Disclaimer: I am not an investment advisor. When I describe my own trading activities, it is not intended as advice or solicitation of any kind.

26 September 2011

Applications: A Survey

See Time For a Change for the first in this series, or view the index to see all the entries dealing with Arch Linux. In this post, I'll list some of the applications that make this machine a home.

When I switched from Windows to Linux, I found myself looking for applications to do things that I took for granted before. Eventually, I settled on my favorite programs for each of these tasks, but in so doing I learned to make some compromises, try new ways of doing things, and found unexpected features. That, in a nutshell, is what this whole Arch experiment is all about. So let's start with a list of activities that need software support, and the apps I use for each of them on Ubuntu today.

  • Word Processing, Spreadsheets, etc: On Ubuntu 10.10, that's all covered by Open Office; on Arch and on newer distro versions, it's Libre Office.
  • Web Browsing: Ubuntu ships with Firefox, but I've been playing around with Chrome lately, and I think I like it a smidge better. One thing that always seems to cause problems is Flash, so I'll watch out for that. The open-source variant of Chrome is Chromium, so that's what I'll use.
  • Secure Password Storage: This is one I don't compromise on. Back in Windows, I used Password Safe, which was originally developed by Counterpane Software, but has since been moved into the open source community. When I went to Linux, I used Wine to let me keep using it. They have a Linux native beta now, which I hope to use on Arch.
  • Personal Finance: I use a java-based program on Linux called Moneydance. It isn't Quicken by any stretch, but it runs natively and gets the job done.
  • Options Trading: I have that account with ThinkOrSwim I've mentioned a few times, and they have their own trading platform. It's also java-based, so I don't expect any problems.
  • Minecraft: a great way to lose an hour, or a weekend. Also java-based.
  • Photo editing: the Linux standard for photo editing is The Gimp. It has nearly as many features as Adobe's Photoshop, and it's free and open source. (psst, it also runs on Windows)
  • Speaking of Adobe, a PDF reader: simple... there is a reader built into KDE called Okular.
  • Cloud Storage: I use Dropbox to carry a bunch of cruft around with me.
  • E-Mail: I use Thunderbird in Ubuntu right now, but it's really annoying me with its constant update nags and insistence on using Firefox to launch links. I'd also like better integration with contacts and calendars, instead of having to use a browser for that.
  • Twitter/Facebook Stream-following: Ubuntu defaults to Gwibber for that stuff, and it annoys me in many ways, but I haven't found a good replacement.
  • Notes / Personal Organizer: I have a free Evernote account, which I use on my Android phone. But Evernote doesn't make a Linux desktop app, so I use an open-source clone that integrates with the Evernote servers called NixNote (formerly Nevernote).
  • Instant Messaging: I ditched the ad-laden, bloated default IM clients a long time ago. Right now I use Pidgin to chat on Yahoo and MSN (or whatever they're calling it these days). There is also a facebook chat plugin, although it doesn't seem to be working lately. Facebook keeps changing its chat protocol, so that's not a big surprise.
  • VOIP: I use Skype to chat with the poker buddies on Friday nights, and hopefully I won't have to go back to booting a Windows machine for that.
  • Programming Environment: At the office, and here at home, I use Netbeans. It has a pretty friendly interface and fairly good code completion and auto-formatting, even if it is pitifully slow when opening a new project the first time.
  • Hex Editor: we nerds occasionally need something a little more precise than a text editor. For that, I use a nice little editor called Bless that I found in the Ubuntu repository one day.
  • Audio Editing: I'm too lazy to go find something better or easier to use than Audacity.
  • Music Player: I use a player called Clementine that I had to work pretty hard to get working in Ubuntu. I really like it, so I'm willing to work fairly hard to get it working in Arch, too. Unless KDE has a better one pre-installed, of course.
  • Video Editing: the first time I went skiing with the camera, I went looking for a video editor and eventually settled on OpenShot.
  • Automated Backups: I have been using Bacula for years. It primarily runs on the file server, so it has very little exposure to the Arch conversion. I just need to get the client running so my machine will get backed up.
  • Windows stuff: sometimes I have to run Windows programs. I hate doing it, but that's life. For that, I use Wine... just like every other Linux user in the world.
That's a pretty long list! Rather than diving right in, this is probably a good place to stop.

Next: The Easy Ones

Or check out the Index

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