A zillion Linux applications are available. Here are our picks. And they're free.

OpenOffice.org (www.openoffice.org): Yes, the full name is OpenOffice.org, not just OpenOffice. This entirely free office applications suite is based on Sun Microsystems' commercially available StarOffice suite.

The suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentation and drawing programs, all of which import numerous document types, including Microsoft Word files created in all versions from 97 to 2003.

It's also available as a free download for Windows and Mac, so you can set it as standard for your office.

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The GIMP (www.gimp.org): The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a full-featured graphics editor that offers the majority of the features you'll find in Adobe Photoshop, but very much unlike the latter, it's free. Also available for Windows and Mac.

Thunderbird (www.mozilla.org/thunderbird): An extremely rich e-mail program from the organization that brought you Firefox. While at mozilla.org, go to the Projects page to download and install SeaMonkey, which combines a browser, e-mail program and simple HTML editor.

Pidgin (pidgin.im): An instant-messenger application that cooperates with the other major IM programs out there, letting you use all your IM accounts at the same time.

Amarok (amarok.kde.org): A KDE-based, extremely full-featured music player, designed to work with Apple iPods, Creative ZENs and numerous other popular portable music players. (You can make it run on other environments as well.)

Evolution (www.gnome.org/projects/evolution): Excellent e-mail program for GNOME users, integrating e-mail, address book and calendar.

Rosegarden (www.rosegardenmusic.com): This music recording and editing software is along the lines of Sonar (www.cakewalk.com) or Cubase (www.steinberg.net), popular music production packages for Windows.

AVG Anti-Virus (free.grisoft.com): Linux may be much less open to virus attacks than Windows is, but that doesn't make it completely invulnerable. AVG offers this antivirus package free to Linux users. It offers protection for up to three home PCs.

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