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  • mcphersonz 10:10 am on March 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Favorite applications for OS X, Ubuntu and Windows 

    Below is a list of my favorite applications for either OS X, Ubuntu linux, or Windows.

    When I moved from windows to Ubuntu I kept looking for software that did what my favorite windows applications did. Similarly when I moved to OS X from Ubuntu I looked for more software that met my needs in Ubuntu or Windows. Although there are generally less options for OS X software, what is out there (or built into the OS) seems to work just as well or better than what I have been used to in my former favorite operating systems.

    Here’s a list that I put together based on software that I use & applications that I would recommend for the three operating system types that I have had daily experience with.

    Functionality OS X Ubuntu Windows
    Audio Backup (create MP3) iTunes Audio CD Extractor FreeRip, iTunes
    Calendar iCal Thunderbird, Evolution Outlook
    Data Backup Time Machine Time Vault DataKeeper, Norton Ghost
    Database Development MySQL Administrator, SQLDeveloper MySQL Administrator, SQLDeveloper MySQL Administrator, SQLDeveloper
    Drive Manager / Partition Disk gparted Partition Magic
    Drive Usage Mapper Disk Inventory Disk Usage Analyzer Drive Doppler
    DVD Movie Backup JackTheRipper k9copy DVDShrink, RipIt4Me
    DVD Player DVD Totem PowerDVD
    Email, Entourage Thunderbird, Evolution Outlook, Eudora
    FTP Client Transmit gFTP FlashFXP, CuteFTP, WS_FTP, Filezilla
    FTP Server built in FTP server built in FTP server GuildFTP, Serv-U
    Graphic Manipulation Gimp, Photoshop Gimp Gimp, Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro
    Instant Messaging Adium, iChat Pidgin, Gaim Trillian
    Media Player VLC, QuickTime VLC, Totem VLC, MediaPlayerClassic
    Music Player iTunes Totem, Rhythmbox WinAmp, iTunes
    Office Suites Open Office, Microsoft Office Open Office Open Office, Microsoft Office
    PDF Viewer Preview, Acrobat Acrobat Acrobat
    Peer to Peer / Fileshare Azureus/VUSE, Acquisition, BitTorrent Azureus/VUSE, Transmission Azureus/VUSE, Shareaza, LimeWire
    Photo Album iPhoto F-spot ACDSee
    Programmer Text Editor TextMate, TextEdit Kate, Komodo, Gedit UltraEdit, EditPad, Notepad
    Remote Control VNC, Screen, CoRD VNC, Remote Desktop Viewer VNC, Remote Desktop
    Terminal Client gnome-terminal Putty
    Video Editing iMovie avidemux VirtualDub
    Virtualization VMware Fusion, VirtualBox VMware Workstation, VirtualBox VMware Workstation, VirtualBox
    Web Browser Firefox, Safari Firefox Firefox, IE
  • mcphersonz 9:52 am on March 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    Finally made the switch to the other side… (AKA: a former windows user that moved to Mac OS X) 

    It’s official. Apple’s Mac OS X is my favorite operating system.

    Here’s the story if you are at all interested:

    My first computer was a Apple IIe (that was before windows existed, of course). I then had a Mac SE (released around the time Microsoft windows was released). My parents then bought me a killer computer – it was a 100 mhz 486 that ran Windows 3.1.

    I used windows for another 15 years. Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98se, Windows NT 4, Windows 2000, Windows XP…… Wow. Been there, done that. It was cool for a while because I didn’t know a lot. I kept learning & kept using windows.

    Over and over again I had to deal with the same old Windows crap. Bad performance. Bad UI. Bad experiences in general…

    So I looked for alternative solutions. I was anti-mac for a long time. I had hard feeling about mac because of the lack of software at the time, the proprietary hardware, the lack of auxiliary hardware, the high prices…. well almost all of that has changed (basically everything but the high prices).

    I made a dedicated switched to Ubuntu a few years ago – meaning that I ran it as my primary OS & basically only ran windows when I had to & would do so via a virtual machine anytime I could. Ubuntu Linux is a beautiful operating system & idea in general. It has huge potential & has had a huge impact in the overall acceptance of Linux based operating systems.

    I can’t say this enough. I love Linux. I also love OS X…

    About six months my employer bought me a MacBook Pro. My goodness, I have not looked back.

    Not only is it basically built on Linux, OS X has an amazing GUI and unparalleled stability. That’s what sold me. The GUI is more intuitive & less obtrusive then any windows or Linux solution I have ever encountered.

    Compatibility is also amazing. Many Linux apps run under OS X, and if I ever need to I can run windows & ubuntu with great performance via virtual machines.

