I see lots of words like "Super", "LTS", "Launcher" and others, and I'd like to know what they all mean.

What common jargon is there - and what does it mean?


Please edit this CW post to add new info that hasn't been covered. Try to keep it in sensible categories.

All images are clickable to make them larger.

This list was divided in three cateogies:

  1. UI elements and Interaction
  2. Technical
  3. General Jargon

1. UI elements and Interaction


The Super Key is the equivalent to the Windows key on a keyboard, between Ctrl and Alt. We call it the Super Key because on a Mac it's the Command key, on Linux it varies and on Windows it is the Windows key:

Ubuntu key


This is the "Dock" at the side of the screen where you access your applications. You can add and remove programs from it, and it will also show mounted USB pen drives and CDs / DVDs.

See questions tagged

Dash / Show applications

The way to search Ubuntu for applications and documents. This also has the full list of installed applications - whereas the dock has a user defined subset of these.

On Windows, this is the start menu, and on OSX this is Spotlight:

betanews and MacStories

Panel / Notification Bar

This is the bar in the top of your screen.

Home Directory

The place with all your files. It will contain Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Public, Templates and Videos. It is found in /home/username.

Ubuntu Software

This is the place to install Applications.

It acts as a graphical way to install programs from a safe place. It is like the App Store on OSX or the Store on Windows 8 +

Unity / Desktop Environment / Window Manager

The default Window Manager in (Vanilla) Ubuntu. This is what you see when you start up your computer and login:

This is GNOME Shell. Other Desktop Environments include Unity (17.04 and below), XFCE and KDE. There are more.

2. Technical

Dual Boot

Installing both Ubuntu and another Operating system (or version of Ubuntu) on the same computer. This can be achieved by installing on separate hard drives, or by partitioning one hard drive.

When installing Ubuntu, the current operating systems should be detected, and it will offer to install Ubuntu alongside it:

Image to installation types

Flavour / Distribution / Distro

Ubuntu is open source, which means anyone can take the code and change it or modify it and give it to other people. Some distributions include Ubuntu GNOME, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Ubuntu MATE and Ubuntu Touch for mobile. The whole list can be found here.


The processor type - 32 or 64 bit. This determines the download - either i386 or amd64.

64 bit processors can run 32 bit operating systems and programs, but not the other way round. Most modern computers are 64 bit, hence this is the recommended type to download.

Terminal / Command Line / TTY** and **Commands

The terminal is the graphical interface to the command line, with which you can execute commands.

This could be launching an application like firefox, removing a file with the rm command or searching through a file with cat and grep or sed.

TTY is also a command line - just a non graphical one. Note that you have to login to use this one. In fact, you do with the Terminal - you did it when you signed into your account.

Bash and Shell

Bash is the default shell in many Linux distributions. It stands for Bourne-Again SHell, and is Bourne shell with many additions. Shell is a command interpreter that executes commands.


This is Ubuntu independent - the BIOS is built into every computer for setting up the basics - like choosing which hard drive to use and power management.


A repository is a software archive with programs that support Ubuntu in them. These are split into Main, Restricted, Universe and Multiverse. These simply contain different classes of programs - for example Multiverse is paid software, and Main is supported by Canonical.

See the Ubuntu Wiki for more information

3. General Jargon


Releases, or versions are each new iteration of Ubuntu. Currently, a new version is released every 6 months, in April and October. The version number (for example 14.04) tells you when it was released:

They also have a codename - for example 14.04 is Trusty Tahr. 14.10 was Utopic Unicorn - they go down the alphabet.

LTS - Long Term Support** also **LTS Release

LTS stands for Long Term Support. ¼ of Ubuntu releases are LTS releases - once every 2 years. The cycle is a follows:

16.04 - April 2016, LTS
16.10 - October 2016
17.04 - April 2017
17.10 - October 2017
18.04 - April 2018, LTS
18.10 - October 2018
19.04 - April 2019
19.10 - October 2019
20.04 - April 2020, LTS

The version numbers are simply examples. LTS releases are supported for 5 years from the release date (meaning you can upgrade to the next LTS release, or even the one after that). A non LTS release is supported for 9 months, so you have time to get the next release before it is EoL (see below).

Supported means it gets security and other updates from canonical. It is highly recommended that you use a supported release.

EoL - End of Life

When a release is no longer supported, it becomes End of Life. See above for what changes.

Open source

Ubuntu is open source. This means the source code of it is available for modification or enhancement by anyone.

Package Manager

The package manager (DPKG in Ubuntu) is a built-in utility designed to streamline app management. You can browse, install, and remove software with this.

The software centre uses this - it's a graphical interface for dpkg.

Root and sudo

Root is the equivalent of Administrator in Windows. It has the power to do anything - like erase the hard drive, change config files and adjust the time.

In Ubuntu, there is no "root" user. Instead, sudo is used. Any command with "sudo" before it (for example sudo nano) will be executed as root.

Users in the "sudoers" list can execute sudo commands.

The root home directory is simply /root - it is not found in /home/root.

Any images not attributed are created by a contributor to this post.

  • Please edit this CW post to add new info that hasn't been covered. Try to keep it in sensible categories. – Tim Oct 29 '15 at 13:05

Much of the jargon that you hear related to Ubuntu may as well be shared with other Linux distros, such as launcher, shell, terminal, release - all these can be found in other distros as well.

What I would suggest you do is pick up a book related to Ubuntu, such as Ubuntu Unleashed, The Official Ubuntu book, or Ubuntu Linux Toolbox, and read through them; as you read you will pick up all the necessary vocabulary.

Coming back to general distro information, I would suggest learning what makes Ubuntu different from other distros - such as package-managers ( Ubuntu uses apt and dpkg, while Fedora and RHEL used to have rpm and yum , Arch uses pacman), default init system ( prior to 15.04 release Ubuntu used upstart, but now is switching to systemd ), desktop environment and desktop manager ( one is the actual desktop, such as Unity for Ubuntu, but the other is login screen such as lightdm), client vs server.

A big portion of using any Linux system is terminal , which is similar to Windows' command line ( cmd.exe ), but much more powerful and flexible. Use UNIX Shells by Example by Ellie Quigley - this book helped me a great deal in learning command line. You will pick up vocabulary such as variables, shell , terminal emulator, regex , and will learn about many useful tools such as find, xargs , for and while loops, awk, sed,.

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