handyfloss

Because FLOSS is handy, isn’t it?

Programs I use, and why

[This page is under heavy development - Think of it as a beta]

I intent to make a kind of list of free software programs I use for different tasks, mentioning alternatives when pertinent, and giving reasons why I use what I use.

This section is actually for self reference, because I keep asking myself once in a “why don’t I use this or that program that looks so good?”. Anyway, it might make for interesting reading for any GNU/Linux user.

Desktop environment

I use Xfce. People (even its developers) insist that its best pro is speed. I don’t agree: I use it for style and looks.

PROs

  • It is clean and simple, with minimal bloat, yet good looking

CONs

  • Speed. I don’t know why, but starting it takes ages. More than KDE even. And afterwards, opening apps takes as long as with any other DE

Alternatives

  • KDE. The upcoming KDE4 looks really good, but up to now I find it bloated and cursi (affected or pretentious)
  • GNOME

Image viewer

I use Eye of GNOME. It is the image viewer I feel most comfortable with. See Wikipedia Comparison of image viewers

PROs

  • It reads most file formats
  • It resizes the image automatically to fit the window
  • Zooming and rotating is fast and easy

CONs

  • There are some formats it can’t read properly (SVG, for example)
  • It is a bit in the slow side for the first load

Alternatives

  • display (imagemagick). It reads more formats than EoG does, and is a bit faster, but transformations are slow, interaction is painful, and automatic resizing is not possible.

e-mail client

I use KMail. See Wikipedia Comparison of e-mail clients

Alternatives

Terminal

I use Konsole. It has everything I need.

PROs

  • Tabbed
  • Ultra-configurable
  • Bookmarks to open terminals in other machines or given dirs with a single click

CONs

  • Could be faster to load
  • Some bugs at configuring, e.g. transparent background (which I don’t use)

Alternatives

Web browser

I use Firefox. See also Comparison of web browsers at Wikipedia.

PROs

  • All the features I want
  • All features you can think of through addons

CONs

  • Slow startup
  • Sometimes eats up CPU/RAM for no reason

Alternatives

  • Konqueror. The idea of “all-in-one”, web browser, file manager and file viewer for a desktop (KDE) seems infortunate to me. When I use it, most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing, and the interface should be different for browsing and file managing.
  • Epiphany. It’s certainly fast, but lacks features. And its looks are horrible, please.
  • Opera. Nice browser, but it is proprietary, and this sucks.

Photograph collection manager

See also List of image organizers at Wikipedia.

I use digiKam. I have used it and F-Spot, and I like this one better.

Alternatives

Office suite

I use OpenOffice.org. It’s very complete, although slow and heavy. See also Comparison of office suites at Wikipedia.

PROs

  • It’s full of features. It has all I need

CONs

  • Slow on startup
  • A bit bloated
  • I haven’t managed to generate “default” styles (e.g. for spreadsheets)

Alternatives

  • KOffice
    • PROs: you can easily generate default styles for documents
    • CONs: it’s not possible to “select all cells”. It’s not possible to write superscripts or subscripts, and I use them a lot (e.g. CO2).

p2p

I use KTorrent. See also Comparison of BitTorrent clients at Wikipedia.

PROs

  • Nice and intuitive graphical interface
  • Has most features I need/want: limiting up/down rates at will, limiting up/down rates per torrent, display of current rates, ETAs, sizes, etc. per torrent…

CONs

  • Previous versions were a bit buggy. Latest (as of Jan 2008), hasn’t crashed on me yet
  • Uploads are slow when donwloads are going on (for no reason)
  • Statistics are limited
  • Total uploaded/downloaded amount of data is reseted at closing. You can not have “historic” up/down totals

Alternatives

  • aMule. Not BT, but eD2K
  • Azureus. It has a nice GUI, and the features are great, having even historic statistics. However it is extremely heavy on computer resources. It is a pain in the *ss to run, put bluntly.
  • Transmission. Looks good. Haven’t given it a serious try, because KTorrent works so well

Feed reader

I use Liferea. See also List of feed aggregators at Wikipedia.

Alternatives

File manager

I use Thunar, the default FM of Xfce. It is really fast, and gives me all I ask of it.

Alternatives

  • Konqueror
  • Nautilus

Music player

I use Amarok.

Alternatives

  • XMMS

Document readers

I use Evince.

Alternatives

  • KPDF
  • Xpdf
  • Acroread
  • gv

Graphical FTP

I use gFTP.

Alternatives

  • Kbear

Disk usage analyzers

I use Filelight.

Alternatives

  • Baobab

One Response to “Programs I use, and why”

  1. Super Jamie said

    You may wish to look at Filezilla for FTP, and PCManFM for file management. I prefer GQView for image viewing, it’s alot like ACDSee on Windows, though gThumb is the only decent one I’ve found that supports animated GIFs. Deluge-Torrent and Transmission are both nice GTK BitTorrent clients. SwiftFox will give you the functionality of Firefox, with CPU-optimised instructions for speed, however the versions based on FF3 don’t support font smoothing yet. You can install “branch” (ie: Firefox 2) builds from the website and deb repository at getswiftfox.com

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