    Stability is better than windows or ubuntu with my experience & my usage patterns. Adding and removing software, tweaking settings, applying system updates, etc all seem to not affect my system’s stability. Rarely do I have to restart my system or end applications.

    Toss windows. Embrace Linux. Use OS X.

    • Jim Schimpf 6:33 pm on March 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Congratulations, you made a very good move. The time you spent with Ubuntu and switching when necessary to Windows is just what you need with OS X. There will always be something that you need that won’t be available in OS X. Unlike others you won’t just quit OS X, but just boot up Windows and “get’er done”. There is a huge lack of choice in OS X which I actually like, I just use it and don’t spend time tweeking it.

      Also your now developed Linux reflexes will most often be right in OS X. And now I put on my “Well actually hat”. The great similarity of OS X and Linux is because they have the same UNIX heritage. OS X came out of the BSD tradition so will be different in philosophy in some things than Linux. They are the same more than different and I am more confused by Windows these days.

    • Daithí 2:46 pm on May 12, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I’m kinda in the same situation, allow me to explain…
      Being a Linux (ubuntu and debian) user for years, and being Linux my favourite OS so far, there are things that, unfortunatlly, make the Linux OS still not desktop ready. My laptop, a 2 year old Sony Vaio, works way better in Linux than with Vista (it runs faster, more stable, the battery lasts longer, all hardware is supported out-of-the-box, etc). But, Ekiga doesn’t work as good as VoipBuster (audio quality and stability), Skype is years back when compared to the windows version, hardware support is very very good, but not as good as it should be, PluseAudio is still not ready for it, and I have an iPod Touch 2nd that makes me sometimes boot Vista to sync and update. So, for a guy like me that loves the Gnome interface, the *nix chassi, and every other positive aspect about the linux world, I’m guessing that the way to go is Mac, because I do not want to go back to Windows and I want something that is similar to Linux but without its weak points..


      I have no mac experience (I’ve tried it 10 mins and found it hard – yes, I’m really saying that), I don’t want an OS that will treat me like a newbie hiding the tech stuff and showing me only happy and undetailed warnings, I want to continue to use free software alternatives (in windows there is a lot of good freeware that does a better job than some comercial apps), and I want an SO that doesn’t keep doing things in the background (windows again).

      Is the mac really the best choice for me!? I don’t wanto to be stuck with a cute laptop with the base OS because I woun’t have money to buy expensive software to do what I always did for free….

      • Anonymous 3:47 am on May 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply

        Daithí, I know it can be a bit painful to make the transition, but it is well worth it!

        I feel compelled to give you a nice lengthly response because this is something I feel compassionate about. I am a recent convert after over a decade of windows use spackled with linux experience & after about a year of OSX usage as my main personal & business OS of choice I am convinced this is the best OS for my needs at this current point in time.

        I agree that most linux operating systems out there still have a way to go for them to compete with Mac OSX or god forbid windows for most of us….. I do not want to go into the specifics because that is not the point of this post but I will say that when I went from windows to linux I was happy, but when I went from linux to OS X I was happier. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love linux and everything it stand for but for day to day use I find OS X more pleasant, intuitive and … reliable given my day to day usage & usage patterns.

        I _hated_ apple and mac for over 10 years. Then eventually I noticed that a lot of people in my community (ruby developers, graphic designers, …. casual users) started using it — a lot.

        The UI does take some getting used to but with time I felt that it was superior to other UIs I have worked with.

        I had to get used to using the apple/command key (Alt) instead of the control key for most commands….. CTRL+A, CTRL+C, CTRL+N, etc. Took a while, but I feel comfortable with it now.

        I only have a mac laptop — a macbookpro — so I had to get used to no more page up/down, del/insert, home/end buttons. That was a drag, but I learned equivalent keyboard shortcuts. That sucked, but I feel comfortable with it now.

        OSX hides stuff because that is what a good OS should do: be as unobstrusive as possible. The operating system should be transparent — you should not have to see or deal with it unless you need to. I think that is what OS X does & it feels right once you get used to it. Now when I switch over to my ubuntu (or umm…. winblows) system at home I feel like the OS is always announcing itself….

        That said, OS X has a lot of linux behavior in it — file structure, command prompt, services, etc. It has a ton of stuff that can be configured under the hood just like any other linux OS. It is extremely powerful & very customizable.

        As far as free software there is a ton of free software out there. Many people over the last few years have released some killer free OS X software. Most of what I use is free (or even better build in to the OS). I did buy a copy of TextMate (the best text editer out there), Office (for Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc), and VMware (for virtualization). I think you have to but most of that stuff in windows — for linux there are always free alternatives. On the flip side, the way I look at it is that by buying software you are supporting developers — the very people that make that software possible. If it where not for developers, none of this stuff would be around. It’s quality software as well. None of this MS crap…..

