The mere act of searching for and downloading an application through the Synaptic Package Manager program will have the added benefit of showing where to get access to hundreds and hundreds of free programs to customize and enhance your system. Instant messaging capability is included in the Pidgin Internet Messenger, which is compatible with virtually all the existing messenger programs, including MSN Messenger, ICQ, etc., and has the added benefit that it can communicate with all of them simultaneously. Internet telephoning is also discussed, including instructions on how to install Skype.
The book discusses the Advanced Package Tool (APT), the engine for downloading applications, updates and for removal of programs. The Synaptic Package Manager is one of a few of the graphical front ends for the APT's command line interface. Update Manager is also covered as it updates the overall operating system and should be run before downloading any applications.
The author covers The Linux Command Terminal with commands that illustrate why it is not to be feared and how it can be useful and even fun. Yes, you can run some Windows applications by using a program called WINE, which stands for “WINE is Not an Emulator,” including Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Ubuntu is based on the Debian distribution of Linux and uses DEB packages to install programs and updates. Some Linux packages exist only as RPMs, packages for Red Hat, Fedora and some other Linux distributions. The author shows you how to utilize a program called Alien to convert RPM packages to DEB packages so that they can work on Ubuntu.
Linux operating systems are packaged with what could be considered thousands of dollars worth of productivity software, from OpenOffice.org to photo editors to financial management software. Several of the popular applications are discussed.
Multi-media has become a big part of what we use computers for, and this topic is covered, as well. Due to licensing issues, MP3 playback and creation software is not included in Linux, but the author shows you to download free software for those purposes, as well as how to connect to your iPod. Digital cameras, DVD playback, connecting peripherals like scanners and printers, are also covered.
Finally, one of the most important topics for any computer user is discussed. Many people have switched from Windows to Linux due to the multitudes of security flaws which appear in Windows computers. While every operating system has its security flaws, there are fewer of them for Linux systems simply due to the fact that there are far fewer users of Linux than Windows. Also, most Windows users are running in a privileged mode with grants rights to malware to cause problems that restricted user accounts don't have rights to perform. Most Linux systems are run in a restricted mode.