Desktop Computing

Ubuntu comes with the best of breed desktop computing applications. Many applications are pre-installed while many can be easily installed using the Ubuntu Software centre. All dependencies will automatically be resolved and a usabe icon will be created on the desktop or in the Unity Bar. The application will then be easily found through the Dash. Some of the leading desktop applications are mentioned below. Feel free to buzz me to add any more apps you think are amazing worth mentioning.

Productivity Apps

  1. Libre Office – Comes as default in Ubuntu and interestingly, once can use it on windows & mac also ( & afcourse if is opensource and free to use
    1. Writer – Wordprocessor (Something similar to Microsoft Word)
    2. Impress –  Create presentations (Something similar to Microsoft PowerPoint)
    3. Calc –  Spreadsheets (Something similar to Microsoft Excel)
    4. Base –  Databases (Something similar to Microsoft Access)
    5. Math – Equation editor
  2. Filezilla – FTP Client for connecting to a FTP server and uploading or downloading files using FTP protocol. Works seamlesslessly with any FTP server or SFTP server as well.
  3. Thunderbird email client – Ubuntu switched to Thunderbird just a few distributions before from Evolution. IMHO, Evolution is a better email client. However, Thunderbird too does a fantastic job of managing your emails, contacts and calendar, though some plugins need to be installed. Thunderbird lacks support for sync-ml and badly needs that plug-in for users who have corporate email servers supporting sync-ml functionality for synching calendars and contacts. There are plug-ins available to sync calendar and contacts with gmail, but not with popular syncml service providers like Rackspace.
  4. Tomboy Notes – Lets you quickly take note of random scbribling, you would like to do while working or while answering a question. The power of Tomboy is that it integrates with Ubuntu One and lets you have all Tomboy Notes across all desktops and laptops running Ubuntu one with one credential, letting you sync all the tomboy notes on all computers. Power of cloud computing.
  5. Instant Messaging
    1. Empathy – Instant Messaging Client supporting multiple chat protocols and interestingly supports Video chat for Google, Jabber and SIP accounts. Works very well with all protocols and is simple to manage. Except for installing some packages for enabling SIP in empathy (refer my post), everything else works out of the box
    2. Skype – Has to be downloaded from the skype website. It is available for both 64 and 32 architectures, and intergrates well with Ubuntu. in Ubuntu 12.04, you will have to install dconf editor and then changes to desktop->panel-unity and add the following text ‘Skype’, ‘skype’ so that Skype icon apperas in the panel in the right handtop corner.
  6. Firefox / Google Chrome – Use any of the browsers. Firefox is pre-installed and works seamlessly with Ubuntu. Google Chrome has released Chrome versions for both 32 and 64 bit versions of Ubuntu and Chrome works like butter in Ubuntu. Google Chrome has to be downloaded from internet and is currently not available in Software Centre
  7. Record My Desktop – Lets you do a recording of the desktop activities in case you are making any self help videos for training. It is a quick and neat way of something similar to BSR Software which is a paid software that runs on Microsoft Windows. This application of-course is a free application
  8. Disk Utility – Lets you manage your hard disks and pen drives, letting you format, partition and mount the disks on the system the way you want them to be used. It is more user friendly but less powerful that gParted.
  9. Remmina Remote Desktop Client – Default application for taking a remote desktop  – Works for taking a remote using various protocols such as RDP (required for taking remote of Windows machines), SSH, SFTP and VNC. Works seamlessly and provides various views such as full screen mode, toggle screens etc.

Social Networking

Ubuntu comes with built in client – Gwibber that lets you configure popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Identica in the desktop application. Using the client, you can post pictures, status messages and read other’s posts and see pictures posted by others. It lets you re-tweet and ‘like’ someone’s post or tweet. It is a very powerful application as it also provides notifications.

In Ubuntu 12.10, you can make facebook, twitter, youtube desktop applications and pin it on the Unity Bar. Right clicking on the icon, will let you post status messages from the desktop itself. It is a very interesting feature to explore.

Media Applications

    1. Audio
      1. Rhythmbox – Default Audio player – plays almost anything once you have installed the ‘Ubuntu Restricted Extras’. You can buy music and
      2. Banshee – Can be installed from software center. Has a good collection of radio stations, android and bada phones seamlessessly integrate and can sync your music
      3. Audacious – It is a default player in Lubuntu and Ubuntu Studio. A very comprehensive, yet light media player. Can be installed in Ubuntu through Software Center


    2. Pictures & Photos
      1. Gimp – Needs to be installed from Ubuntu Software center. This can be called as a near perfect replacemnt to Photoshop. Sounds steep, but ‘SERIOUSLY’ try it out.
      2. Shotwell – A fantastic desktop application which is pre-installed with the Ubuntu Desktop. Imports the pictures directly in place and categorises them into events based on dates. Has the ability to post picstures to various online albums such as Picasa, Flickr etc. You can create albums and post them directly from Shotwel.. You can import pictures from camera and USB drives as well.


    3. Video
      1. VLC – Plays anything you throw at it. You can also stream videos, live video streams through VLC on your network. Works like charm. It is also available through the Software center
      2. Cheese – Photo Booth. Lets you take pictures and create special effects of your face.
      3. Totem Player – Throw in any format of video and it will happily play. One of the things, you should do immediately after installing Ubuntu is install the restricted extras, which will install all the video and audio codecs required to play any format of audio or video file. In Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10, even a SamR format was recognized and it played audio and video formats perfectly well

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