Saturday, August 16, 2014

Everyday Work in Linux

Comparing Linux and Windows, there are a lot of things that you may think "I can't do without XXX to get this done", but in reality there aren't that many that are only available in one OS and not tthe other. While the advertising money may be with Windows programs - because the money is available from what you spend on them - what that means is that you see the advert and think about what you can do. You can very often find just as good a product in the Linux world. One word of warning - this blog post is going to be heavily laden with links!!

Just to start off, and to placate those haters of Linux, I have to say that Apple has not ported iTunes to Linux. In my experience there is a way of doing it, but it's the "normal" cheat - run a copy of Windows in VirtualBox. As I say, it's a cheat, but I don't really mind because I recognise that I need some programs that just don't exist for Linux.

  • For one example, I work with Microsoft SQL Server, and there's just no way that that program is ever going to leave the Windows platform. 
  • For another example, while I use Thunderbird for my daily email needs, I store all my email in a program called TheBat!. This is a great program and I've been keeping my email in it since the mid 1990s. There's absolutely no way that I could convert! However, it runs only in Windows.

So yes, I also use Windows. And a Chromebook, and Linux, and a Mac at times. I've also used George (ICL), OS/360, OS/370, OS/400 (IBM), rt-11, RSX-11, VMS (DEC), PrimeOS, RT-42 (Siemens), SinTran3 (Norsk Data) CP/M, UNIX, PC-DOS, MS-DOS, and a few computers without any operating systems at all! All in all, they're just a whole load of software designed to do what you need to have done, and a fairly simplistic interface on the front (GUI, text, or toggle) to let you tell it what you want. Pick what suits you. I chose the IBM PC and DOS back in 1980 because I needed a machine with a Fortran compiler, and the Apple, although cheaper, didn't have one.

Anyway, here are a few of the programs I use - daily or from time to time - as examples of how one lives just as well in LinuxLand as in WindowsWorld or the AppleArea.

I suppose that everyone knows (or knows about) Adobe's Photoshop. It's taken on a life of its own, really, becoming an ever more expensive package. Photoshop CS6 from May 2012 is still available on Amazon at the time or writing, but you'll have to pay around $1,700 for it!

Photoshop CC, the subscription version, is available (in the US only) for $30 per month - $360 per year. This is much cheaper than upgrading was, as new versions of the CS package appeared about every 18 months.

The Windows alternative is probably Corel PhotoPaint, which has many of the tools that Photoshop has and which comes bundled with Corel Draw!. Also available for a subscription($200 per year), or about $500 for outright purchase, and you get a number of other useful add-on programs.

On Linux the major player is, of course, the Graphical Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). Again, with many of the features of PhotoShop, GIMP is a free product, which can be downloaded for any Linux machine. It's also available for Windows, and there's a comparison of it and Photoshop here. Also Google "gimp vs photoshop" and you'll find more comparison articles.

MyPaint has turned out to be a very easy tool to use with my Wacom Bamboo tablet. It isn't, I think as well-equipped as Painter, but certainly is a very good tool.

For Windows Visio leads, by virtue of Microsoft's overwhelming sales efforts, and also because of its links to SQL Server for database design, which are, quite simply, unmatched elsewhere.

It used to be that a program called Visual Thought was an excellent match for most of what Visio offered, but unfortunately CERN (who appear to have taken over the licence from Confluent) seem to have dropped it almost entirely, so all you get is a few unhelpful pages that you can just about reas (if you read quickly!) before you get redirected

For a very good program for creating diagrams and flows (albeit without database integration) take a look at Dia. It does have some quirks and its own ways of doing a few things, but they're certainly learnable and it's available on Linux and Windows!

Cheese! is the thing!

Ripping CDs
RipperX is a great program. You can get mp3 files from it, or just straight WAV tracks.

Making DVDs
Use K3b. This program will burn media or filesystem CD, DVD, and BluRay discs.

Video Chat 
You can get Skype for Linux, and you can use Google Chat. They both work fine.

So don't ever look down on another operating system - it may well be that the programs there are better for their users than in your part of the world.



CeltChick said...

Michael, thank you for your comment on "Unsettling, to say the least". I am donning my armor and collecting my minions (aka the various physicians needed)to make my stand against the Big C. If you've a favored Diety, a word with that entity on my behalf would be appreciated!

Michael Irwin said...

I've no idea whether I'm favoured or not, but Words shall be sent! Be better - soon!!!