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So, you've heard a lot about this Linux thing, and decided to check it out. If you're new to Linux, or just new to computing in general, it might be a bit confusing at first. Don't worry about it. It's actually pretty simple. Get relaxed and read on, and we'll explain what all the fuss is about.
StarOffice (SO) and OpenOffice.org (OOo) are the leading rivals of Microsoft Office. Despite the difference in names, the two are mostly variations on the same program. Both are developed largely by engineers at Sun Microsystems, but OOo is free software, and SO is proprietary. Functionally,however, the two programs are nearly identical. Each shares the same general characteristics and has features that compare favorably with MS Office's, and which you use depends largely on your philosophy rather than any difference in functionality.
A Linux distribution is a popular environment for developing applications for the web. Whether you are designing a personal Web page or a multi-page, database-driven, AJAX-enabled Web site, Linux has tools to make the task easier.
You've heard about all the benefits of using Linux: it's fast, stable, secure, and it really is easy to use. If you're ready to give Linux a try on your own computer, you have several options. Some require less commitment than others.
You'll hear a lot about the command line in Linux, but the truth is, you rarely (if ever) need to see a command line. Just like Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, you can do all of your computing using an attractive graphical user interface (GUI) with very little reason to use the command line interface (CLI) unless you want to.
Your home network might have a few Windows machines on the ground floor, a Mac in an upstairs bedroom, a PocketPC on a nightstand, and a Linux box or two in the basement, all networked with a generic router. For all the devices in this familiar family setup, or even a scenario with thousands of users, the Samba suite is an ideal solution for file and print sharing.
People can interact with computers running Linux in two ways -- using the graphical user interface (GUI) or the command line interface (CLI). If you're familiar with the GUI, you may find the CLI intimidating at first sight. Instead of pretty buttons, you get the computer equivalent of a blank, empty sheet: the whole screen, or at least a whole window, with nothing but the borders and the actual command line. But by learning a few fundamentals, you can use the command line to accomplish miracles.
Linux (pronounced LIH-nuks) is an operating system for computers, comparable to Windows or Mac OS X. It was originally created starting in 1991 by Finnish programmer Linus (pronounced LEE-nus) Torvalds with the assistance of developers from around the globe. Linux resembles Unix, an earlier operating system, but unlike Unix, Linux is both Free Software and open source software -- that is, you can not only download and run it on your computer, but also download all the source code the programmers created to build the operating system. You can then modify or extend the code to meet your needs.
Playing computer games can be relaxing and fun, especially after a hard day at work. And this doesn't mean shutting down your Linux system and booting straight into Microsoft Windows. You can play plenty of games in the Linux environment.
If you're a Windows user who just wants to see what Linux looks like to decide whether it's for you, the easiest thing to do is run it from a live CD -- a version of Linux that boots directly from a CD without ever changing any bits on your hard drive.
There are many open source music players for Linux, complete with support for MP3 and other audio files, streaming audio like Internet radio, and playing, ripping, and burning CDs.
Linux offers an abundance of email client options. Most new users simply go with the default client of the distribution they are using. GNOME-based distributions typically use Evolution, while KDE uses KMail. But many alternative clients are available.
If you rely on personal information managers (PIM) to keep you organized, then you'll find no shortage of open source options to choose from. They come in all shapes and sizes, from full-fledged applications that organize every facet of your life, down to small applications that help get you to the dentist on time.