Rh, SuSE, Mandrake or Xandros (right?) are all good choices for newbies. So most people will have their oppinion on which is better, but in the end it's simply personal choice. If you have the opportunity give each one a try to find the one you like best.
Now onto the show...
A lot of the software you will install will be installed into what's known as your PATH. This PATH is a location on your system (or several locations actually) that you don't have to use the full path to run programs from. That way, all you have to do to run an application is type the name of the executable file created during install.
So your question:
How do I know the name of the application?
Well usually it will be in the filename, maybe:
is the filename, after the install, you are likely going to be able to execute that by just typing:
"Ok, so where do I type it?"
You have a few choices. You mentioned one above. Create a shortcut. To create a shortcut you go through the normal process for your system, and then where it asks for the file to execute (path to executable) you can usually just enter the name of the application to be launched as discussed above.
Other ways include typing it into a terminal just like so:
And rocks would launch. You can also use one of the run dialogues should your system have one in use (KDE has such a feature). Desktop icons and menu shortcuts seem to be the most desired, so give that a go.
For those off the wall applications, such as RealPlayer, that uses 'realplay' to execute, you can usually read the documentation on the site where you get the software (or visit the software's homepage which can usually be found by typing in the name of the software at either www.freshmeat.net
) or by reading documentation from your distribution. Occasionally the application slips by us that both has an odd name to run it, AND does NOT get installed into the PATH.
Searching for files...
You can use a search box on some setups (KDE comes with one now) or you can use the good old, handy terminal (command line). In the command line to search for an executable you can use:
And it will locate it for you, IF it's in your PATH. If you just wanna find where something is at, I strongly suggest the use of the locate function:
This will search a database that is created each night (usually) so if you have recently installed an application, locate won't bring it up unless you update the database.
"Ok Chad, thanks, but how do I update the database, I'm a newbie after all?"
You login as root, and type this:
Wait til it finishes, then logout of root and use locate again:
Wildcard searches work as do partial names, so you could use:
And it should return the location of rocks. After that you have several options, probably the easiest being to simply provide the full path (which is reveal from the locate) in the box when creating your link on your desktop icon or in your Menu.