Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Must Have Applications for Linux Beginners

Switching to Linux is a huge step for those who still have some reservations about taking such a huge leap of faith. To make the transition as painless as possible, often times it simply helps to make sure that the person switching to Linux has a clear comparison of which applications they will be using on their new distribution.

Choosing the Right Software. When selecting an application list, we figured that it might be helpful to seriously look at which applications the average home user might be using the most. With this in mind, here’s our breakdown in no particular order:

Firefox: A web browser that will make sure the user is not feeling totally overwhelmed and out of their element. We would avoid loading it down with tons of extensions, however, just keep it lean and clean.

Thunderbird: Considering the likelihood that said user has been using their ISP assigned e-mail with a program, such as Outlook Express, this should not feel like a tremendous leap. Thunderbird is a rock solid, trustworthy program that can help wean those reluctant relatives over to the Linux side of the fence in no time.

MSN/AIM/Yahoo Messenger(s): Let's face it, the kids love to "IM" each other with every free moment. Our prescription would not be to go with GAIM in most cases though. For those who don't always favor such a drastic change, keeping things simple might be the best bet here. Since all three instant messaging programs have options that can be installed in a Linux flavor, this allows you to offer the user a choice - GAIM for all or aMSN, Yahoo Linux and AIM Linux?

Scanner Software Made Easier: For the most part, we tend to jump onto the SANE bandwagon in hopes that our lack of driver resources will not prove to be too huge of a problem. However, if you have run into the trouble that we have with SANE back-ends, then maybe an alternative is in order: something like VueScan perhaps? This scanning program is both commercial and effective if you are having some struggles with SANE.

Beagle: Until your new convert becomes a little more accustomed to the file system that Linux provides, enabling them to locate their downloads and other goodies without too much frustration may be in order. Beagle allows for this and does it with amazing style. Much like "Google Desktop," Beagle can locate just about any file you might be looking for with the tap of a few keys.

amaroK: By this time, it may be worth it to your new Linux convert to enjoy their favorite tunes. amaroK is a fantastic music manager that is sure to amaze, thanks to its close work with MusicBrainz. It should be said that getting it to just "work" with your iPod, as so many before me have claimed, is not all that easy. Gtkpod is always a wise bet though if fighting with the urge to make an iPod sync a simple reality. In reality, most people ought to be using this as their primary office suite regardless of the OS they choose to run. However, even if the new user you happen to be working with is still a Microsoft Office user, is easy enough to make just about anyone comfortable rather quickly.

Did I Miss Something? Are you finding yourself coming unglued at the prospect of us missing an important application? Not to worry, this is just a starter list and not to be taken as the "only way" to go. See, what is so great about introducing folks to Linux is the ability to set them up with the applications that will best meet with "their" needs; not just the needs that we feel they might have.

What are you waiting for? Grab a LiveCD of your favorite distribution and start pounding the pavement. We mean, nothing says "party" like a Linux installation party, right? Just remember, Linux installation parties are only as geeky as the people that host them. So get out there, install your perfect setup on a friend's PCs and have fun!

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