicking Home in the Places menu.
  • The best place to save important files is your home directory as the contents are automatically backed up.
  • Shared drives are mounted in /shared/<username>. This would be your 'M Drive' in Windows. There is link in the Places menu called 'Shared Folders' that will take you there.
  • The best place to save files you wish to share within your team/department is an appropriate area on your shared drive.

Local file store

  • You can store files on the local hard disk in the appropriate subdirectory in the /local (Pronounced: slash local) directory.
  • In /local there are three directories. You cannot create any new files or folders in the parent directory. The directories are public, localhome, and tmp.
  • The public directory is a shared area where any user can store files and edit permissions as appropriate, anyone can create files and folders in this area.
  • The localhome directory has subdirectories with the username of the user who can access them, you cannot access another users localhome and can only access your own. The system will store some things here which should be local, but otherwise this space is your personal space to structure how you wish.
  • The tmp directory also contains subdirectories with the username of the user who can access them. The same rules apply as with localhome and is used to store temporary files for your session, however this area is purged on boot so do not store anything of importance here as it can easily be lost.
  • Files stored in /local are not backed up. If you store important files in /local you must ensure you maintain your own backup copies.

Important Notes

  • For support queries regarding the ITS Linux Desktop contact the IT Service Desk.
  • Users will not be provided with root access.
  • The Linux desktops check for updates throughout the day and install on a reboot. If there are a lot of updates the boot/shutdown time may be longer than usual, your computer may reboot more than once.