        I can’t speak for you but the mac was the best choice for me. I got it for free from my employer, and I would buy one for myself if I did not have one already. The next desktop I buy may just be a mac. Oh, and as a added bonus yes, my laptop looks slick compared to the other bulky, boxy, thick & plastic laptops that I see out there. That’s insult to injury right there!


    • Daithí 3:40 am on May 14, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Anonymous, thanks for the reply, really apreciate 🙂
      Well, you are answering to all my questions with your post… About the free software, don’t get me wrong, I want to support good work from developers, I meant to say that I am not like some people that, for example, do some casual word processing and for that are going to get the latest MS Office version (ilegal) for their 4 year old computer, when they could use OpenOffice for that! If there is free software that doesn what I want I’ll stick with it, otherwise, I’ll search for paid alternatives.

      About the OS announcing itself, well, that is relative… With Vista it announces itself everytime it is idle (my poor poor hard drive), Linux announces itself by not making your life very easy (but in a positive and good way!) and making you go deep in the OS and expand your knowledge. I’m afraid to start do get lazy with OSX :p

      “when I went from windows to linux I was happy, but when I went from linux to OS X I was happier” – This my friend, this says it all! Although I do not have a rich mac experience, I guess that this will be happening to me. Having a fully supported comercial *nix OS without the things that, unfortunatelly, are still wrong with linux will make me the most happy guy on the planet!


  • mcphersonz 3:01 am on August 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    autotest+mumbles for Growl like notifications 

    I was working with a colleague today who was kind enough to introduce me to autotest for continuous test integration. Change a file in your app & tests are automatically run for you… Nice.

    my mumble alert

    screenshot of my mumble alert (top-right)

    One thing that really stood out aesthetically was how status messages were passed to Growl (in OSX) for eye-pleasing popup notifications outside of a terminal window.

    Being a ubuntu user, I started looking for a similar solution for linux. It turns out there is a great utility for linux that resembles Growl — it’s called Mumbles. The challenge was getting Mumbles to work with autotest.

    After searching google, I found one post that got me started. This is a good post, but I had to fill in a few blanks to get everything to work.

    Here’s what I did:

    1. Install ZenTest:
    • sudo gem install ZenTest
    1. Install Mumbles
      • grab the latest .deb file or source from the mumbles-project page:
      • wget
      • test out mumbles by running:
      • mumbles &
      • mumbles-send ‘a title’ ‘it works!!’
      • assuming mumbles has been installed correctly, you should see a little notification pop up. I recommend that at this point you add mumbles to your system session so it will start when you login to ubuntu.
      • gnome-session-properties
      • add -> “mumbles” for name & command -> ok
    2. Install ruby-dbus. I could not find a gem, so install manually:
      • irb
      • irb(main):001:0> require ‘dbus’
      • => true
    3. Create a .autotest file in your application root directory (or your home directory to make the settings global) Thanks to CaffinatedCode for this script — they wrote it:
    • require ‘dbus’def send_message(title, message, icon)
      bus = DBus::SessionBus.instance
      mumbles_service = bus.service(“org.mumblesproject.Mumbles”)
      mumbles = mumbles_service.object(“/org/mumblesproject/Mumbles”)
      mumbles_iface = mumbles[“org.mumblesproject.Mumbles”]
      sig = mumbles_iface.signals[“Notify”]
      bus.emit(mumbles_service, mumbles, mumbles_iface, sig, title, message, icon)
      rescue Exception => e

      Autotest.add_hook :ran_command do |at|
      output = at.results.last.slice(/(\d+) examples?, (\d+) failures?(, \d+ pending)?/)
      if output =~ /.*[1-9] failure.*/ then
      send_message(“FAIL”, “#{output}”, “fail.png”)
      send_message(“PASS”, “#{output}”, “pass.png”)
      rescue Exception => e

    Now for the fun part. From within your app root, type:


    If everything works out, you should see a few things flash by – I get a error about “Insecure world writable dir” in my home dir. I just ignored that. After that, you should see a test summary in the terminal window, followed by a mumbles popup notificaton. Kick ass!

    • joban 10:27 am on December 31, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      cool topic .. really helpful !!

    • khellls 11:09 pm on January 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      where did u put the icons? cause for me i couldn’t c the icons

    • Shannon McPherson 12:17 am on January 11, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I think I put the images in the same location as I put the script from step 3 — so either in your application root directory or your home directory. I can’t confirm though, because I traded in my t60 with ubuntu for a nice macbookpro — have not looked back since!

