Software Secrets Part II: Linux version

It seems that a few fellow Linux users are back to watching this site, so I thought I’d once again share software I use and enjoy, especially little-known software. Only this time, it’ll be distinctly Linux (specifically Ubuntu) flavored software. If that’s your thing, read on!

  • Kile: an all-in-one program that makes it easy to compose documents in LaTeX format, browse and modify output templates, and print to a variety of formats. I wrote my candidacy exam in LaTeX via Kile, and while I’m forced to use Word files usually (because it’s what my boss knows), I still think I write much more efficiently and create prettier output under a real publishing system instead of a word processor.
  • Amarok: The best music playing program I’ve ever used, bar none. If only it could buy songs from the iTunes store, I’d never need anything else. It manages my music, syncs my iPod, fetches lyrics and band info on the fly, and generally just gets the job done. I love background music, and I love Amarok.
  • hugin: A great automated program for stitching together photos (even badly taken, non-tripod, handicam photos) into beautiful panoramas. The extent of its ability to figure out which photos align together and seamlessly mesh them is phenomenal.
  • Yakuake: This is just a little terminal emulator program, but it’s incredibly convenient– At any time, hit F12 and it scrolls down onto the screen. Then, when you hit F12 again, it folds back away– but doesn’t close the session, so you can leave commands running or whatever. Seeing how much I love the shell (see below), it’s a great time saver.
  • Firefly Media Server: This daap server lets me stream my music across my network– be it to amarok or iTunes. It sets up very easily, doesn’t put much strain on my server, and works great.
  • Crossover Office: Sometimes I still need a windows program. No, it’s true! And when that happens, I can’t beat the convenience of Crossover Office. Default wine may technically be able to run everything, but the auto-configuration, creation of independent “bottles” to store different programs, and guaranteed performance on programs I use (like MS Office 2000, the last good version) make it a winner. I’m actually an advocate for some scientific software for them.
  • An actual Shell: Making this list was a lot harder than I expected it would be. I realized that most of my favorite Linux programs are installed by default (even Amarok, above, but also VNC functionality, Kate, and tons more), or small little scripts, code snippets, or essentially command line programs (ssh, sed (truly, truly, do I love sed)) that just make life easier for me. So I guess I can sum that up and say that what I really love is a full-featured shell environment. It makes me more productive, and let’s my customize the computing experience to meet my needs, rather than adapting myself to Windows.

5 Responses to “Software Secrets Part II: Linux version”

And for those of you who don’t use KDE but use Gnome instead:

Rhythmbox – Music, iPod Sync, Podcasts, Netradio, Music CD/DVD Burning and it syncs up with gajim to show your current music track as your presence.

Compiz – Works with Gnome and KDE. Don’t ever say that linux can’t have a lot of eye candy for it’s desktop.

Evolution – For those of us who’s corporate email server is exchange, this allows for full sync, including calendar. Not a bad email client, not a great one though either. (I miss pine) MP3 Downloader – This has become the bane of my existance. Why? Because they have a native linux binary for Ubuntu and the music you download is DRM free. No AAC BS locking you into an iPod… This just works, no hassles, just MP3s. One downside, it has only 2 of the 4 major labels signed on but I haven’t had a problem yet.

SVN Workbench – This is an amazing GUI tool for working with subversion. Why type paragraphs to do check-ins and outs?

Stephen - April 18th, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Hey Stephen-

Thanks for the links– I didn’t realize their was a deb packaged amazon mp3 client– nifty! Upon a closer look, though, it doesn’t have a 64-bit package. I haven’t needed 32-bit on my system yet… maybe I’ll install the compatibility libraries. Or not. *shrugs*

I use kdesvn for my subversion needs.

I used to use Beryl, but when it merged with Compiz it stopped working well for me, and haven’t really checked out its current status in a few months. Also, it never respected “do not display in taskbar” flags. Maybe in a few more months, it will be robust enough for me– and same deal with KDE 4.0.

Paradoxdruid - April 18th, 2008 at 8:17 pm

I solved the 386-only problem with getlibs, a nice script that downloads and configures only the libraries you need to make a given program run. Checking out the amazon mp3 downloader as we speak…

Paradoxdruid - April 18th, 2008 at 8:30 pm

I was actually going to say something about amarok on the other post. It’s definitely a nice program, and soon to be a cross-platform with amarok 2.0 being released for windows.

Compiz was a little unstable for me after it merged, but it’s seeming to be pretty well behaved now. It might be worth checking it out again. Though since you say you use KDE, then just waiting for KDE 4.0 for eye candy probably isn’t much a problem. I’ve tested it out a little and like it better than compiz. It’s not quite as flashy, but has all the things that I like best anyway, plus it’s better integrated into KDE.

I installed kile a little while ago meaning to figure it out since I’ve heard lots of good things about using latex, but I haven’t had much need for much writing lately, so it hasn’t gotten used much.

Qtiplot is a nice program for making graphs that are a little more complex than I want to deal with gnuplot. Apparently it’s meant to be an open-source clone of Origin, though I haven’t used Origin to know how well it compares. The only downside is it’s a little clunky for doing calculations within the program, So I usually end up using openoffice and copy my final numbers over.

And it’s more than a single program, but I figured I’d give a plug for Arch linux, the distro I’ve been running for about 2 years now. Ubuntu was great for starting out in linux, but after a couple attempts to upgrade to a newer version failed to go smoothly, Arch’s rolling release was pretty appealing, I just install it once and update regularly. I also like the idea of having a system that’s been built up from a stripped down base and is pretty much just what I need and not a bunch of extra stuff that ubuntu seems to include. It’s a little more work to get up and running, but is nice once it’s up and easy to maintain as long as you pay attention to news for any warnings before major updates.

mcmillan - April 21st, 2008 at 6:16 pm

That’s too bad about your upgrade hell. So-far, my Ubuntu upgrades have been very smooth, but you never know. At the same time, I very much like a system that has regular release dates and real versions. When you’re adminning more than a single machine, you need to have everything on the same version, and neither Arch or Gentoo are designed around that goal. For a few machines though, I can certainly see the appeal.

If you want a slimmed down Ubuntu, you can certainly have it. Install from the alternate CD, and don’t select any tasks at the end. You’ll have a very lightweight system and can then add the packages you want one at a time (plus dependencies, of course)

Ted - April 21st, 2008 at 9:52 pm

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