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Linux Tutorial - Linux and Windows - Easing the Transition to Linux - The Right Tools
  Windows Look-n-Feel ---- Sharing Files  

The Right Tools

One of the strongest arguments again Linux continues to be the lack of applications. People are not willing to change if they cannot get those things done which they need to .What is the point of a stable, easily configurable operating system when it just sits in the corner because there are no tools to do productive work?

Although this is true to some extent, there are two big problems with the statement that there are no applications. First, it would be better to say "lack of shrink wrapped applications." Like Linux itself, most of the applications provide with the various distributions fall under the General Public License (GPL) and, as such, are freely available from a number of sites if not already include in your favorite distribution. The second biggest problem is that people often thing that because Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop are not (yet) available for Linux, then there are no applications.

Although the familiarity with these products tends to make people like them, it does not mean there are no applications. In fact, a number of commercial software vendors have already ported their products to Linux (such as StarOffice, WordPerfect, and ApplixWare). It may that one of more of these is already provided with your distribution. For example, both Caldera and SuSE provide StarOffice. Plus there are a number of open source products that can solve your needs, such as the OpenOffice suite, the GIMP for graphic design and many others.

If you are looking for a particular kind of software, check out either http://www.linux.org or http://metalab.unc.edu/. Both sites allow you to search on particular criteria, although the LinuxOrg site is specifically geared toward Linux software.

Regrettably, there are a number of tools that do not have a Linux counterpart or the Linux counterpart lacks the necessary features. One product that I cannot really do without is MindManager, from MindJet LLC. MindManager is based on the technique of "mind mapping" developed by Tony Buzan. Most thought processes are not linear as, but we typically write down ideas, notes and so forth in a linear fashion (such as checklists, outlines, and so forth). Mind mapping lets you "visually" lay out your ideas. By using mind maps, my productivity and efficient at work has increased and my teen-aged son's grades have improved by an entire grade point since using mind maps. To create many of our maps, we use MindManager. Unfortunately there is not yet a Linux version.

Note that there are couple of mind mapping tools available for Linux. I have looked at both View Your Mind and Freemind Both are useful tools particularly for beginning mind mappers, but like many Open Source projects, they lack a number of features. Unfortunately that is often the case with "speciality" products like mind mappers.

However, that has not stopped me. Because I find MindManager such a useful tool, I use VMWare to create a virtual PC and load Windows 98 just so I can run MindManager. At work, I need other specific programs that only run under Windows, so I use VMWare at work as well. Other people have to switch back and forth between two machines, but I have just a single machine running VMWare.

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