Quick Hints

This page contains quick overviews of the most common things a person might want to do with their desktop environment under Linux.

Browsing the web

There are a number of different browsers available for Linux, the most popular probably being Mozilla Firefox . If you are coming from a Windows background, you will have probably used this browser already or at least heard of it. You might also want to check out Opera , Konqueror , Mozilla and Netscape . Don't forget to install plugins such as Acrobat PDF reader , Flash , Java , Realplayer and Mplayer-plugin.

Reading and writing email

Again, there are many ways to manage your email in Linux. I suggest Mozilla Thunderbird , Evolution or Kmail.

Chat and instant messenging

Common IRC chat programs include Xchat and KVirc. A great instant messenger which can handle most IM protocols is Gaim. Also check out Licq and Kopete. For voice chat, try Skype.

Viewing pictures

A good small program for viewing picture galleries is GQview. A bigger and more fully featured program is GThumb.

Editing or capturing pictures

For professional picture editing, you will want to use Gimp or Cinepaint. An excellent basic photo manipulation program with all the common functions (crop, red-eye, etc...) is Showfoto and associated plugins.
For getting pictures off your USB camera, use GtKam or DigiKam. Alternatively, mount your camera and copy them over manually using a file management program.

Listening to music

A great little program in the spirit of Winamp is XMMS. You may also want to check out Zinf.

Editing or capturing music

A popular program for recording and editing audio is Audacity.

Watching video

For watching almost any kind of video/DVD, use Xine or MPlayer. Also check out Ogle and Totem. Don't forget to install the DivX plugin to watch certain video files and the DeCSS plugin to watch protected commercial DVDs. Remember that for streaming video on your browser, make sure you have Mplayer-plugin installed!

Editing or capturing video

Use a program called Kino to grab and edit video from your DV camera.

Creating/copying a CD or DVD

The best program for burning CDs and DVDs is K3b. K3b is also great for ripping music from CDs and video from DVDs. If you do not have (or do not want) the QT libraries installed, try out x-cd-roast.

Reading and writing documents

A great word processor, spreadsheet and presentation maker is OpenOffice. If you want something smaller, check out AbiWord or Kwrite. For vector based documents, try Inkscape!


Most programs will try and use whatever your default print driver is (usually handled by CUPS). If you are having problems, a good place to get help is linuxprinting.org


Use programs such as Xsane or Kooka.

Managing files

Most desktop environments, such as KDE, Gnome and XFCE come with their own integrated file managing programs. For an alternative, you may want to check out ROX-Filer or Krusader or Nautilis.

Installing new software

Most desktop distributions have their own custom methods of installing new software packages, like YUM, YaST, and RPMdrake. If you are willing to use the command line, popular installers are apt-get, dpkg, rpm and urpmi.

This page will keep changing as new software comes into being from the open-source community.

Organize your desktop Organize your start menu Very configurable desktop Choose from many wallpaper images