Feature Article
Linux on the Net 

By Rose Lynn Saenger; reprinted from the July, 2000 issue of the PC Alamode 

Linux appeals to me because of all the hype about its stability. However in all my reading about Linux, I have shied away from installing it on my computer because of the apparent limited amount of software. After reading an article on Linux in the May issue of PC World, I decided to follow up on the web and see what I could find. The first site that I visited was <www.freshmeat.com>. I had accessed the home page and was settled down to investigate the entire site when it suddenly went off the web with a flash and that frightful white page that says "this site cannot be displayed" appeared. I tried again the next day and found all kinds of information. At the opening page there were links and announcements about a newsletter, how to get free shirts, chat, and links to information appearing the current day and previous days. Freshmeat lists all new Linux apps that are out for the day. From the home page there are links to sites titled news, appindex, feedback, contribute, editorials, FAQ, and others. You do need to register in order to access most of the sites, however registration is free.

The next site that I chose to check out was <www.gphoto.org>. This web site opens with a beautifully simple, clean home page with links to news, information, developer and download. The link to developer provides additional links to libraries, developer news, documentation and how to get involved. GPhoto is a digital camera software application for free UNIX-like systems such as Debian GNU/Linux and Red Hat Linux. The software has been written by Scott Fritzinger and is freely available. Gphoto ships with 19 different camera libraries and supports 114 different digital still camera models that are listed on the site. Clicking on the link to information took me to a page that provides approximately 3-4 paragraphs about digital cameras. I was very impressed with the thoughts that were posted regarding the purchase of digital cameras. It would be beneficial to anyone who is contemplating his/her first digital camera purchase.

Traveling on through the Internet in search of Linux applications, I stopped at <www.gimp.org>. Now, you ask, what is The Gimp? The Gimp is an Image Manipulation Program. The software is free for the downloading and you are enabled to do photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. The Gimp is a program for UNIX and X written by Peter Mattis and Spencer Kimball. Interestingly, you can download the latest stable version of The Gimp or the current development version. Core tools in this photo editing software include a clone tool, a pencil tool and most of the same photo editing tools that are found in the more expensive photo-editing tools that used by professionals with the Windows OS. There also is a manual, a tutorial, and something called ‘Grokking the Gimp’ — guides to making you understand not only how to do something, but also why and when. There is a lot more to the Gimp including FAQ’s, mailing lists, and other documents. A lot of time can be spent exploring this site.
My next jump took me to <www.linuxapps.com>. This site is boggling. It has links to 34 different aspects of Linux including database, image processing, libraries, office, security and 29 additional topics. 

Well, computing is not all graphics and fun things (though it should all be fun), so on to some working software. Corel’s Word-Perfect Office suite is available for Linux. Another office suite is available that is free for the downloading. This is StarOffice from Sun. StarOffice is a powerful cross-platform productivity suite that is compatible with Microsoft Office and runs on Linux as well as Sun Solaris, Win95/98/NT and OS-2.

Another site that I visited was <www.linuxnewbie.org>, which is designed as a help site for the user who is new to Linux. Again this was a site that has a lot to explore.

There is an amazing amount of help and information for Linux on the Internet and the site at <www.linuxcare.com> deserves a visit by the Linux user and non-user alike. This site has done delightful things with the Linux penguin. On the home page Mr. Penguin is idly playing with a yo-yo. The link that I took to software had Mr. Penguin eating a whole pie and then the visual reaction to having "eaten the whole thing". This site like many of the other Linux sites has a lot of links to explore. The software directory with user ratings has 34 different links. There is also a link to product comparisons. One of the best features of this site is the large print. Ah, how nice to tired eyes — clearly a site that one can explore at a late night hour after a full day of work.

After exploring all of these sites, I decided to try a search on Linux. Infoseek, the search engine that I used turned up 373,158 hits. Fortunately, the search engine also listed the Linux sites into categories. The categories are: 

  • Linux Usergroups
  • Linux support
  • Linux software
  • Linux security
  • Linux magazines
  • Linux news
  • Linux development
  • Linux operating system
  • Linux projects
  • Linux mailing lists.

Not only is Linux an operating system with wide appeal, but there is an unbelievable amount of help out there for the new user and the experienced user.

Rose Lynn Saenger