Coming from Windows, your best bet is to use KDE as your desktop, as that's probably closest to what you're used to. Then again, if you're already using GNOME and don't know how/want to change, then don't sweat it as they're both pretty similar to what you're used to and easy to pick up.
A useful piece of advice is to get to know how your package manager works. That's the software that downloads, configures and installs software for you, and once you get the hang of that, you can always get a tool for the task you need. For Debian and Ubuntu that's apt-get, for Fedore it's yum, for SUSE it's YAST (I think). You may need to look around to 'get the feel' of which applications are generally used for what tasks; at the risk of prompting disagreements, I'd say that the following are widely used for general desktop tasks:
- Web browser: Mozilla Firefox (though KDE's built-in Konqueror and GNOME's built-in Epiphany are both more than suitable)
- Email: Mozilla Thunderbird (again, KDE and GNOME's built-in email clients are fine for just sending and receiving mail - or if you use Hotmail/Gmail etc, use your browser )
- Media player: MPlayer (GNOME's Totem is an excellent alternative, and I personally use VLC)
- Audio Player: Take your pick. There are many out there, all the video players generally do audio too, but one of the original and still favoured ones is xmms
- Office suite: OpenOffice.org
- Graphics suite: The GIMP
I think that covers a few of the more common tools - it's also worth noting that it doesn't matter if someone uses something different from you. In Linux, you'll find you have a lot of choice
, and feel free to pick whichever piece of software works best for you - you'll generally find it plays nicely with other tools so you don't need to worry about being left out if you want to be different.
And above all, the most important thing is not to be unwilling to learn. Keep your eyes and mind open and you'll pick things up in no time. Don't be afraid to ask for help, either - we've all been there once, and someone who's willing to learn is a great person to teach. Linux is a different kettle of fish to Windows - and in my mind, a kettle of much nicer fish. It won't be exactly the same, but once you get used to it there's no going back.
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