As I mentioned in this post, I am aiming to use FreeBSD as my desktop OS either at work, at home, or both in the near future. As such I’m seeking out replacements for my current applications and the like. Now, this isn’t necessarily going to end up being FreeBSD specific. It’s more about free/open source replacements for tasks and functions that need to be performed. I just happen to like FreeBSD as a whole more than any Linux distribution (I will leave the OS flamewars for others…)
As it stands, a great deal of the applications I use are already cross-platform and open source. Using those will be quite easy. There is a large table of open source “replacements” out there, but it’s more Linux-centered and impersonal. It tells you what you could use, but not if it’s a viable replacement or even if it will be usable.
I would consider myself quite the “power user” — but with a catch. I am extraordinarily lazy. Surely one could do almost anything with emacs, but I have no desire to learn it when I can click a few buttons in another program and accomplish the same tasks. That’s not so say I wouldn’t learn it, just that for my day-to-day usage I’d rather go the lazy route and point-and-click. Yeah, I’m that lame.
So here’s my personal list of applications that I use, or intend to replace. This list is subject to change at any time, and without reason. I may also stick non-application entries in here such as printers, scanners, hardware, etc. I’ll add more as I get time.
I’ll also put this into a much more readable format as soon as I can whip one up. Read on down to see the table. Something in this layout is causing a huge gap before the table shows up. CSS at its best…
I originally wrote this back in 2005. I’m updating it now in 2012 as things have changed in some areas (all for the better!) – one thing people might consider is using PC-BSD instead of FreeBSD as the base OS. The underlying OS is the same, but the folks at PC-BSD have done a lot to make the end user experience better for a desktop.
|Task/Function||Currently Using||Replace With||Notes|
|Web Browsing||Mozilla Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Internet Explorer||Chromium, Mozilla Firefox, Opera||Then: IE is holding me back for several IE-only sites I need for work, including an ordering system. It’s done in Java, but the geniuses coded the page so only IE loads the Java applet properly. I’ve had success with loading it in Opera, but not Opera on unix yet. Update: Java works great with Opera 9.x, but now the page I needed doesn’t work in Opera on Windows even! Go figure.
Now: Thankfully I no longer have to use that system… Chromium is the way to go now!
|Mozilla Thunderbird||Mozilla Thunderbird, Kmail, Evolution||Then: Thunderbird rocks! I’ve never had a problem with it.
Now: I use KMail to access a separate account and since their latest update it’s a bit of a pain. T-Bird is still the best for me.
|Office Suite||Microsoft Office, Corel Wordperfect Office, Openoffice.org||Openoffice.org, Google Docs||Then: I’ve only encountered minor glitches when loading Microsoft Office files in Open Office. It does a pretty good job. I do need to convert some older pre-office docs (Works, Works spreadsheet) from about 10 years ago inside of MS Office, but that should’ve been done a long time ago.
Now: Google Docs gets the most use by far, OO is still good for offline docs.
|Text Editor / HTML Editor / Programming Editor||UltraEdit||?? Kate, Jed, and ScITE show promise, UEX||Then: Nothing seems to come close to what I want. Good column editing, Open from/Save as to FTP/SFTP, easy macro functionality, etc. Kate is the current leader. With some plugins and KDE’s SFTP/FISH IOSlaves, the main thing missing is really good column-based editing not just rectangular selections.
Now: Kate is definitely the leader over time. Though there is now UEX, a Linux version of UltraEdit that works on FreeBSD as well, when I used the trial version I still found it lacking in a couple areas. Definitely worth revisiting as it really would be worth the money to use it.
|Web Development Environment||Macromedia Dreamweaver||?? Possibly Quanta+, Amaya, Nvu, ByHand 2.0 ;)||Then: For the times I’m feeling lazy and need to churn out a web page/site.
Now: Coming back to this after a couple years, I don’t need anything like it anymore. Doing everything in WordPress, Joomla,
|Instant Messaging||Trillian Pro 3.1||Pidgin||Then: Seems to be the multi-protocol IM program of choice for *nix. I really would like a Rendezvous plugin though. (I understand one is in the works)
Now: Pidgin is good, and it has had a Bonjour/Rendezvous plugin for a while now, and it works great (though has some quirks).
|Graphics Viewer||ACDSee||GQview, Gwenview||Then: This looks to be a good choice for replacing ACDSee, it can look similar and does what I need.
Now: These are both still good choices
|Graphics Editor||Photoshop||Gimp / Gimpshop / Krita||Then: I just need to get the hang of the interface.
Now: Still about the same, though I don’t do much image editing, GIMP is still king here.
|SSH Client / Session Manager||SecureCRT||OpenSSH / PuTTY||Then: Of course the ssh client works fine, what I need is a nice front-end or session manager. I need to do more research on this. I know that some terminal programs like Konsole can save sessions, but how good they are I do not know.
Now: I still haven’t really found a good SSH session manager. There is a port for PuTTY which works OK, but I’d still like to see a decent OpenSSH client session manager.
|CD Burning||Nero / Easy CD/DVD Creator||K3B, command line utils||Then: K3B looks good. I haven’t had a chance to fully test it, but it seems to do most everything that I need.
Now: Aside from some initial setup quirks (devd changes to make sure users can access the CD devices), K3B works wonderfully. Of course the need for burning optical media is much, much less these days…
|Media Player||Winamp||amaroK||Then: I have some issues with how it reads files lacking ID3 data, but I may be able to sort those out.
Now: I don’t do much with Audio on my FreeBSD workstation but when I do listen to music, amaroK is still what I tend to use.
|Programming IDE||Eclipse||Eclipse||Then: Gotta love cross-platform solutions!
Now: Eclipse is still good – though these days I use it for oXygenXML rather than Aptana or other dev work.
|PIM (Calendar, to-dos, contacts, etc) & Sync my Palm Tungsten C||Palm Desktop||Kontact / Kpilot||Then: I still have to sort out how to get everything I want to sync to move both ways, but it gets the job done nicely.
Now: I haven’t had or wanted a palm device in years. Android phone and tablet are fine and everything syncs to Google Apps, no need for dedicated desktop sync anymore.
|HylaFax Viewer||JHylafax, etc||?||Then: I’m searching for a usable HylaFax client. I need to get a Java 1.5x installation going to try a native java client, but that may work as that’s what I use on Windows. Update: Java 1.5 works fine now, using the new Diablo-JDK package, but I don’t have access to the fax server from home where my FreeBSD desktop is now so I haven’t tried it lately.
Now: Really haven’t had a need for this in years either.