This section covers software designed primarily for a standalone computer. All the popular Linux distros come bundled with software as part of the basic installation, and that may be enough for your immediate needs. But suppose the software application you want is not part of the basic installation. The first place to look is in the application repositories. Linux software comes in packages, simply locate what you need then download and install it to customise your machine.
Software can also be downloaded and installed directly from the open source software providers on the internet. Here you need to be a little more careful to pick the correct package for your Linux operating system. These packages are mostly pre-compiled, but the software provider will also offer the source code as well. This you must compile yourself before it will run on your system, but this is at the heart of open source software. It means that if you have the necessary skills, you can modify or enhance the software to meet some specific need. The changes can then be made available to the wider community
If you are used to a particular piece of commercial software, then you will need to look for a Linux equivalent. For example, in the case of Photoshop, the closest alternative is probably the GIMP, but there are others, which may not contain all the features of Photoshop, or the GIMP, but are perfectly adequate for your purposes.
Two other options are
- Dual boot, i.e. install Linux, and some other operating system on the same machine.
- Install Linux, then create a virtual machine to run your favourite application.
If you are new to Linux its a good idea to subscribe to one of the Linux magazines, to see what's out there. They are a good place to pick up live CD's which enable you try out Linux. You may also join one of the many internet Linux community groups that will answer questions and provide general assistance, or seek out a Linux User Group (LUG) in your area.