The Joomla! front page is a component that generates intro text of selected Joomla content items (articles) in a desired layout.
The "Front Page" parameter can be selected via a radio button at the top when editing an article on the administrator side.
When the home or default menu item is the Articles -> Frontpage layout, all articles which have "Front Page" set to "Yes" in their parameters will be arranged according to the settings in that menu item.
In order to access the Front Page layout parameters, you should select first the default menu item (that is, the starred item in the starred menu; in the default template it should be the Main Menu -> Home). The layout parameters that can be chosen within that menu item are: leading, intro, columns, and links. Leading is the number of full width (one article across the page) intros to show first. Intro is the number of intro-text of articles to show below the leading articles. Intros will be arranged in the number of columns as defined in the next Column parameter. For example, if the number of columns is 2, there will be two intros next to each other, each taking up 50% of the width of the page. Links, finally, is the number of article titles to show that did not show up as intros on the page. If there are 8 total articles set to Front Page, and 3 intros chosen to show up, then the number of possible links would be 5. That number could be set lower using the "Links" parameter.
The articles appear according to the ordering set in the Advanced portion of the menu item.
Items selected for the front page can also be managed via the control panel at Content, Front Page Manager.