Thursday, June 2, 2011

Native Applications for Windows and Linux

While discussing Linux with my wife for a while, she brought up something that a lot of Linux users are guilty of saying (myself included) and I wanted to bring attention to that with a post.  She said that we always make a comparison that we have programs "like" a Windows application and sometimes you need or want the real thing.  For example, you may have a lot of money invested in your iTunes account and are not too thrilled with the idea of switching to Banshee (though I ditched iTunes many, many years ago and like Banshee personally) and this is understandable.  For those of you that would like cross-platform applications I've decided to try and build a list of some that you have probably heard of and may be likely to use.

Web Browsers

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox takes the second highest percentage of the market share behind Internet Explorer, so there is a good possibility that you have heard or even tried this browser.  If this browser is a favorite of yours and you want it in Linux then you're in luck.  There is a good chance that it will come installed by default in almost any distribution that you choose to use.

Google Chrome is another browser that you've likely heard of fairly recently due to increasing popularity.  This browser features include the ability to sync your apps, passwords, preferences, themes, bookmarks, extensions, and autofill options across all computers that use your Gmail account.  

Opera is another browser available on Android/iOS/Linux/Mac/Window that is intended on allowing users to go between devices easily.  Other than that, I am not too familiar with this browser.

Productivity & Multimedia

Audacity - Sound Editor

Audacity allows the user to record live audio, edit sound files, splice audio, change speed and pitch, and many other features including the use of plug-ins.

Dropbox - Backup & Sharing

Dropbox is a program that runs in the background of your computer and allows you to synchronize folders between computers of the same account, share folders between friends, or have a public folder to share files with anyone (like the images I use for the blog).  They offer a free service of 2 GB up to 8 GB of storage before you can opt to pay a monthly fee for more.

FileZilla Client - FTP Client

The FileZilla client is a FTP client that is available across all platforms.  The server on the other hand is available on Windows only.

LibreOffice - Office Suite

LibreOffice is capable of doing many things that other office suites can do.  There are 6 programs in LibreOffice, some of which include: Writer, a word processer, Impress, for presentations, and Math, an equation editor.  I also recommend you check out OpenOffice, since both projects were originally designed by the same team prior to a falling out.

Gimp - Photo Editing

Gimp is a free photo editing program that a lot of you have probably used, particularly if you are not a serious graphic designer and just need to edit the occasional photo.  I'm not going to bash it though, some very impressive things can be done with Gimp if you take the time to learn it, but it does have a slightly higher learning curve than Photoshop in my opinion.

Inkscape - Vector Graphics Editor

According to their website: Inkscape is an "open source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format." - Office Suite

It is possible you have heard of this program or even used it before in Windows.  This Office Suite consists of a word processor, spreadsheet,  and presentation software.  If you've used this, I suggest you try out LibreOffice as well and see which of the two you like better since it is from developers.

Picasa - Picture Management

Picasa is a place where you can upload, edit, share, and manage your photos online.

Thunderbird - Email Client

Thunderbird is a cross-platform email client that works for many types of services.  It works for all your standard server types and can even be set up with an Outlook Exchange server, but has some trouble properly syncing some aspects of it.


Pidgin - Instant Messaging

Unlike many chat programs in Windows that support multiple clients, this one is both free and does not have any advertisements. Also, if your particular client isn't supported by default, then chances are that a plugin for Pidgin exists to support it. The supported chat networks are as follows: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, Groupwise, ICQ, IRC, MSN, MXit, MySpaceIM, QQ, SILC, SIMPLE, Sametime, XMPP, Yahoo!, and Zephyr. Through the addition of plugins, you can gain access to Facebook IM, Skype, Twitter, Xfire and more.

Skype - Internet Phone

Skype has numerous features and the fact that it has a native client for Linux is definitely a good one.  It covers the spectrum of Internet phone calls, to video calling, and messaging.  

TweetDeck - Social Media

TweetDeck is available two ways currently in Linux.  You can install it as a standalone application with this tutorial or in the Google Chrome web app store for free.  This application helps organize all of your social media (Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and MySpace) accounts into easy to read columns and helps you keep track of when you have new messages.


KeePass - Password Manager

KeePass is a password manager that remembers passwords and stores them in a central database protected by a master key or key file.  To unlock your database, all you have to do is type the password or select the password file and your database is unlocked.  

TrueCrypt - Encryption Software

For the security-conscious out there, TrueCrypt allows you to encrypt folders, partitions, or storage devices and access them by entering a password of your choosing.

Media Players

Boxee is a media program that is capable of turning your computer into an on-demand home theater PC and providing you access to many services that you may subscribe to.  It also allows you to stream media from your hard drives to your TV/monitor should you choose to do that.

A benefit of VLC is the ability of it to play almost anything.  This is true of the Linux version as well and it is also a light weight video player.

If you want something a little more interactive and organized for your media, XBMC is a great application for when you want your computer to be act like a home theater.  If you would like help setting up XBMC to download cover art, (almost) automatic subtitle downloading then you can follow my tutorial here.

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