GNU/Linux Desktop Applications

SJVN briefly reviews 6 desktop applications that work for him in GNU/Linux. “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.”We both love GNU/Linux but there are some differences in favourite applications. Here’s why.

Choice SJVN Me
1 Chrome Browser Me too. Chrome is sharp despite my misgivings about Google’s intrusiveness. I want my browser to know me and what I want and what I will click next.
2 Evolution OK, but I prefer to stick with Google. Evolution would be my choice if I dropped Google Mail.
3 Pidgin I’ve used it but rarely. I would put Gnumeric in this spot because it’s so easy to style the charts, and they are SVG so I don’t need to fiddle with thumbnails.
4 LibreOffice Right on! Except for having to dig deep in styling spreadsheets, it’s perfect. Styles for spreadsheets are in the pipe…
5 Bluefish Good, but I use Vim or Gedit or ClipMan more often. They are simpler and just work for me. I also use Autokey to code in frequently occurring strings to save time. alt-T gave me this table, for instance, and I replicated rows by copy/paste…
6 Gimp Good as well, but I supplement it with ImageMagick for bulk-processing or resizing quickly.

So, there’s no major disagreement and plenty of overlap in our choices. That’s no coincidence. Applications for GNU/Linux have never been better and they keep improving. This is what comes of having diversity and FLOSS. The good stuff floats to the top like cream. The second and third-strings are deep too, for things I do rarely like draw something, there’s Inkscape. For grooving to music while I work, there are mplayer and vlc. In infrastructure, there are servers and client applications that make a PC really powerful and flexible. The distinction between server and client disappears on my desktop. It’s one machine or six depending on my whim. I can control one or all at once with SSH and data can flow around the LAN and the ‘Net as easy as it can around my PC. It’s all good.

See Must-have Linux desktop apps (Six Clicks).

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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10 Responses to GNU/Linux Desktop Applications

  1. dougman says:

    Actually the push to “Linux Desktop” and Linux in general is a better deal for all, as it offers more security and stability. The only marketplace that M$ still has is the Desktop and only that market, anywhere else and they are losers. See, this is the beauty of Chromebooks, as they “transcend” the entire desktop and offer a much better solution.

    When all the Android apps are merged to ChromeOS, M$ will be left in the dust. But unlike M$, Google isn’t trying to force it down peoples throats. Surface and Windows 8 was basically crammed down everyones throat with a cavalier “take it or leave it” approach which blew-up in M$ face.

  2. DrLoser says:

    There are probably a few choices in each of six slots able to please hundreds of different types of usage/people.

    Well, that’s a decent argument, although I wouldn’t extend it too far. As I say, Chrome is an unexceptionable choice. Conceivably, LibreOffice is a horse with legs, although I can’t say it’s making a lot of headway against M$ Office. I’m not even sure it’s making much headway against Softmaker or Kingsoft.

    Thing is, and you implicitly acknowledge this (I think), the list of popular software is a power series. Right up at the top of the series you have a general need for a browser and an Office Suite. Beyond that, it drops off to niches. And the thing about niches is that people tend to have strong preferences within their own particular niche.

    You, SJVN, and (who knows?) Dougie have your own preferences, and no amount of pointing out that vi(m) is an absurd choice, or that practically nobody uses Pidgin, or … pick niche here … will change your mind. Which is admirable, as far as consistency goes.

    But it ain’t much of a sales pitch to the disinterested prospective customer. “Switch to Linux and use Vim!” I mean, people are going to be really disappointed when they discover that it doesn’t clean their toilet bowls.

    SJVN has been banging on with this same silly list for years. I’m amazed that you’ve let your guard down and consented to agree with him.

  3. DrLoser says:

    Loser, a world-renowned expert in software, thinks that SJVN list is a “subset of Linux programs”, when in fact the majority of them are available on Windows, with LibreOffice being the most popular one.

    In which case, they’re not much of an argument for going Linux Desktop, are they, Dougie?

    Stay on-message here. These are shining examples of the dedicated programmer’s craft, as both a Snake Oil Salesman and a Microsoft Troll can agree. Who could possibly want for more?

    And therefore it grieves me to point out that even Robert and SJVN consider the Linux Desktop, on its own, not much of a selling point.

