I uninstalled the portable package of Arduino IDE, completely, and installed the IDE using
sudo apt install arduino. yes, I verified that my Nano was plugged in, the status on the bottom right says
Arduino Nano w/ ATmega328 on COM1, but sadly the IDE won't explain to me why the
Tools > Serial Port section is still unavailable.
Also, the online version doesn't recognize the board even though it's plugged in and configured in the settings to look for a "Nano". I also used a reliable USB Hub I use for my drawing tablet, because that was one of the remedies to troubleshoot the lack of connection, and because the Hub seems to do a lot of good things around here.
end of update
I received an Arduino Nano as a gift a couple months ago and had to place it on a shelf as a mere dust collector, because it was not as easy as I thought it would be to get it working. I plugged the Nano into my computer with a cable, and attempted to load an example "blink" program and it gives errors saying "no device connected" in the errors.
It does light up and flash, so I know it is receiving power, so how do I specify where the Nano is? I am familiar with the /dev category and how to use code in Linux, but I don't know how to communicate with the Arduino, as in, know which block device the Nano is in /dev
now that Thomas has brought to my attention the "port" setting in the drop down menus, I just realized that the port is greyed out. that could be a good detail in troubleshooting this issue.