[TriLUG] Software for Linux newbies
26 May 2002 17:25:48 -0400
As my small contribution to the Linux for Newbies thread, and speaking
as a relative newbie to Linux (though not to computing, having cut my
teeth on MVS/TSO), I'd like to offer some suggestions for a standard
software pack for those making the transition from MS to Linux. These
recommendations are based on my own experience, and are designed to help
folks move from the Windows mindset to a Linux perspective. Please
consider this a start toward a standard package (possibly distributed as
rpms on a CD):
First, newbies should definitely start with a prepackaged distribution.
It makes life much easier, especially if it's Mandrake or Red Hat
(though Red Hat is probably not the first choice for desktop newbies.
Personally, I run SuSe, which I would have recommended until 8.0, which
I'm running now and which is, IMHO, not ready for prime time.
Desktop: KDE, because it seems to be more stable than Gnome and because
it comes the closest to approximating the Windows look and feel, while
allowing people to migrate toward a more rational desktop.
Email: If folks are not into heavy address book interaction, KMail is
fine, especially for its mailing list management. However, for those
migrating from an Outlook environment or who have a Palm OS PDA, I have
to recommend Evolution. Its integration may not appeal to everyone, but
it's exactly what I like about it. I have approximately 500 names in my
address book on my Palm, and found Evolution to handle the import much
better than the KDE 3.0 suite. That, of course, is subject to change,
and I hope to move back to the lighter KDE apps by 3.1.
News: Pan is, IMHO, the best news reader available today for any OS. I
do a lot of binary downloads (old radio shows); nothing I've seen comes
close to Pan's performance.
Browser/file manager: Konqueror...I know, Mozilla is the closest to a MS
platform browser, but I'm in love with Konqueror. In my mind, it's the
application that will sell a Linux desktop to a newbie. It's light and
nimble, and, in its superb integration of Web browser, file manager, FTP
client and viewer, is what the MSofties can only dream about when
they've imbibed one too many magic mushrooms.
Office suite: Star Office/Open Office, if only for the interoperability
with the MS world. Once the KDE/Gnome apps achieve better file
compatibility and features (come on, Abiword, a word processor without
tables?), I'll revisit this. Until then, I need to exchange documents
with the office, so I'll stick with OpenOffice (and will buy Star Offce
as soon as it hits the local stores).
MP3 player: xmms, which looks a lot like Winamp and performs superbly.
MP3 ripper: grip/blade; I'd recommend LAME if I could get it to compile
on my SuSe 8.0/KDE 3.0 notebook, but that has been an exercise in
futility so far. Blade encoding at 192kb lets me make copies of my
(mostly classical) CD collection with a quality I can hear with my Grado
DVD player: Xine; the rpms work out of the box, along with the ability
to watch all my DVDs.
Other apps: Right now, the other major app I use is Gutenbrowser. It's
great to have my daughter's summer reading on my notebook so I can read
along with her. This is, I think, an underestimated application for
people. It allows them to turn their computer into a library of classics
that can be read fairly easily, without paying fees to anyone for
downloading public domain literature. It makes my notebook the ebook
reader I want.
In compiling my list, I've noticed a bit of a paradox: my desktop is
KDE, yet most of my applications are Gnome-based. For me, that's the
strength of Linux: the ability to mix and match, to pick the best of
breed without regard for the underlying code.
I'm sure I've missed out on a number of essential applications. These
are the ones I use every day.
Comments, slings and arrows welcome,