/>
X

Must-have Linux desktop apps (Six Clicks)

Who says you need a Mac or a Windows PC? With the right applications, a Linux desktop is every bit as good as either of the two mainstream desktop operating systems.

|
steven-j-vaughan-nichols.jpg
|
Linux Desktop
1 of 7 sjvn

Linux Desktop

There's nothing I can't do on my Linux PCs that requires Windows. It's really that simple.

On my Linux Mint 17.1 desktop, I can run Windows games, thanks to Crossover, and run thousands of native games including many Steam-powered games. In addition, I don't need to worry about anti-virus software since, despite all the FUD, there still hasn't been a successful desktop Linux virus.

Let's get down to business: Here are the six applications I use  every day to get my work done and keep in touch with my friends. Unless you have some particular program that's Windows only, I think you'll find these six programs may answer for all your daily needs as well.

Chrome
2 of 7 sjvn

Linux's best Web browser: Chrome

Most Linux distributions come with Firefox as their default Web browser. I immediately use it to download Chrome. Chrome is simply the best Web browser out there on any platform.

Firefox has proven glitchy for me in its last few incarnations. Chrome, on the other hand, just keeps running as smoothly as silk.

You don't need to take my word for it. I just ran Futuremark's Peacekeeper universal browser benchmark and, on my Dell XPS 8300 PC with a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and an AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics card running Mint Linux 17.1, 64-bit Chrome 39 blew Firefox 34's doors off with a score of 5,006 to 4,569.

Evolution: The best e-mail client around
3 of 7 sjvn

Evolution: The best e-mail client around

People keep saying e-mail is done. Funny, I may talk about work by voice or over instant messaging (IM) but when it comes time to lock down an assignment I always end up using e-mail. I bet you do too.

These days many people use Gmail or other Web-based e-mail clients, but I still like having my mail in my inbox under my control. Generally speaking, Linux distros come with Thunderbird for their e-mail client and I really, really don't like it.

Back in the day, I used to love it, but over the years Thunderbird has been  neglected by Mozilla. These days I recommend my Windows and Mac using friends use Postbox for their e-mail client needs. It's based on Thunderbird, but it gets the developer love and care needed for a first class e-mail client.

On Linux, however, Evolution is my program of choice. It's fast, even as my mail stores climb into the gigabytes, and it gives me great control over my e-mail. When paired with SpamAssassin, it cuts my spam down by 90 percent or better.

In particular, I've always liked that its e-mail filters give me the power to sort my e-mail anyway I want automatically so I don't have to worry with it.

If I want my mail filtered into folders by who sent it and whether the mail is work related or just idle chatter, I can set Evolution to do that and, once done, I don't need to worry with it again.

My only regret about Evolution is that it only works on Linux. As far as I'm concerned it's the best e-mail client out there on any platform.

Pidgin: A great IM client
4 of 7 sjvn

Pidgin: A great IM client

I work out of a home-office and while my pair of Shih Tzu are good company, they're not much on conversation. So, for my social life, and to stay on top of work, I use IM. I use IM a Lot.

Of course, the problem with IM, if you need to be in touch with a lot of people, like I do, is that everyone is on a different IM network. That's where Pidgin, the universal IM client, shines.

With Pidgin, I can talk to my friends and co-workers on AIM, Google Talk, Facebook, ICQ, Sametime, and Yahoo pretty much every day. It just works—and for an IM client, I don't know any higher praise.

On those days when I need to do video-conferencing or VoIP, I can always turn to Google+ Hangouts or Skype (yes, it runs on Linux). Usually, I find a quick IM chat to work better and faster than a five-minute phone call. Your conversing may vary.

LibreOffice: The best office-suite on any OS
5 of 7 sjvn

LibreOffice: The best office-suite on any OS

While I also work as a consultant, speaker, and expert witness, I earn most of my daily bread by writing. So for me, high-quality word processors and -- to a lesser extent -- spreadsheets and presentation software are essential. That's why I use LibreOffice.

It's not only the best "free" office-suite out there, out-distancing its OpenOffice ancestor in keeping its feature set up to date;  I've found LibreOffice to be the best office suite, period.

Yes, since I test software and operating systems all the time, I have Microsoft Office on all my Windows boxes and Macs. But, you know what?  I find LibreOffice to be more efficient. You may say that LibreOffice with its Office 2003-style interface, looks dated. My reply is: "Yes, and that's how I like it!" You can keep your ribbons and menu choices that vary on usage and release, I'll take the certainty of knowing what's where whenever I want it.

Bluefish: Pick of the catch programmer editor
6 of 7 sjvn

Bluefish: Pick of the catch programmer editor

Once upon a time, I'd write my story and it would then go through a copy editor, an editor, a proof-reader and eventually—yes I'm this old—to a Linotype operator who'd set the type that put my words on paper. Boy, was that a long time ago!

These days, all too often my work flies directly from my keyboard to a content management system and then to your eyes. Along the way, I need to move my words from a document format to HTML For that job, and on those few time when I still write programs, I rely on Bluefish.

I've used lots of programming editors in my day—and I still use vi when I'm in a great hurry—but for its combination of light-weight, speed and features, Bluefish is hard to beat. Now, I never want to be in a place again where I have to edit dozens of programs at once,  -- scattered over local drives, networked disks, and ftp sites -- but if I had to, I know Bluefish can handle it without hesitation

Gimp: A great graphics editor.
7 of 7 sjvn

Gimp: A great graphics editor.

I'm a words guy. As my publication graphic designers can attest, I have no graphical ability or design sense. But, for the last few years, I've had to learn how to the basics of how to manipulate images. That's where Gimp comes in.

No, it's not just Photoshop, but in the hands of an expert user, it can be every bit as good. I'm no expert. But, what I do know is that Gimp enables me to reshape, resize, lightly edit and reformat images without any sweat. That's a big win in my book.

The young woman in the photo, by the by, is Margaret Hamilton, lead software engineer of the Apollo spacecraft in 1969. The paper threatening to fall over on her is some of her assembler source code. And, you think programming is hard today!

Related Galleries

Linux turns 30: The biggest events in its history so far
05-debian.jpg

Related Galleries

Linux turns 30: The biggest events in its history so far

Say hello to the early days of web browsers
netscape-shutterstock-189041855.jpg

Related Galleries

Say hello to the early days of web browsers

Parallels Toolbox 5.0 for Windows and Mac, in pictures
Mac Dashboard

Related Galleries

Parallels Toolbox 5.0 for Windows and Mac, in pictures

Parallels Toolbox 4.5 for PCs, M1 and Intel Macs
Parallels Toolbox

Related Galleries

Parallels Toolbox 4.5 for PCs, M1 and Intel Macs

Parallels Toolbox 4 for Windows and Mac
parallels-toolbox-show-desktop-macos-screenshot

Related Galleries

Parallels Toolbox 4 for Windows and Mac

How to perform a clean install of Windows 10: Here's a step-by-step checklist
00-before-you-start.jpg

Related Galleries

How to perform a clean install of Windows 10: Here's a step-by-step checklist

Linux survival guide: These 21 applications let you move easily between Linux and Windows
apps-for-linux-and-windows.jpg

Related Galleries

Linux survival guide: These 21 applications let you move easily between Linux and Windows