April 30, 2007
If you haven't tried Ubuntu, the new Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn offers the PC user a chance to try out this open source software with little fear. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes from ZDNet states that "Ubuntu 7.04 is by far the best and easiest version of Linux that I've used" and "a simple (and safe) way for PC owners to experiment with Linux." In addition, Ubuntu lightens the user experience with a desktop edition for those who don't want to alter their computers with a server install. With that said, Kingsly-Hughes admits that some "dark corners" still exist for Ubuntu users that only a true geek and open source advocate would understand.
With that thought in mind, we hope to pave some of the new Ubuntu user's rocky road with 17 apps that will make that Ubuntu transition smoother. Since Ubuntu comes packaged with all the open source apps that an average user might need (Firefox 2.0, Open Office, Rhythmbox, etc.), it might seem crazy to add more "clutter" to the situation. But what happens if you'd rather use the Opera browser rather than Firefox? Or, perhaps you'd like to add more sound and video apps to your repertoire beyond Rhythmbox. Since the server and desktop versions of Ubuntu support the GNOME 2.18 desktop environment, literally hundreds of additional applications are appropriate for Ubuntu users. But the following free software apps, listed in alphabetical order, provide the new Ubuntu desktop user with a logical beginning to an enhanced open source experience.
Some apps, like gaim (to be renamed Pidgin in its new release), provide a minimizing feature. If you're logged into gaim, you can click the "close" button and the app will disappear from the windows list and the icon will appear in the system tray. You then click the icon and the gaim window reappears. This feature provides users with a simplified workspace. Now you can dock any application without a native tray icon (like Ubuntu's email app, Evolution) in the AllTray system tray. The tool lacks a "drag and drop" feature, so you need to capture an open application to dock it in the tray. In addition to GNOME, AllTray also works with KDE, recent versions of XFCE, and window managers such as Fluxbox and WindowMaker.
amaroK is a music player that was built specifically for the Unix/Linux user, so its function and eye-candy interface makes this a must-have app for the music lover. A drag-and-drop playlist creation, 10-band equalizer, and automatic cover art download via Amazon all make Amarok a perfect application for album freaks as well as single-play aficionados. Ubuntu Feisty includes a new guided wizard for automatically installing multimedia codecs not shipped with Ubuntu, so you're in good shape here.
More notes for the new Ubuntu User: Ubuntu Feisty comes with a Windows migration tool that recognizes Internet Explorer bookmarks, Firefox favorites, desktop wallpaper, AOL and Yahoo! IM contacts and imports them all during Ubuntu installation. Utilize that tool when you decide to migrate. In addition, new users might remember to try to apt-get a program through Ubuntu's interface or check repositories before installing from a source. This practice helps to keep your system cleaner and everything more interconnected, making it easier to maintain and update any Ubuntu apps.
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