If you are a Windows user you most likely know where to get software. You can either go to your local software retailer or you can go to a place like downloads.com. But what if you are searching for Linux software? Where do you go? Is there a one stop shop for all of your software needs? Yes and no. Even though that answer is not a resounding YES! there is a plus side - there are tons of software titles to have with Linux. But without knowing where to look, the downside is you might not even know that software exists.
With that in mind I am going to point out some of the best ways (and places) to find software for the Linux operating system. Some of these might be all too obvious. Some may not. We'll start with the obvious.
I told you I was going to start with the obvious. Even after 10+ years of using Linux I still find happy surprises in the menu of an installed system. Applications I never knew about or had forgotten about. Make sure when you are in need of a piece of software you go through your menu to make sure what you are looking for isn't already there. And if you're not sure what a menu entry is you can typically hover your mouse over the entry to see a comment which will explain what the software is (or does).? Most of the time the menus of your desktop are well thought out. This means each menu entry is well placed and aptly named. But sometimes a piece of software might belong in more than one category. Because of that you might expect to find Software A in Menu 1 when in fact Software A is actually in Menu 2. Scribus is a good example of this. Scribus is a desktop publishing software. In GNOME the menu entry for Scribus almost always winds up in the Graphics menu. In my opinion it should be in the Office menu. So some times you have to search around to find what you're looking for.
Believe it or not, package management is where Linux blows Windows out of the water. Open up Synaptic and check to see how many pieces of software your distribution holds. In my Elive Compiz distribution Synaptic reports over 23,000 pieces of software available for me to install. And each piece of software is a search away. If you don't know what you are looking for you can click on a category and search around for something that will fit your bill. And you know if that software is in your package management system, it will install with a single click.
I have to admit I am not loving the new freshmeat.net (especially since they got rid of the themes), but it still one of the best places to find software. Freshmeat claims to be the worlds largets open source and cross-platform software repository. And it is. And with Freshmeat you can keep on top of things by subscribing to their RSS feed. This will allow you to know what software has been added or upgraded on a daily basis. The freshmeat search tool is also one of the best you'll find.
Just bring back the themes Freshmeat!
The LinuxSoftware.org site doesn't hold nearly the amount of software as Freshmeat. Nor does this site serve as a repository to hold the software. What is nice about this site is the software is easily categorized and each piece of software has a brief description and a link to the home page of that software. It's simple to use and quick to find a piece of software to fit your needs.
From this same site you can also find distributions as well as books about Linux.
The Linux.org site is similar to LinuxSoftware.org with the addition of Linux news and information about training, people, hardware, vendors, projects, and events. There are also more software categories to choose from on Linux.org.
Did you know that Softpedia has a Linux section? To me this site is just as good as Freshmeat, if not better. A very simple to navigate site that has tons of software. The biggest difference between this site and others is that Softpedia doesn't have the desire to be a primarily open source site. Instead you will find a mixture of prices and licenses.
And there you have it. If you can't find it in one of the above methods, then it most likely doesn't exist.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.