[TriLUG] Software for Linux newbies
26 May 2002 23:53:28 -0400
While I'm sure that many newbies would appreciate such a guide, I would
like to make a point which you can take or leave. My point is basicall
this: The majority of us got into Linux because we wanted an
alternative. We wanted to do something besides Windows, and also find
alternatives to the Windows based software which was costing us
thousands that we simply didn't have. However, upon installing Linux,
we found dozens of alternatives in all shapes and sizes for each task
that we wanted. Browsers: Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, Konqueror. Mail:
Pine, Mutt, Kmail, Evolution, Balsa. News readers: Pan, tin,
Netscape. Office software: Star Office, AbiWord, Gnumeric, Applixware.
Microsoft didn't win their current status simply by making deals with
the computer manufacturers to put their OS on everybody's machine. They
also did it by making the prettiest (at the time) OS, and by telling
everyone that this is what you should be using. Personally, I'd like to
avoid that scenario in this world. I don't use either KDE or Gnome by
choice. Personally, I don't care for either of them. I'm addicted to
my Afterstep desktop, which I'm sure makes me somewhat of a dinosaur,
but it's what I like. I've tried the others, and I didn't like them.
But that may have as much to do with the fact that Afterstep is what RH
5.2 installed by default on the first Linux box I installed as it does
with anything else.
Making an excrutiatingly long point somewhat less long, I'll just say
that telling folks what they can use is infinitely preferable to telling
folks what they should use. Recommending KDE, Kmail, Pan, Star Office,
xmms, etc is fine. Tell the newbies why you think that they should use
those. But don't sell them short. Also tell folks about some of their
alternatives, and recommend that they explore those. Let them know that
the Linux community has thousands of options, and that they are free to
explore each and every one of them, almost entirely for free.
I'll make it even clearer: Telling a newbie to use Emacs when vi is
clearly a better editor FOR THEIR PERSONAL TASTE, or vice versa, does
that newbie a severe disservice.
Now I'm going to wrap myself in the American flag and hum "God Bless
America" until you all stop applauding.
On Sun, 2002-05-26 at 17:25, Robert Floyd wrote:
> 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.
> Standard software:
> 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,
> Robert Floyd
> Durham, NC
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