This chapter covers the very first and last things you must do whenever you use a Linux computer. Starting with turning on the computer and login to proper shutdown and power off, you will also learn a little about your login account as well as user accounts in general.
Note: The actual icons, window decorations and windows you see on your computer may look a little different than those in this book. The actual look will depend upon the version of Linux you are using and the theme that is in use on your desktop. Most themes should be similar enough that the icons and other desktop features will be easily recognizable.
This chapter is less about doing productive work than it is about basic tasks required just to access the computer and the programs that are the tools you need to perform the productive tasks you need to do. It is extremely important to become familiar with the tasks and concepts covered here. If you do not shut the computer down in the proper manner, for example, there is a possibility that you could damage some of the files you are working on, which is never a good thing. Damaged files cannot be recovered and your work will be lost.
If you follow the procedures in this chapter when starting or ending a working session with your Linux computer, you should have a significantly lower likelihood of inadvertently damaging important files. That is not to say that a building power failure1 might not occur, and that can damage files just like powering off your computer without going through the proper shutdown procedures. Other problems can cause your computer to crash or to cause damage to your files, but using the proper procedures can significantly reduce the risk.
1. I strongly suggest the use of an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to prevent power outages from damaging your computer or the files on it. A UPS is better at providing surge protection than any product that only does surge protection, and it provides your computer power during power failures in order to give you enough time to power down the computer system gracefully using the proper procedures.