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Introduction to Linux, Part 2
For those who read Part 1 of Introduction of Linux, I covered the basics on preparation and installation of Fedora Core 5. This month, I'll review some of the basic Fedora Linux programs and their functions. If you have already taken a few moments to explore Fedora, you may have noticed some of the similarities between Linux GUI and other popular operating systems. The built-in applications have comparable features to some of the other word processing, photo editing, music and spreadsheet programs. Before I begin diving into software, let's take a quick tour of the Fedora desktop.
Fedora Core 5 uses a desktop environment called GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment). This describes the layout of the interface for accessing applications, preferences and drives. If you take a look at the desktop, you will notice that the main menu access is located at the top of the screen. By default, the main menu bar is at the top and the task bar is located at the bottom.You can move these bars if you prefer. The first menu, Applications, gives you a category list of programs by function. You will notice that Fedora already comes loaded with many applications from games to an Internet browser. The next menu item is Places that accesses the hard drive, home directory, networking and search. The System menu shows preferences, help and shut down options. The small icons to the right are quick start program icons for Internet, email, word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation. You can customize these icons by adjusting the order or dragging icons on or off. The items to the top far right are the power source, clock and volume control. Looking at the bottom of the screen there is a task bar that works similarly to Windows. When a program is activated, you can collapse or expand the application, or you can use the clear desktop button at the far left to clean all windows off your desktop in one click. On the right side of the task bar are four boxes and the Trash Can icon. The boxes represent virtual desktops within GNOME. This gives you the option of several views of the desktop at once. To use the multiple desktop feature, click on one of the gray (empty) boxes and open your applications/menus. Then, to switch back to your first desktop, just click on the first icon.
Before reviewing some of the Fedora applications, there are a couple of other icons to look at. The desktop shows three icons, Computer, Trash, and a home directory folder with your user name. The Computer icon takes you to the optical drive, file system and network. You can also get to these options through the Places menu. The Trash is for disposing your unwanted files and the home directory is where you keep your documents (similar to My Documents in Windows).
Now that you are familiar with the desktop, let's dive into some applications. Some of the practical software you may need are the office and graphics programs. For the office programs, Fedora features a collection of software called OpenOffice.org or OOo. This includes a Calendar, Presentation, Project Management, Spreadsheet, Tasks, and Word Processor software. Like their names infer, these programs are comparable to Microsoft Office.
The Word Processor app is easy to maneuver around and opens MS Word documents- no need for a translator.
The Spreadsheet program can organize data, build charts and create formulas, plus it imports MS Excel files. Swapping files between Fedora and Windows is a breeze with OOo.
For graphic applications, Fedora has a photo editor called The Gimp. The menus and palette are homologous to Photoshop with basic photo correction tools, and as a bonus, when you boot the application, GIMP gives you a helpful "Tip of the Day." The program accepts standard file formats from other photo applications.
For Internet use, Fedora has its own version of Firefox for web surfing. If you are already familiar with this browser, you won't have any problems getting acquainted with this program. Firefox offers the same menu items, bookmark features, and tools as its Windows cousin.
Fedora has a medley of other applications for work and entertainment. Under the Accessories menu, there is a calculator, dictionary, terminal and text editor. The Games menu includes the standard poker and solitaire plus some different apps like Mines and Robots. For music, there is the Rhythmbox to manage your songs and plays Internet radio and podcasts. To compliment the Rhythmbox is Sound Juicer that extracts songs from your audio CDs. To play movies, Fedora has Totem Movie Player with a full screen feature. A few other applications not mentioned yet are Internet Messenger, Email and Contact programs under the Internet menu in addition to VoIP and Video Conferencing capabilities.
If you are looking for comprehensive lessons on Fedora, try Sams Teach Yourself Red Hat Linux Fedora in 24 Hours or Red Hat Linux Fedora All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies. Both of these books give you quick tutorials on various aspects of the operating system. To get additional information on the Fedora project, go to http://fedoraproject.org.
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