Living with Ubuntu – Part 2

This is a follow up to the previous post which covered my initial reactions to Ubuntu. This time I will look at the additional software I installed.

One of the great things about Linux is the wide range of software available. It is often said Linux is about choice and one of the choices to be made is what software to use. Most of this software is FOSS (free and open source), indeed there is few reasons to consider non-FOSS solutions.

After installing Ubuntu I found there were some further programs I needed. Either they were specialised applications or I prefer some of the alternatives available.

Organisation of my photo collection is an important task for me. While I looked at other programs I have been using digiKam for some time and version 0.9 adds some great features such as the ability to edit metadata. Many of my photos are scanned from film and slides so I have wanted to add the appropriate metadata as part of my scanning process. Now I can. It also has a facility to add a geotag using Google maps. I do have some problems with transferring files from a digital camera. I can’t access the preference tab on the camera interface so I need to rename after transfer but that is such a small inconvenience I haven’t looked for a solution yet. The tagging and organisation functions suit me.

On an associated subject, scanning film and slides is an important job and I find Vuescan the best solution. It is the exception here as it is a commercial product but I have yet to find an open source program that produces scans of the same quality. When it comes to image quality that is the only real criteria.

Burning cds and dvds is an important form of backup and so k3b is a must. I can’t think of anything else to say about it. It compares well with software available at high prices on other operating systems. I’ve always preferred specialised programs rather than file manager based actions. It just works.

Music players are not an important matter for me. I have used Amarok and it would probably be my choice. However an unsolved problem with my usb audio card means only Rhythmnbox currently works. It didn’t default to search for new tracks and I had to add them manually until I found it in the preferences.

I have previously used iPodder to download podcasts. Rhythmnbox can do that too but it a less sophisticated option. It doesn’t include links to podcast directories for one thing. iPodder sorts the downloaded files better too.

I use Nautilus and find it an adequate file manager for simple jobs but I have always preferred Konquerer. However my file manager of choice is Krusader. A powerful classic style tool, I find its two pane interface the easiest to use. Especially the directory compare and similar features.

Thunderbird has been my email program of choice almost since it appeared. I just install it and copy the profiles and data over and it works. A simple tool that does well what it is designed for.

The other programs I use nearly every day are standard in most Linux distros, Firefox, the Gimp and OpenOffice. So really they fall outside the scope of this post.

One thing that stands out is that I generally prefer KDE programs to the Gnome alternatives. This is not a deliberate preference just the result of trying various alternatives and settling on the ones I find myself using. I have both desktops installed on this computer and switch between them as the mood takes me. I have edited the menus on both to include the applications I use all the time and I have removed the ones I never use. I find the programs are more important than the desktop so really it doesn’t matter which one I am running.


Author: Jim

A sixty something living in the Hawkesbury Valley on the edge of Sydney Australia.

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