    Otherwise they wouldn’t be focussing on this ratty dreck that nobody actually wants. (I except Chrome and arguably LibreOffice from this comment.)

  4. dougman quoth, “SJVN list is a “subset of Linux programs””

    It is sort of a subset. Everyone has some key applications they frequently run. There are probably a few choices in each of six slots able to please hundreds of different types of usage/people. When you get to the choices available in the lesser-used applications, there are very few who cannot get along with GNU/Linux if they consider functionality rather than brand/lock-in. Munich reached 90% coverage or so with just a bit of rational behaviour. They could easily reach 100%. It’s just a matter of time.

  5. dougman says:

    Loser, a world-renowned expert in software, thinks that SJVN list is a “subset of Linux programs”, when in fact the majority of them are available on Windows, with LibreOffice being the most popular one.

    LibreOffice > Office 365 ($10 monthly subscription)

  6. DrLoser says:

    Those are my/SJVN’s choices.

    They could be choices mandated by God, for all it matters.

    Chrome, I understand. Not a one of evolution, pidgin or bluefish is “best in class,” or even anywhere near. And GiMP is just a pointless disaster for anybody with the faintest touch of ability in graphical design.

    Vi(m), on the other hand, sits on the naughty stool at the back of whatever class you care to mention. An editor with two modes (control and display)? What a dumb idea, even in 1976. Not to mention that it worked on top of ed (I neither know nor care whether it still does) and would occasionally drop you back in to a completely different command set. (Yes, this has happened to me. Frequently.)

    Vi(m) is the only text editor in current existence that forces you to make a context switch via ESC-I before you can actually paste text from the clipboard.

    Does that make sense? No, it doesn’t.

    The other four programs are just useless garbage that do not appeal to anybody who has not already drunk the Kool-Aid.

    But, whatever. This is the subset of Linux programs that you and SJVN have chosen to highlight the “usability” of the Linux Desktop, Robert. I’m afraid you’re going to have to live with your recommendations. Because

    Another user may well have a different set

    is a completely meaningless mea culpa, isn’t it?

    “Oh, did you say you wanted a garden tractor? Here’s a scale model of the Angel of the North. It’s just a big ole lump of steel, when it comes down to it. Have a blowtorch!”

  7. DrLoser wrote of a user, “vim, evolution, pidgin, bluefish and GiMP”.

    Those are my/SJVN’s choices. Another user may well have a different set. The Little Woman, here, for instance, does not use any of those except Gimp which she loves. She uses Chrome or FireFox interchangeably, and most of her applications are on the web. She uses Thunar file-manager and Geeqie image-viewer a lot. She uses mplayer and vlc from time to time but is unaware that the (web/file-)browser calls them up mostly. Oh, she loves LibreOffice. It works for her.

  8. Dr Loser says:

    It would also be an excellent marketing opportunity.

    No doubt, in the six months since we last heard of the lady in question, she has mastered vim, evolution, pidgin, bluefish and GiMP and bent them to her needs.

    And if not, she will no doubt be ready and willing to tell you where to stick them … on the desktop, naturally.

  9. Dr Loser says:

    A random thought bubbles up, consequent upon this “Linux has applications that work for everybody!” post.

    Have you, perchance, visited that elderly near-neighbour upon whom you foisted GNU/Linux, just to check up on how she’s doing?

    Perhaps a phone call?

    ‘Tis the time of Good Will and Giving and all that …

  10. Dr Loser says:

    I’ll leave my own preferences at the door here. (For example, I despise vi in any flavour, and cannot understand why anybody would use anything other than emacs as a text editor.)

    Notice the obvious thing about that list, however? Two of them are in popular use (popular defined as more than 5%): Chrome and LibreOffice.

    Both are Free as in Beer, and both mimic their closed-source competition closely. It could even be said that Chrome does a better job than IE (also free as in beer, incidentally), although I’ve so far only seen a single case of this … well done this blog in messing up the CSS so that IE can’t deal with it! Libre limps along but is fine if you don’t want to pay for M$ Office. Or use another free as in beer alternative.

    The others? Not only are they garbage, Robert, but they are garbage that nobody outside the Linux Community has ever heard of.

    Revolution? It’s gonna be a long time a-coming if these are the Top Six.

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