Monday, 31 May 2010

The joy of Linux

Everybody wants something for free. But as we all know, there is no such thing as a free lunch? Is there? Well the open-source software community may well provide you with a feast of resources to feed your digital appetite. And at the core of any electronic device, whether it is a mobile phone or a laptop, is an operating system. Software which organises all the other software.

After having dabbled with Puppy and Xandros Linux I could see the appeal. But Puppy was too rough round the edges for a single OS and Xandros was fine except for some blue-tooth issues. However, upon adding up some costs for a new build PC, a genuine copy of Windows 7 was a large outlay and once again the draw of Linux came about. I had played with Mac's on many occasions, and whilst I am aware that some people swear by them, I could never get along with them. So I played around with Ubuntu (by far the most popular Linux distribution) version 9.04 and then 9.10 and loved them. It was crisp and clean and a radical departure from the rigid Windows world. So I made the radical decision to run Ubuntu as my sole OS on my new Desktop with only open source software to support it. After doing this for over six months now I have come to the following conclusion. Why would anyone pay for software? There is an amazing amount of open-source software out there including a truly usable non-windows/mac OS in Ubuntu.

Here is a list of my favourite open source software so far...

QCAD - In many ways better than AutoCAD - I just wish it was compatible with ALL of the new file formats rather than just some of them. The community edition is free, but you need to think around the installation a bit if you are a long-time windows user.
Quantum GIS - I haven't found anything I can't do compared with ArcGIS. Georeference, create interpolated rasters, use ESRI vectors, etc. Top bit of free software and a good (legal) way to save yourself something like £3000.00
Open Office - Take a bit of getting used to after years of Microsoft Office, especially with spreadsheets - but again, all of the functionality is there.
KolourPaint - Like Microsoft paint, with a few handy additions.
Klavaro - I'm learing to touch-type (only two degrees later).
Audacity - Fully fledged audio editor for anyone up to very-keen amateur.
Kdenlive and Kino - Video editing. They both have their faults, but i've been able to produce some pretty decent videos.

Stuff I was surprised that would work...

Skype - A Lunux specfic version is available
Google Earth - Again, a linux version exists.
Spotify - Runs well under WINE.

My computer spec

Pentium 4 2.8Ghz Dual-core 2MB cache
500GB Hard disk
Ubuntu 9.10 64-bit (Purchased from

What I'm listening to

Ben Folds (Feat. Regina Spektor) - You don't know me
Gnarles Barkley - Smiley Faces
Johnny Cash - Hurt
Nena - 99 Luftballons. (German Version)
Plastiscines - Barcelona
White Lies - Farewell to the fairground

Monday, 24 May 2010



Belle and Sebastian - There's too much love
Fleetwood Mac - The Chain
Gramophonedzie - Why Don't You?
Stornoway - Zorbing