Okay: I'll try to be distro-neutral (but knowing what distribution you use would be great).
To create desktop icons:
If you use KDE, right clicking and dragging the 'K' menu icon to the desktop should create a windows-style menu for creating a short-cut. If it does not have a menu icon, try this: [list=1][*]Right click on the desktop[*]Click on the create new shortcut (or something similiar)[*]Put the path to FireFox in the appropriate box[*]Pick an icon (FireFox should come with a few in the same directory as the executable)[*]Name the shortcut[*]Hit 'Okay'[/list=1]
That should be right, but its a while since I used KDE
If you use GNOME the process is similar.
If you use something else, try KDE or GNOME -- they're more user friendly
RPM's are easy to install (more or less). You probably need 'root' access to install them. The usual process is:
Password: <Your root password>
rpm -Uvh <package name>
<blah blah blah, installing installing>
The new program usually
has a man page (accessible by man <program name>
) and installs into the system "PATH" (just type its name to run it).
The other forms of package management (Slackware .tgz's, .deb's, whatever) install similarly, check your documentation.
Compiling from source is slightly more difficult:
First, extract the tarball
tar -xvzf <package>
for .tar.gz or .tgz
tar -xvjf <package>
Then cd to the new directory.
password: <root password>
(To get out of su)
This should install the program and usually documentation.
As with all things, read the readme files and install documentation - Its not as daunting as it looks
Sorry if this is pretty generic, but I need to know what specific programs you're trying to install and what distribution you use to be more specialized.
Also, this fine website probably has tutorials for installing specific things or installing things in specific distributions.