      (still running ubuntu on my home machine — but I never configured mumbles on that one)

    • angel 12:22 pm on May 4, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      hi…I get this error when I try send a mumble message…

      mumbles-send ‘a title’ ‘it works!!’
      mumbles-send ‘a title’ ‘it workssudo cp /etc/fonts/conf.avail/10-antialias.conf /etc/fonts/conf.d/’
      Traceback (most recent call last):
      File “/usr/local/bin/mumbles-send”, line 28, in
      from MumblesGlobals import *
      ImportError: No module named MumblesGlobals

      I’m using ubuntu…please if you know how solve it I would be very happy..:D…

  • mcphersonz 4:50 am on August 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    My Computer Setup 

    I was in a cleaning mood today & eventually got to my desk where my PC is at. I think cleaning was waypast due… anyway – it was a photo oppurtunity. Here’s my current setup:

    Laptop Specs: IBM T61, Pentium Dual Core Centrino Duo @ 1.83GHz, 1.5gb ram, 50gb hard drive, docking station, Ubuntu Hardy Heron v8.04
    Desktop Specs: MSI P35D3 motherboard, Pentium Core 2 Duo @2.66GHz, 3.2gb DDR3-1066 ram, 2x 500gb and 1x 100gb internal hard drives, GeForce 8800 GTS video card with 512mb memory, Ubuntu Hardy Heron v8.04

    Desktop setup

    Desktop setup

    Desktop setup

    Books that made it to my desk...

    Books that made it to my desk... What's that under my right monitor? Is that a PHP book? hahaha

    Top: APC Back-UPS RS 1500, 6 external hard drives (a little over 3 terabytes of storage space), PC painted by my friend Nick, and Laptop.
    Left: 22″ Element Flat TV attached to my desktop via HDMI
    Right: 22″ Samsung SnycMaster 226bw monitor attached to my laptop via docked vga.

  • mcphersonz 6:24 pm on July 26, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    What’s Poignant? Chunky Bacon! 

    Chunky BaconI feel like I have been in a cave for the last 6 months… Well, I sorta have. I’ve been working on a rails project for for the last 6 months — a type of social network that joins wall street with MDs opted into market research. What a great learning experience & opportunity. It’ll be great one day…

    Anyway, I just discovered the “Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby” today when I was looking at local ruby groups on – I noticed a chunky bacon comic & remembered a co-worker’s printout of one of these. “What is this?” I asked myself. 1 min on google & there I was…. reading over ruby goodness & chuckling over “Chunky Bacon” comics…. They grow on you – trust me.

    I could only get to chapter 4 today (F.Y.I. A.D.D.4-I) — but it was a nice fresh take on ruby & programming in general. Rather basic & elementary so far, but recommended nonetheless.I never thought of an array as a caterpillar…

    Check it out if you have not already!

  • mcphersonz 12:17 pm on July 8, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Conky – a great system monitoring tool 

    I installed conky recently and was impressed by what I got — a efficent, extremely customizable, lightweigt system monitoring applet. It sits on your desktop & displays various aspects of your OS, hardware, etc

    I installed using

    apt-get install conky

    Then had to add the app to my startup — in ubuntu hardy (8.10) I did:

    Ubuntu menu -> System -> Preferences -> Sessions -> Add -> name & command = ‘conky’ -> OK -> close (or type “gnome-session-properties” at a command prompt)

    At that point, conky should start when you login. Next, you need to configure it. There are lots of sites out there — and DO NOT forget the man entry

    man conky

    I played around with my conky.conf file a git – here’s what I came up with:

    Here’s my conky.conf file: (default location /etc/conky/conky.conf)

    alignment bottom_right
    double_buffer yes
    background yes
    border_width 0
    cpu_avg_samples 2
    default_color white
    default_outline_color white
    default_shade_color white
    draw_borders no
    draw_graph_borders yes
    draw_outline no
    draw_shades no
    font 6×10
    gap_x 5
    gap_y 60
    minimum_size 300 5
    net_avg_samples 2
    no_buffers yes
    out_to_console no
    own_window yes
    own_window_class Conky
    own_window_type normal
    own_window_transparent yes
    own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager
    stippled_borders 0
    update_interval 2.0
    uppercase no
    use_spacer none

