Google Search

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thinking of moving to Linux

Well this thought has been around for a very long time now.
I started to learn to work with Linux a long while ago, in my first professional job. Then was also the time I got to know the world of open source software.
I've been following the development in the Linux world, and every now and then downloaded the latest ISO of some distributions for a test drive. In the end I never gave up Windows. I felt that Linux just could not give me all the tools I need for my everyday tasks.

When I started using a Media Center in the living room, I chose XBMC over Ubuntu Linux. It did a pretty good job and was enough for what I needed.

The Ubuntu distribution was a good Linux choice for a long time, but only now, in version 11.04 it feels like there is nothing I want to do with it and can't.

I always prefer open source software over closed source software and commercial software, with the exception of my Home Windows (Vista 64) which I bought with me PC almost 4 years ago, and Office 2007 Home and Student that I bought for my girlfriend while she was a student (in a great student discount).
Every now and then I review all of the installed programs I have and see which have a Linux version of a descent Linux alternative.

Currently, most of my program have a Linux version and the rest have Linux alternatives:
  • Image Manipulation:
    • Gimp - originally a native Linux program that was ported to Windows.
    • - might run under Mono, and if not there is Pinta.
  • Vector Editing:
    • Inkscape - originally a native Linux program that was ported to Windows.
  • Internet:
  • Programming:
    • I'm developing mostly in C#, so MonoDevelop is my native choice. Used it quite a lot a long time ago. In my current job I'm using Visual Studio. While Mono and MonoDevelop lacks the features of WPF development, I don't think I'll be doing any WPF development at home. I'll try to focus on Internet related development.
  • Source Control:
  • Media Players:
    • Banshee - while there is a Windows version now, I never tried it. But it works fine on Linux.
    • Totem - another media player for Linux.
  • Text Editing:
    • I'm using notepad++ on Windows. There are plenty of alternatives on Linux. This is also my main development tool for Internet scripts (JS, HTML, PHP...)
  • Office Suites:
    • No real replacement for MS Office, but then again, I'm rarely using it. I'm using Google Docs to write most documents. If I really need an office suite, Libre Office (a sane fork of Open Office) is available.
  • Video Editing: (I didn't edit video clips for a long while now, but want to make sure it is possible)
    • Kdenlive - seems to have all the features one possibly wants.
    • Cinelerra - a more professional video editing software, in case Kdenlive won't suffice.
  • 3D Modeling and Animation:
    • This is a sensitive issue. No free software that even compares to 3D Studio Max. I've started using Google Sketchup lately, but no Linux version for that either. There is Blender, which I've tried using several times, but it lacks the native, streaming UI that 3DSMax and Sketchup have (Although the latest version does present an improvement). There are some other alternatives but not as strong, and not as easy to use. I can always run Skethup with Wine, or start a new open source project that will mimic 3DSMax experience :-)
    • Sweet Home 3D - I was using it to plan my apartment. Written in Java it have a Linux version and also an online-in-browser version.
    • Google Earth
  • CAD
    • In the 3D CAD area there is almost nothing, as the market leaders AutoCAD and SolidWorks are for Windows only. Yet I was able to find VariCAD that claims to have a Linux version and seems powerful. Never tried it, though, as the prices are quite high.
    • LinuxCAD also promises to be AutoCAD compatible, but I just can't understand anything from their website and I actually had to search (using Ctrl+F) for the download link. 
    • Open CASCADE is a free, open source and cross platform CAD software that focuses on mathematical models, and allows you among other things to test the strength of structures.
    • In the 2D CAD area there are several options, such as QCAD.
  • Audio Editing:
    • Audacity - when ever I needed to record or edit audio this have been my natural choice.
  • Antivirus:
  • Backup:
    • I switch from Mozy to CrashPlan due to Mozy's new pricing and service terms. Anyway, both have a Linux version.
  • Ability to Fallback:
    • Wine - allows installing and running native Windows applications. Works quite well too, and with its graphics acceleration support (DirectX implemented over OpenGL, I believe) it can also run games.
    • VirtualBox - currently I'm using VirtualBox on Windows to run Linux environments. This can also be done the other way...
    • RDesktop - seems like the most used program that allows connecting to a Windows machine using the Remote Desktop feature from Linux. Good to know it is possible.
    • GnomeRDP - another program that suppose to allow remote desktop connection to Windows. Could not find any screen shots that proves it, though.

With such a long list, I think my switch is closer than ever :-)


  1. Slightly different spin on things but here is another guide to help anyone thinking about moving to linux :)

  2. For alternate to Notepad++, check out Textmate, although its not freeware. Otherwise Emacs, Vi should work.

    You don't need antivirus on linux.