Congratulations, you've reached the end of this first segment in our Definitive Linux App Roundup. By now, Windows power users should have some good options for replacing your Web browser, BitTorrent client, podcatcher, RSS reader, download manager, FTP client, and even P2P software. If you were looking for email clients, instant messaging, or VoIP, then stay tuned for the next installation, where we cover communication-oriented applications.
As I explained in the Introduction and the Standards & Methodology pages, this was not a complete listing of Internet-oriented apps. In fact, it's just a small fraction of the programs available for Linux. If you were to throw in all of the apps that met my usability criteria, but failed in quality, this would be a larger article by up to 100 percent. If you take out the usability criteria, opening up the field for apps available via a shell installer, the article would easily triple in size. If you were to further break down my standards and allow for apps available only via source code, this little roundup would easily enter into Shinobi territory. I just couldn't do that kind of article. This is, after all, a follow-up to an installation guide for Linux newbs. All of these apps are painless to install, making them perfect even for neophytes.
Besides, opening up to the shell installers would require writing a new How-To article explaining that process, and compiling from source code is another can of worms entirely. But that is what makes Linux great. The rabbit hole goes much deeper than it does in Windows. With proprietary systems, you can only go so far until you reach a stop sign--a clear barrier where the realm of the power-user ends and the developer begins. In Linux, that barrier simply isn't there. If you want to be a novice, there are many distributions that cater to you, with all the pre-loaded software conceivable for such a level of expertise. On the other end of the spectrum, if something isn't working the way that you want it to (and you have the expertise), there is nothing stopping you from modifying the code yourself.
Whether you've already made the jump after our previous installation guide or are still using Windows, I encourage you to use the links found in the article to download the software for yourself. Everyone has different needs, and only you can determine whether or not it's necessary to pay for software. Remember, a hardcore PC gamer shouldn't use Linux, period. But there is absolutely no reason that a great many others should have to pay for retail software. Anybody wondering why a software guy, especially a Linux fiend, is writing for Tom's Hardware, allow me to explain. The answer is rather quite simple: because hardware is all that I buy!