    ${color #329966}Right now it be ${color #669932}$time$color ${color #329966}and i’m listenin to $color
    ${color #329966}spinnin $color ${color #669932}${font Bitstream Vera Sans:size=8}${exec rhythmbox-client –no-start –print-playing-format %at}$color, ${color #329966}$color ${color #669932}${font Bitstream Vera Sans:size=9}${exec rhythmbox-client –no-start –print-playing-format %tt}$color ${color #329966}by$color ${color #669932}${exec rhythmbox-client –no-start –print-playing-format %aa}$color
    ${color #329966}and I have been up for$color ${color #329966}$uptime$color ${color #329966}incase you were wondering….$color
    ${color grey}Frequency (in GHz):$color $freq_g
    ${color #99ff66}Processes: $processes Running: $running_processes ${cpu}% – ${cpubar 4}$color
    ${color #ffffcc}RAM Usage:$color $mem/$memmax – $memperc% ${membar 4}
    ${color grey}Swap Usage:$color $swap/$swapmax – $swapperc% ${swapbar 4}
    ${color #9f9fed}Wired address: ${addr eth0} Wireless address: ${addr wlan0}
    ${color #9f9fed}Net Down: ${downspeed eth0} k/s Net Up: ${upspeed eth0} k/s$color
    ${color #9f9fed}Wireless:${wireless_essid net} Signal Strength: ${wireless_link_qual net} ${wireless_link_bar 4}$color
    ${color grey}File systems:
    / $color${fs_free /}/${fs_size /} ${fs_bar 6 /}
    ${color grey}Name PID CPU% MEM%
    ${color #87a8a8}${top name 1} ${top pid 1} ${top cpu 1} ${top mem 1}
    ${color #87a8a8}${top name 2} ${top pid 2} ${top cpu 2} ${top mem 2}
    ${color #87a8a8}${top name 3} ${top pid 3} ${top cpu 3} ${top mem 3}
    ${color #87a8a8}${top name 4} ${top pid 4} ${top cpu 4} ${top mem 4}
    ${color #87a8a8}${top name 5} ${top pid 5} ${top cpu 5} ${top mem 5}
    ${color grey}Mem usage
    ${color #87a8a8}${top_mem name 1}${top_mem pid 1} ${top_mem cpu 1} ${top_mem mem 1}
    ${color #87a8a8}${top_mem name 2}${top_mem pid 2} ${top_mem cpu 2} ${top_mem mem 2}
    ${color #87a8a8}${top_mem name 3}${top_mem pid 3} ${top_mem cpu 3} ${top_mem mem 3}
    ${color #87a8a8}${top_mem name 4}${top_mem pid 4} ${top_mem cpu 4} ${top_mem mem 4}
    ${color #87a8a8}${top_mem name 5}${top_mem pid 5} ${top_mem cpu 5} ${top_mem mem 5}
    ${color grey}Outbound Connection (${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 count}) ${alignr} Remote Service/Port${color #87a8a8}
    ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rhost 0} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rservice 0}
    ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rhost 1} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rservice 1}
    ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rhost 2} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rservice 2}
    ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rhost 3} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rservice 3}
    ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rhost 4} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rservice 4}
    ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rhost 5} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 32768 61000 rservice 5}
    ${color grey}Inbound Connection (${tcp_portmon 1 32767 count}) ${alignr} Local Service/Port${color #87a8a8}
    ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 rhost 0} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 lservice 0}
    ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 rhost 1} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 lservice 1}
    ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 rhost 2} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 lservice 2}
    ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 rhost 3} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 lservice 3}
    ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 rhost 4} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 lservice 4}
    ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 rhost 5} ${alignr} ${tcp_portmon 1 32767 lservice 5}

  • mcphersonz 9:51 am on June 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    RailsConf 2008 was killer! 

    I just got home from my trip to the RailsConf 2008 trip — it was the shit!

    No time to say much now, other than it was great & I hope you made it there…

    What a great conference.

    So many things from this event will change my approach to programming — I wish I had enough energy to post more details at this time, but I am exhausted. Look for a post in the near future about what I have learned — there’s a lot to share.

    For now, check out info on the RailsConf website.

    • mcphersonz 10:11 am on June 2, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      I was there — not bad.

      This was my first official “rails” conference.

      Overall, after driving about 23 hours round trip and spending about $2000, this was worth it! There were a lot of events that I went to that where umm… not what I expected… but there were also a few “gems” that made the whole thing worth while. Some good talks about security, refactoring, testing, etc.

      I am looking forward to using Heroku, GIThum, and… more testing!!!

      I have been flying at the seams of my pants for the last 2 years — it’s all about testing now!

      (my key takeaways)

  • mcphersonz 8:36 am on May 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    20 killer apps for ubuntu linux. 

    Ubuntu Linux — you have to love it. After using windows since windows 95 (over 10 years), and trying various flavors of Linux, Ubuntu was the one that brought me back from the dark side.  It’s all about open source, no EULAs, and freedom — “Free as in Freedom“.

