Lenovo ThinkPad T510: Ubuntu
Here I describe some of the key application and system software I’ve installed on Ubuntu beyond the default programs. I always install the latest version of Ubuntu; I like to benefit from the latest and the greatest, and there’s a new version every April and October, without fail.
Native Linux programs: Open source software
This is a general purpose FTP client. I use it mainly for website development; it is fully sufficient for this purpose. It also supports SFTP, which I mainly use to connect to my jailbroken iPhone. I’ve used a number of FTP clients, and this one does everything I need, which isn’t much. Since it’s open source software, I’m happy to use it; proprietary clients don’t provide any extra features that I need.
XSane Image Scanner
Native Linux programs: Proprietary software
Antidote ( « le remède à tous vos mots » ) is the premier grammar corrector for the French language. If all you know for grammar correction is Microsoft Word’s built in corrector, then you have no idea of how powerful such a tool is. To get a taste, you could try the free online BonPatron, only Antidote is much more powerful (admittedly, I’ve only used BonPatron to a limited extent. While not perfect (only an expert human proofreader could be near perfect), Antidote is so good that, as its creators say, you sometimes feel that it actually understands what you are trying to say.
I pass all my completed French work through Antidote, except for some very quick, simple e-mails. One native francophone has said that my Antidote-passed worked is better than the writing of many francophones. That alone should say a lot for the software. It is the only one of the resources on this page that is not free (and it’s not cheap), but it is an absolutely indispensable tool for anyone who regularly does any kind of work. One native francophone professional translator told me that she wouldn’t even think of submitting any work that she hadn’t passed through Antidote. At the very least, it’s going to catch some stupid little typos, which could be embarrassing for a professional. However, unlike all the other resources here, Antidote is not for beginners–their documentation is 99% in French (the 1% in English pretty much explains to anglophones that the documentation is 100% in French).
Qoppa PDF Studio
Google Desktop Search (freeware)
Jungle Disk Desktop (freeware, but attached service is not free)
Windows programs on Linux
Although I am a proponent of open source software, I am a proponent of excellent software, regardless of sourcing paradigm. There are some Windows programs that are more excellent than their equivalents in other operating systems, and there are some Windows programs for which no suitable alternative exists in Linux. For these, I have two solutions: I run Crossover Linux (the proprietary version of Wine), and run the Windows programs on them, or I run the VirtualBox virtual machine with Windows XP as the guest system. Here I describe my Windows-on-Linux setup. All of the programs listed here are proprietary applications that I had to pay for unless otherwise indicated.
Proprietary Wine: Codeweavers Crossover Linux
Wine is an open-source binary-compatibility layer that permits running binary Windows programs on Linux or Mac. Crossover is a proprietary version of Wine produced by Wine’s chief contributors, Codeweavers, that enables Windows programs to run with minimal extra configuration. Whereas Wine typically requires a lot of application-specific tweaking to work, Crossover has already done a lot of the tweaking. I use the standard version, which costs around $40. It’s primary focus is support for Microsoft Office, but it also provides heavy support for many other Windows programs. Many other Windows programs that are not officially supported by Crossover work just fine. With Crossover Linux, I am able to bridge the gap for most of the Windows applications I have that don’t have Linux versions or equivalents.
Although OpenOffice.org is an equivalent of Microsoft Office, MS Office is simply the best office program there is. It is feature rich, has an easy-to-use interface, and just feels smooth. My primary quibble with OpenOffice.org is actually very minor: I love MS Word’s feature where when I hover the pointer to the left of a line, it gives me the option to select the entire line—not a sentence or paragraph, but the visual line. I use this feature all the time. OpenOffice.org doesn’t have this feature—I’ve searched extensively for it on the Web, and have confirmed that