Well, of course, there's a world of software for Linux. If you're really sold on office productivity suites you can even go out and buy those. If you came from the Unix world to start with (good for you!) then you can have all your old familiar favourites like TeX, emacs, latex2html, ps2ascii, and so forth. And all the languages you ever loved, of course. But somehow that still doesn't convince the Mac or PC user. Where are the cool toys?
So the Linux user, with some handwaving, counters: Heck, nowadays you can get not only PostgreSQL, but Sybase and Oracle and Ingres database engines for Linux, and most if not all are FREE for home or nonprofit use! And what about xfig? and ghostview? Hey, let me show you xv! But that still won't blow away those "other OS" users. So, imho, what you need to show them is... GIMP. Now, this is something whose sheer coolness even a Mac user can understand :-)
If you got your Linux from Red Hat then you probably have gimp already -- installed and ready to use. What is it? Well, it's pretty much Adobe Photoshop for Phree. Plus a lot of what you'd have to buy separately in the "Kai" packages. And it reads and writes a staggering variety of image formats. How many image processing tools on the PC can read or write a FITS image? Please, I want to know, write and tell me.
GIMP passes the "idiot test" with flying colours -- you can have a whale of a time just messing about ignorantly with the various tools. You won't get anywhere, and you'll wonder what Planet of the Psychos you've just landed on, but it's fun. Trying to do anything constructive will require some serious RTFM, but I got going in about three 2-hour sessions. I should say that at least 80 percent of that time was probably spent on incidents like this one: "Gee, what a cool colour gradient, I wonder what the others look like -- oh wow, there are thirty of them? guess this is gonna take a while..." In other words, I was stopping and smelling the roses more than grimly learning the tool. Someone less easily distracted could have figured it all out in an hour or less :-)
GIMP goodies I used to make this image:
Please note that I make no claim to be a professional graphic artist, though I've done some paper layout in my time and know the basic concepts of the trade. This pictures here are just to show what a rank amateur -- a complete newbie! -- can do with GIMP and just a few hours of practise, in spare time. So next time someone asks you "where are the toys" on your Linux box, proudly bring up the GIMP... and plan to postpone dinner...
By the way, this page has nothing whatsoever to do with the UC Regents.