    As you probably know, a operating system is only as good as the application that it can run. Lack of options is definitely not a problem with Ubuntu (or most flavors of Linux for that matter). The problem you are faced with is what to use — looking at my Ubuntu software repositories, I see over 24,000 packages. That’s a lot to choose from.

    I am always searching for better applications to get the job done.

    One of my recent searches on ubuntu forums revealed a great thread called “Cool applications you use that others might not know of“. I literally spent a few days reading the thread — it was at 98 pages and included almost 1000 posts at the time I read it. Great stuff — but was time consuming to wade through.

    Here’s a list of applications that I found & would recommend:

    1. avidemux
      Avidemux is a free video editor designed for simple cutting, filtering and encoding tasks. It supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. Tasks can be automated using projects, job queue and powerful scripting capabilities.
    2. mpgtx
      splits, joins, and get info from mpg files (eg. mp3) without reencoding.
    3. geany
      Geany is a small and lightweight integrated development environment. It was developed to provide a small and fast IDE. This sucker is fast….
    4. komodo edit (not in repositories)
      “Komodo Edit is a free, open source editor from dynamic language experts. It’s absolutely fantastic to work with. It does everything a good editor should do, but it also adds a bunch of other little awesome things.”
    5. terminator
      Terminator is a little project to produce an efficient way of filling a large area of screen space with terminals.
    6. meld
      Meld is a tool which allows the user to see the changes in, and merge between, either two files, two directories, or two files with a common ancestor. Basically, a very good graphical diff utility.
    7. virtualbox
      a free x86 virtualization solution allowing a wide range of x86 operating systems such as Windows, DOS, BSD or Linux to run on a Linux system. In other words, it allows you to emulate a OS from within linux . I used to use VMware — but no longer. Virtualbox has some cool features, and is way faster.
    8. Xaos
      Very cool……
      Play around with fractils — zoom into them, zoom out, etc.  Check out the “autopilot” feature, sit back, and let your mind be blown!
    9. Hydrogen
      This application can be used to create drum and other percussion patterns. It’s very easy to use (I figured it out instantly, with 0 experience in the field), and can be fun for those who have never played an instrument or done any work with sound.
    10. Stellarium is planetarium software that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the stars. It’s easy to use, and free.
    11. Ex Falso
      This is an ID3 tag editor that let’s you generator the tags on the fly. Do clusters, directories, albums, by filename, etc. It also allows you to set your preferred tagging method and file renaming. So if you get a bunch of new music off of a CD you just put on your drive, and want to tag and move them easily, Ex Falso will move and rename the files tagging them for you. It takes a bit to really see the power the application has… but it’s well worth the curve if you have a decent size music directory.
    12. DVDisaster
      It will salvage all readable data off a scratched or corrupted dvd/cd and make an iso file so you can put the salvaged data on a good dvd. Also if you use it on a dvd/cd that isn’t scratched, it will make a small reference file for that dvd so that if it gets scratched in the future, it can read the readable material, and fix the rest with the reference.
    13. vym (view your mind)
      VYM (View Your Mind) is a tool to generate and manipulate maps which show your thoughts. Such maps can help you to improve your creativity and effectivity. You can use them for time management, to organize tasks, to get an overview over complex contexts, to sort your ideas etc. Maps can be drawn by hand on paper or a flip chart and help to structure your thoughs. While a tree like structure like shown on this page can be drawn by hand or any drawing software vym offers much more features to work with such maps.
    14. grip
      Grip is a cd-player and cd-ripper for the Gnome desktop. It has the ripping capabilities of cdparanoia builtin, but can also use external rippers (such as cdda2wav). It also provides an automated frontend for MP3 (and other audio format) encoders, letting you take a disc and transform it easily straight into MP3s. Internet disc lookups are supported for retrieving track information from disc database servers.Grip works with DigitalDJ to provide a unified “computerized” version of your music collection.
    15. pyrenamer
      You can rename files using patterns, search and replace, substitutions, insert or delete text, or even rename files manually. You can also rename images using their EXIF tags and music using their internal tags.
    16. keyjnote
      KeyJnote is a program that displays presentation slides using OpenGL. Smooth alpha-blended slide transitions are provided for the sake of eye candy, but in addition to this, KeyJnote offers some unique tools that are really useful for presentations. Some of them are:
    17. iftop
      command line utility –  iftop does for network usage what top(1) does for CPU usage. It listens to network traffic on a named interface and displays a table of current bandwidth usage by pairs of hosts. Handy for answering the question “Why is my Internet link so slow?”.
    18. avant-window-navigator (avant window navigator)
      The avant-window-navigator is a MacOS X like panel for the GNOME Desktop written in C. Besides launchers that can be dragged onto the bar, it features a task bar that behaves similar to the MacOS X dock. The window navigator uses the composite extension for transparency and other effects.
    19. agave
      Agave is a very simple application for the GNOME desktop that allows you to generate a variety of colorschemes from a single starting color.
    20. gftp
      A multithreaded FTP client. It’s decent — but I wish I had something better.  In windows, I used filezilla and flashfxp — both had features that gftp simply lacks as a ftp client. Its a start though.
      [EDIT: I installed filezilla about 6 months ago & was very unhappy with it — not stable & seemed sluggish…. ]
      [EDIT: OK — this is not a killer app, but 20 is a nice rounded number. Any suggestions for a killer app #20?]

