Hidebound blogger tries getting hip with new OS

I’ve worked with computers for almost a quarter-century, but with the exception of some mainframe management in SCO Unix, I’ve been a PC/Windows adherent.  I used to build my own PCs until about ten years ago, when it got too cheap to buy custom PCs to make it worth all of the effort to assemble them myself.  I’ve mostly bought laptops in the last few years, which got me out of the self-build mode altogether, but I’ve always wanted to try something new.

I’ve had an old IBM Thinkpad laying around gathering dust for several months.  It came from a consulting relationship with my last corporate employer, but they haven’t needed my services in a long time, and it ran on Windows NT, which is next to impossible to customize.  I figured it would make a good environment for an experiment in Linux, which I’ve never used.

After starting off with a trial version of Red Hat, which I botched completely, I installed Ubuntu.  This looks like an easy-to-use entry level Linux OS.  It has a point-and-click environment and many native applications, and it also has OpenOffice embedded in it.  I switched to OpenOffice a few months ago when I gave up on the resource-hogging Microsoft Office, and I have never regretted it.  Firefox came installed, and I added Thunderbird  — and after several attempts, finally figured out how to import my settings from my other laptop.  I’ve even managed to impress my son, who didn’t think I’d ever get adventurous enough to defy the corporate control of Microsoft, or something.  I couldn’t quite make out what he said through his laughter.

Now, though, I’m a little at a loss.  I don’t know the command-line protocols very well, having forgotten almost all of my SCO Unix, which is probably not very applicable anyway.  If the laptop will be my back-up, I’ll need a good photo and video editor as well as a better RSS feedreader than Newsfox (Omea doesn’t have a Linux version, unfortunately).  I’d like to hear from Hot Air readers using Ubuntu.  What are your favorite apps, especially in these categories?  What tips or tricks do you suggest?  And what in Ubuntu works better than Windows, and what doesn’t?