Finding Linux support online
This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on April 12, 2002
Linux may be the most economically viable alternative to Windows on the market right now, but using Linux remains by and large more difficult for average computer users than Windows or Mac. For home users thinking about making the move to Linux, it might make sense to look around online for a reality check as to whether you're ready for Linux.
Red Hat publishes one of the, if not the, most popular versions of Linux. Their site is a treasure-trove of Linux information especially in the Support section, where you can peruse the user's manual and getting started guides. If you're still thinking about making the switch from Windows, reading the manuals and install guide can give you a feel for whether you think you're ready to go the Linux route. (However, I've found RedHat to be more intimidating to install than some other versions, notably Corel's.)
When Corel came out with its own version of Linux a couple years back, it was by far the easiest to set up and get going. The installation wizard made installing Corel Linux easier than installing Microsoft Windows, frankly.
Corel has now decided to get out of the OS business, and has sold their Linux division to a startup name of Xandros. As this is being written, Xandros has not yet released its update to Corel Linux (and they're apparently calling the new version Xandros OS why on earth abandon the Linux name recognition? Anyone home in the marketing department?), but they're promising to keep Corel Linux's ease of use and installation.
Corel's own Linux applications always installed seamlessly into Linux, doing all the grunt work for you that many Linux apps don't. Corel remains committed to supporting Linux so it appears the WordPerfect office suite for Linux will continue to be developed and improved.
As to whether Xandros can live up to Corel's track record of providing the easiest version of Linux, that will be seen in the months to come.
Formerly part of DaveCentral (www.davecentral.com), this is one of the largest collections of public domain, freeware and shareware programs and files for Linux. Audio, video, graphics editors, utilities you name it, there's a program here that will do what you're looking for.
The grand-daddy of all Linux sites, Linux.org is the headquarters for the Linux community.
For anyone interested at all in Linux, this is a site too bookmark. Most useful are links to the various distributions of Linux (all Linux is inherently free; some companies, like RedHat and Corel, charge for Linux by adding on other features printed manuals, applications, etc.), so you can compare their features before buying.
There are also lists (hotlinked, of course) of various Linux applications not as extensive as at Linux.com, but fairly in-depth.
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