Using LinuxCongratulations! You are now a Linux user. Ok, you ask, now what? Well Carry on as you would if you had Windows installed. Feel free to start customizing your desktop and moving things around to make it more attractive and useful. Just right click on the desktop and select Configure Desktop. Add your own wallpapers and select an amusing screensaver. In a few minutes you will be able to create a working environment on your computer every bit as useful and as attractive as you could with Windows. Now you can get down to work (or play) in a familiar and comfortable environment.
When a lot of uninitiated people think Linux, they think foreign, strange, different, undecipherable, hard to learn and only geeks can figure it out. But look at the screenshot below.
My customized KDE desktop with one of my vacation photos as wallpaper.
Bet you had to look closely to see that it isn't Windows. But it doesn't just look like Windows, it works a lot like Windows too. Anyone proficient using Windows ought to be able to get up to speed in Linux fairly quickly.
These days Linux isn't really any harder to use than Windows. In some ways it's even easier. One way it's easier is because most modern Linux distros come with tons of applications already built in and ready to go. What do you get with an expensive freshly installed Window$ installation? A third rate text editor, a truly lousy web browser, loads of utterly useless programs running in the background sucking up resources and slowing the computer to a crawl, balloons popping up every few minutes to tell me my computer may not be protected or that there are unused icons on my desktop. Oh, yeah, also all the virus, Trojan, adware and spyware attacks you could ever want. And that's about it. A computer with nothing but Window$ installed is slightly less useful than a rock. To make it useful, you first need to turn off everything that came turned on by default, then spend big bucks on applications like Office, Photoshop, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, etc. Only then will the computer be (somewhat) useful. Which is good, because you are now broke and you need to use that computer productively to earn back the money you just spent on software.
Now don't get me wrong. Sure, Linux is easy to use and has more goodies built in than Windows, but there is a bit of a learning curve. While a Windows user will be familiar with the user interface, he or she will take a little while to find their way around and figure out which program does what. Then it will take a while to get as proficient at using those programs as they were using the Windows equivalents. Don't panic. It won't be as bad as the first time you sat down in front of a computer and had absolutely no idea what to do. Every Windows user already knows 85-90 percent of what they need to know to be proficient in Linux. Just a few details need to be learned.
Think of it as cooking in someone else's kitchen. You already know how to cook. In fact you're real good at it. So you shouldn't fear working in an unfamiliar kitchen. It has everything your own kitchen has, it's just set up differently. There's a range, an oven a microwave, a fridge, pots & pans, utensils, plates, cups, spices, etc. Everything you need is there. The knobs and buttons on the appliances are different, but you'll figure them out easily enough with a little trial and error. You may need to hunt around a while to figure out which drawers and cupboards have the utensils you need, but you'll find them eventually. Finding a particular knife or spice may really make you hunt frantically for a while until you finally find them, but you will in the end. You'll have food on the table in no time. Cook a couple of meals in that kitchen and it won't be unfamiliar anymore. It's the same with switching from Windows to Linux. I'll give you a few pointers to help you get up to speed.
Click on the Knoppix Linux equivalent of the start button down on the lower left side of the screen. Up will pop the start menu.
Now, suppose you need to edit a text file. Where do you suppose you'd find a text editor? Under the Editors category? By golly you are right!. Select the Editors tab and behold the embarrassment of riches that is Linux. So many choices. From complex programming editors like Vim and Emacs that take a while to learn but can do everything except your laundry, down to simple, no frills, notepad-like editors that you already intuitively know how to use. It's all here. This is typical of Linux by the way. Finding a program to do a given job isn't a problem. It's choosing from the dozen or so choices you have that is the hard part. Try a couple of the editors. You'll find one you like and can use easily.
Now suppose you want to surf the web to find out a little more about all those text editor choices. No problem. Click on the Internet Category. Try not to be overwhelmed. There's a lot there. Your web browser choices are Epiphany, Firefox, Konqueror, Lynx, Mozilla and a couple of others. I highly recommend Firefox. Internet Explorer users pick it up quickly. Also under the Internet tab you will find email, instant messenger and file sharing programs.
Want to watch a DVD? Click on the Multimedia tab. Here you will find Xine and Totem which can play your DVDs and other video files. Also, XMMS is a great player for MP3s and other audio files.
Ok, now it's time to get down to work. You are probably used to using the Microsoft Office suite of programs at work. You know, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook. Those programs cubical drones use all day every day. If you had to pay for it, you know how expensive it is. If you don't know, ask your boss (be prepared for cursing). The good news is that your new Linux installation already comes with about the equivalent of three or four Office installations. Once again, it's the typical Linux embarrassment of riches. Click on the Office tab. There's a lot of stuff there. Several different programs that can do the job of Word. Several that can do the job of Excel. One or two that can fill in for Powerpoint. A couple that can substitute for Outlook. All great programs. However, it's nice to have a consistent user interface and interoperability like you are used to with M$ Office. So click on the Open Office group within the Office tab. A new menu will pop up with even more choices. All these programs are part of the integrated Open Office suit. Here you will find pretty much all the functionality of Office, plus some extra things you don't get with Office, all integrated into one Office-like suite of programs. I use it exclusively these days. (It's even available for free to run on Windows. Don't tell Bill.) Play around with it a bit. A proficient Word user will figure out Open Office Write very quickly. The same goes for Excel users and OO Calc, etc. And as an added bonus, Open Office applications can import and export files in M$ Office format. So you can still exchange files with all the poor cubical drones stuck using Office.
Need to deal with graphics? Click on the Graphics tab. Once again you are faced with a lot of choices. Many of these programs are quite useful for interfacing with your digital camera, grabbing screen shots, using your scanner, viewing PDF files, and lots of other things. However, the most useful program there is the GIMP. The GIMP is an image editing program every bit as powerful and useful as Photoshop. The GIMP user interface is a little strange (legendarily strange in fact) but once you get used to it, it will become second nature, and you'll be as productive with it as with Photoshop.
If you need to do some programming, click on the Development tab for all sorts of programming tools.
After all that work, you probably need a little down time. Click on the Games tab. There are several dozen games here. Some of them are quite addictive so be warned.
I hope this has given you a bit of a head start on finding your way around your new Linux installation. You will still have a bit of a learning curve before you get fully up to speed. A friend of mine has a saying: "Google knows everything." And of course he's right. If you have a question or a problem you can't find the answer to in the help files, just Google for it. You'll find the answer. That's how I learned to use Linux. If I could, you can too.