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Migrating to Linux? Use These Open Source Apps - page 2

Office Suites and Desktop Utilities

  • July 19, 2007
  • By Matt Hartley

6) Envy

Nothing comes close to the effective, logical proprietary video driver installation provided by a fantastic little utility appropriately called Envy.

Envy is unique, because it is self-contained, fully GUI-friendly with clear, no-excuses assistance for setting up your NIVIDA or ATI proprietary graphics drivers. Most importantly, the application is fully licensed under the GPL.

Why you need it: Even considering the argument that video driver installation is not "that difficult" with today's latest Linux distributions, the fact remains that getting your video card setup afterward to meet your needs remains hit and miss. If you're new to Linux, and considering using a distribution such as Ubuntu or Debian, I cannot recommend Envy enough. The time you save can be better spent working on current projects rather than tracking down broken X-configuration problems.

7) Evince

Working with PDF file formats in Windows means that you'll be subjected to the bloated application known as Adobe Reader. With today's Linux distributions, however, you actually have a number of lightweight solutions that will open any PDF file you happen to throw at it.

The best of the bunch is Evince. It's lightweight and easy to install on most distributions, and you will not see your PC's resources being sucked down to nothing just because you tried to use Evince to read a PDF document.

Why you need it: Due to the availability of Adobe Reader for Linux, you may consider sticking with the more familiar application despite its inherent bloat and usability flaws. After trying Evince for a couple of days, however, I believe wholeheartedly that opening up a PDF document with anything else will seem counter productive by comparison.

8) Automatix

One thing that makes or breaks the usability of a particular Linux distribution is the ease of access for proprietary media codecs, Flash, and DVD playback. Even considering the "fuzziness" behind the legality of using these proprietary goods (U.S. users only) without the go-ahead from their creators, it remains common practice amongst most Linux users to install the codecs regardless. (In the end, it's a personal choice--I am not able to give legal advice on the matter.)

Automatix comes into play by providing the end user with the option of installing proprietary codecs quickly, easily, and all at once.

Why you need it: In addition to proprietary codecs, Automatix includes lesser-known software such as Gyachi, along with various Google apps. Automatix has been designed to work with Debian, Simply Mepis, or Ubuntu.

(Editor's note: I must point out that Automatix requires that changes be made to your application repository list. This means that Automatix is adding software sources to your existing listing of sources. Because some users in the past have expressed concern with this, I wanted to make sure you were aware of it before installing the utility. If there is a concern here, then by all means, use apt-get, YaST, or whatever else you have for installing software packages, if you prefer.)

9) Scribus

Breaking the Publisher dependency can be done with help from the Scribus publishing software. Scribus may not offer many user templates, but it doesn't lock its users down with proprietary file formats, either.

Why you need it: Simply put, Scribus is the best open source publishing software out there today. As a matter of fact, it's even better than many of the closed source alternatives offered on the Windows or OS X environments.

10) GIMP

Simply put, GIMP provides Photoshop functionality in a free software package that is free. Designed to make graphic editing and manipulation as simple as possible, anyone who has used advanced graphic editors will not have any problem becoming familiar with it.

Why you need it: Because it's simple to use, well laid out, and a completely free download, this quick-starting Photoshop alternative became a must have, even with the most basic photo/image manipulation work. Even when considering other open source options out there, nothing holds a candle to the functional power provided by GIMP for the average to professional user alike.

This article originally appeared on Intranet Journal, a JupiterWeb site.

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