B.1. Linux Desktop Applications for All Occasions
Any attempt to use Linux as a desktop OS ultimately requires Linux desktop applications that are acceptable for your intended purpose. Although tools to run Windows applications are available in Linux (as described later in the Section B.3), these solutions are imperfect. If all you do is run Windows programs, you might as well use Windows as your OS.
Fortunately, an array of desktop applications are available for Linux, as summarized in Table B-1. Of course, not all these components are exactly equivalent. For instance, some of the Linux applications, such as mutt and cdrecord, are command-line tools, whereas the Windows applications are overwhelmingly GUI in nature. Exact features also differ, of course, and, in some cases, the basic purpose of tools aren't equivalent. For instance, mkisofs and cdrecord work together to create a CD-R, while X-CD-Roast and Eroaster provide GUI frontends to these tools. In Windows, CD-R creation tools are usually all-in-one packages that do everything. To learn more about any of these programs, perform a web search or check your Linux installation medium to see if the program comes with your distribution.
If you don't see an application category that you need in Table B-1, don't panic! This table is intended to provide only a few quick pointers for some of the most common desktop tools. Try performing a web search on the category name and Linux. You might also check your distribution, particularly if it provides a GUI installation tool with categorized sets of software. Many Linux sites, such as http://www.linux.org, http://www.sourceforge.net, and http://www.freshmeat.net, also provide pointers to Linux software by category.
One critically important Linux desktop software component doesn't appear in Table B-1: the desktop environment. This is a collection of toolsmost are fairly small by themselvesthat together create the familiar set of desktop icons, program-launch tools, and so on that users see when they log in to the computer. Windows provides only one common desktop environment, which is bundled into the OS. In Linux, you have a choice between GNOME, KDE, XFce, XPde, and others. This choice is covered in more detail in Section B.2.3.