    The beauty of these apps is that they are (almost) all listed as packages in the standard Ubuntu repositories. Oh yeah, and they are all free. So, you should be able to install them by simply launching synaptic package manager, searching for the app name, and checking the install option.

    If you are a command-line kinda person, then you can install the app by issuing the following command:

    sudo apt-get install [app_name] —

    for example:
    sudo apt-get install xaos

    Have fun!

    • Randy 3:33 pm on May 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      So why don’t you install filezilla? It’s in the Hardy repos…

    • Anonymous 4:17 pm on May 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      “It’s decent — but I wish I had something better. In windows, I used filezilla and flashfxp — both had features that gftp simply lacks as a ftp client.

      Doesn’t exactly sound like a “killer app,” does it?

    • Johannes 4:25 pm on May 27, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      At least a list of apps which presents not common software!
      Thank you very much, thank you I discovered Xaos, vym and Stellarium!

    • bottleman 2:03 pm on May 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply

      thanks, i haven’t heard of most of these. i’m going to view my mind right now..

    • Andrew McCombe 2:08 pm on April 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      I agree with you with gFTP. It’s useable but lacks some useful functionality. The Connection Manager/Bookmarks could be better for a start and the ability to File transfer overwrite/resume/skip settings would be cool.

      For me though, a treeview of folders would top it all. I use Filezilla but am finding that it is very slow.

    • Prathamesh 12:48 am on November 7, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks a Lot !, I have just shifted to Ubuntu & this post gave me a fresh look to the linux world.

    • FranciscoNET 12:26 pm on December 28, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      Here is an idea that I have, the best way to get more linux converts so people stop using Microsoft operating systems and start using Linux is to develop a smart Linux killer app. For instance, If I were to develop an application, I would still develop a Windows Version and a linux Version, the only difference here is that the Windows version will be sold at a price, while the linux version will be given for free. That way, I can develop a good animation editing software, charge $999.99 for Windows users and FREE for Linux (GPL it only if you are a Linux user). Guess what’s going to happen?? People will be compelled to switch to Linux to get that free deal and save that $999.99 that they would have need to pay for if they wanted a Windows version of my software.

      • SoundSquare 7:48 am on January 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        people would simply run a virtual linux machine to keep Windows and run your software.

    • qajaq 3:33 pm on January 28, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I don’t know what you’re looking for in an FTP program, but I’ve been very happy with NCFTP (from the command-line). I’ve also found that I can use the Dolphin file manager (in KDE) as an FTP client. Using the split window, I can display the external server files in one side, and my local files on the other side, and simply drag-and-drop to move files in either direction.

    • BIO 3:12 am on April 3, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      For #20 position I just found an application named Krusader:

      it has 2 panels ( local and remote side )
      You can synchronize recursively dirs and files
      You can add custom buttons
      You can connect in FTP, SFTP, SMB and FISH mode

      I think it sould be better than #20… btw that’s the right one.

      • Shannon 11:58 am on April 5, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Tanks for the note BIO!

        Yeah, Krusader is def better than gftp.

        Also, I have been using Filezilla a bit lately. Great FTP app & works on all major platforms.

    • ixo 3:13 am on July 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      where is pidgin ?

  • mcphersonz 10:35 am on April 23, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    New version of Ubuntu available tomorrow! 

    I can’t wait…. A new major release of Ubuntu will be available for download on the 24th. Ubuntu v8.04 (Hardy Heron) brings a bunch of improvements to the table — new features, bug fixes, etc.

    Here are some of the new / updated areas that interested me:

    There’s a ton more — check out info on the release candidate here:

    You can always get the latest version of ubuntu here:

  • mcphersonz 10:17 am on April 12, 2008 Permalink | Reply  

    Updating Instiki from v0.10 to v0.13 

    A company I work for uses Instiki to as a wiki-type system on the company intranet. Instiki is a simple RoR (Ruby on Rails) wiki clone written by David Heinemeier Hansson (… the creator of the Ruby on Rails framework). It’s a great app & I would recommend looking into it if you have not already.

