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Setup for Ubuntu

This guide will help you setup a software development environment on Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr. By the end, your computer will be configured with the same state-of-the-art tools used by professional software developers.

This guide is mostly compatible with older versions of Ubuntu. So follow along as best you can while Googling any problems you come across.

The Terminal

Included in Ubuntu is the Terminal -- an app that runs a Unix shell.

A Unix shell (often referred to as a "terminal") is a command line user interface between you and your computer's operating system. In a Unix shell, you can type in commands that tell the computer to do many things: navigate to files and folders, install and run programs, and change configurations. Programmers rely on their Unix shells to do lots of work, quickly and easily.

You're probably most familiar with the graphical user interface (the "GUI") of your computer's operating system. Those are the boxes, windows, and menu items that you click on with your mouse. While that's technically a shell too, most programmers think of the textual, command line interface when they hear to word shell.

Explore the Terminal

Let's get our hands dirty and have some fun. First, use the Dash to launch the Terminal app.

Once launched, you'll see something like this.

Here's a quick break down of what you're seeing in the Terminal app.

Component Description
ryansobol Name of your user account
photon Name of your computer
~ (home directory) Name of your working directory
$ Prompt symbol

Any characters you type will appear after the $ prompt symbol. Go ahead and type uname. After pressing the Enter key, you'll see something like this.

Here's what happened:

  1. The shell waited for you to type a command.
  2. You then typed the word uname which appeared after the prompt.
  3. You pressed the Enter key which triggered the shell to accept your input.
  4. The shell searched for a program called uname.
  5. Once found, the shell launched the uname program and handed it control over the Terminal.
  6. While running, the uname program told the Terminal to display the word Linux.
  7. Once finished, the uname program exited and handed control of the Terminal back to the shell.
  8. The shell told the Terminal to display another prompt.
  9. Once displayed, the shell began waiting for your next command.

Simply stated, a Unix shell works like a read-evaluate-print loop or REPL.

Change the Terminal Profile

The default profile for the Terminal looks pretty, but uses small text and has low color contrast. Let's change that.

First, run the following command to update your operating system's software. To run a command, type it into the Terminal and hit "enter". If you want to copy and paste commands into your prompt, you'll need to right-click on main Terminal window, and select "Paste". Or, you can press Control-Shift-V.

sudo apt-get update

TIP: This will require your account password which will not appear on the screen as you type.

Then run this command to install a handy command line program called curl, which we'll use in a second.

sudo apt-get install -y curl

Then download and install the new Terminal Profile.

curl -fsSL | sh

Then navigate to the Terminal's Edit > Profiles menu item.

In the Profiles window, select Tomorrow as the profile used when launching a new terminal.

Finally, quit and relaunch the Terminal. Now, every new Terminal window will look like this.

Next ⇒