i'm new to linux as well. i've been using it for a while now but without doing stuff like installing new software. until two days ago...
i wanted to install the latest firefox. of course i did the usual stuff: reading the faq on their website, reading the programs install instructions after downloading, playing around with the install manager etc. , but obviously i wouldn't suceed.
after some webresearch i found out about the mandriva package manager and the easyurpmi website. unfortunately i chose a bad server from argentina and found only very few programs. i was about to give up already, but the next day, after reading some more, i did the same with a different server - et voila!
go to wow.mandrakehelp.com/RPM-HOWTO.html and then to easyurpmi.zarb.org and you'll succeed!