21 Jan 07
One of the biggest questions many people who are new to Linux have is what programs to use to do things they are used to doing in other operating systems. Once you know what program to use, it is often easy to find some instructions on how to install that program in your distribution with a quick google search, so I'll get you started with a list of programs to use for many common tasks. You can find larger lists like this all over the web, and the programs I list are far from the only option.
Instant messaging – Gaim is the most popular instant messaging program for Linux, with good reason. It is easy to use and can operate on almost any IM network, including AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Google talk, ICQ, and IRC. Gaim has recently renamed itself "Pidgin." Same great program, new silly name.
Word processing – Open Office is an open source office suite that provides word processing, spread sheet, database, and many other functions most people have come to rely on MS Office for.
Web browsing – Firefox is far and away the most popular Linux web browser. Opera also works well in Linux. Some distributions ship with Konqurer, which gets the job done but is limited in performance and features.
Email – Mozilla Thunderbird works great. It's made by the same people as Firefox.
Music player – Amarok is the most popular music player. It can play most media formats, including mp3, and can tune into streaming media stations. Rythembox is included in some distributions.
CD burning – Gnomebaker.
Image editing – GIMP is an open-source replacement for Photoshop.
HTML editor – Nvu is an open-source web editor. You can also run Dreamweaver through Wine.
One other program that I want to mention is Automatix. Written for Ubuntu, it now works for several Debian based distributions. It is by far the easiest way to install a large list of programs and feature extensions. Automatix is the fastest, easiest way to go from a basic install to a very useable and feature packed computer (although Automatix is not suitable for a production environment.)
If you don't have Debian, your distribution will have its own preferred way to install applications. Check your distribution's web site or forums. Of course, you can almost always install from the source code.
Welcome to the Open Source Community!
If I've left some of your questions unanswered and you aren't sure where else to look, try the Radified forums. There are some techies there that are always willing to help, including me. I am also available by email.
Questions? Comments? Corrections? Additions?
28 Jan 08