    Anyway, I found that upgrading from v0.10 to v0.13 was a little challenging. Here’s what I did to make it work the way I wanted it to:

    1. Download & Install instiki v0.13. It’s damn easy. Follow onscreen directions. If you get stuck, see the Instiki website.

    2. Dump data from v0.10 to a sql file.

    There is a dump script for recent versions of instiki, but I did not see the v0.10 install. The dump script is called “import_storage”.

    You can use the “import_storage “script that comes with v0.13 to dump the data from your v0.10 install by executing the following from within instiki v0.13 app root directory:

    ruby script/import_storage -t /tmp/i2500 -i /usr/local/instiki-0.10.1/ -d mysql -o /tmp/instiki_20080408-1.sql

    /usr/local/instiki-0.10.1/ is the path to the 0.10 app
    /tmp/instiki_20080408-1.sql is the path of the dump file
    /tmp/12500 is a temp path (may or may not be needed depending on system permissions)

    From there, you should have a sql file that contains a dump of the current v0.10 database in the form of a .sql file located at: /tmp/instiki_20080408-1.sql

    3. Load up 0.10 data into the 0.13 database

    When you installed instiki 0.13, you created a new database. Let’s call that database “wiki”. You need to load the sql file you just created into that database now.

    You can load the .sql file into your mysql ‘wiki’ database by executing:

    $ mysql -u[username] -p[password] wiki < /tmp/instiki_20080408-1.sql

    4. Empty the SPAM pattern file

    v0.13 contains a SPAM detection feature that uses keywords. Cool idea, but the default list of patterns is kinda odd. For example, any page that contains the following words will be marked as SPAM: airplane, good job, hamburger…. and a ton of other totally random words. I would definitely recommend emptying the SPAM pattern file (and adding words as necessary if needed).

    You can empty the SPAM pattern file by executing:

    echo “” > [app root]/config/spam_patterns.txt

    5. Allow forward-slash (/) to appear in page names.

    With instiki v0.10, page names could contain forward slashes in them, for example: “CARS/TRUCKS”. When I installed v0.13, I found that links to these pages would cause a internal server error – a error screen was displayed instead of the page I wanted. Not sure if this is due to changes with rails, routing, or instiki itself, but I was able to change the routes to behave the way I wanted them to by adding 1 line to [app root]/config/routes.rb….

    after the last “connect_to_web” line in routes.rb, I added:

    connect_to_web map, ‘:web/show/*id’, :controller => ‘wiki’, :action => ‘show’

    This should “glob” any text after :web/show to an array. Also, you will then need to edit the “load_page” method in [app root]/app/controllers/wiki_controller.rb to work with the array (it expects a string by default).

    Search [app root]/app/controllers/wiki_controller.rb for “def load_page”, and replace the line:

    @page_name = params[‘id’]


    @page_name = params[‘id’].to_a.join(‘/’)

    At that point, you should be able to use forward slashes in page names.

    6. Tweak the HTML sanitization file

    Lastly, I tweaked the [app root]/lib/sanitize.rb file a bit. You may need to add elements to the “acceptable_elements” array as needed (top of the file). But more importantly, I found that HTML that was entered in uppercase (for example, <BR> or <H1>) was being escaped. I know it’s old-school HTML, but that’s what the company’s wiki contained. So, rather than updating the HTML, I made the wiki accept it. It seems that because it is uppercase, it fails to match the acceptable list of tags. I changed the sanitize_html method to be:

    def sanitize_html(html)
    if html.index(“<“)
    tokenizer =
    new_text = “”

    while token =
    node = XHTML::Node.parse(nil, 0, 0, token, false)
    new_text << case node.tag?
    when true
    if ALLOWED_ELEMENTS.include?(
    if node.closing != :close
    node.attributes.delete_if { |attr,v| !ALLOWED_ATTRIBUTES.include?(attr) }
    ATTR_VAL_IS_URI.each do |attr|
    val_unescaped = CGI.unescapeHTML(node.attributes[attr].to_s).gsub(/[00-40\177-\240]+/,”).downcase
    if val_unescaped =~ /^[a-z0-9][-+.a-z0-9]*:/ and !ALLOWED_PROTOCOLS.include?(val_unescaped.split(‘:’)[0])
    node.attributes.delete attr
    if node.attributes[‘style’]
    node.attributes[‘style’] = sanitize_css(node.attributes[‘style’])
    node.to_s.gsub(/</, “<“)
    node.to_s.gsub(/</, “<“)

    html = new_text

    … the main difference is the addition of “downcase” methods to the comparison lines.

    That’s it. Works great for me. Please let me know if this was helpful, or if you have a better way to achieve these results!

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