Quite some time ago I wrote this post…
...] (A week without Microsoft Windows)
I decided to spend a week using Linux as opposed to the Microsoft Windows operating system that I had been using since Windows 95. I used that thread to document my progress and explain what tools and software I was using under Linux to carry out my daily tasks.
That thread is now 8 years old and I feel it’s time to revisit the topic because my journey didn’t end when that week was over, far from it. I became a full-time Linux user.
My current home/office setup consists of a desktop running Kubuntu (Ubuntu with KDE desktop). My laptop running Kubuntu a couple of phones and tablets all running Android and a LAN server running Ubuntu Server.
The server acts like a web server for developing projects on, I have also set up NFS (Network file system) so that files can simply be dragged from the laptop or desktop to a folder on the server. This is a fairly simple method of backing those systems up, although It’s not enough. The server also has a 2nd HDD that is purely used for storage. I have a script that runs nightly on a cron to create a folder and copy the contents of disk 1 backups and the systems own home folder.
It simply creates a folder called [unix-timestamp] with the backed up files in there. I manually delete these folders as they get outdated to save disk space.
What do I do now compared to then?
Back then I was a designer/Developer and I mainly worked on my own projects although I did have client work as well. Now I continue to work mainly on my own projects, but I am a lot less of a designer. I am still a back-end developer, but I tend to use frameworks or outsource the design stuff.
What tools do I use?
Browsing the web
For surfing my default browser is Firefox. Firefox developers have not focused purely on Windows, every release is also available for Linux and Mac. They have been releasing in parallel for years.
I use Thunderbird email client. It is also from Mozilla (they create Firefox) and I have found it to be very useful and stable. There are other email clients that do perhaps have better integration with a contact manager, but it works for me. It’s light, not obtrusive and just does what I want it to.
When referring to plain text editors people will always think of Notepad. On many Linux distributions, the default tool for .txt files will be Kate. It’s just a simple text editor. The developers have tried to “up the game” with features like projects where you can assign groups of files and tab views where you can open multiple documents.
For an extremely easy way to edit a text document, there are also many tools available through the console (Think command prompt). This sounds daunting and challenging, but after a while, in Linux, the console just becomes another tool to help you get things done.
I only code in HTML/CSS and PHP so my needs aren't that great. I use an IDE called Bluefish for all my coding needs.
It can be great for simply opening a script file and making an edit right down to creating a project from the ground up. It’s good being able to see the project tree to the left whilst having tabs of files open in the main pane. If your needs are much more advanced and you need to be able to work on larger more advanced projects Java, C, Python etc there are many more full-featured IDE’s out there such as Eclipse or Netbeans.
I use Filezilla for FTP, or in my case SFTP. (Secure FTP) There is no reason not to use SFTP in this day and age. If your host doesn’t support it, Move to one that does. The files you upload on a daily basis contain some fairly sensitive information. Think of a database config file with a username and password.
I use FTP for moving files to and from various hosts including my LAN server.
I currently use LibreOffice. When I first became a Linux user OpenOffice was the typical office suite. Libre Office is a port of Open Office and from the user interface point of view, they are almost identical. It’s under the skin where we see real improvements. More reliable and more secure.
On a windows machine, you will typically use Microsoft Office. How does Libra office compare and what files can it work with?
Libre Office Writer, This can open or edit documents created with Microsoft Office. It can also save files with an extension that can be understood and opened by Microsoft Office.
Calc is the default tool for opening such documents under LibreOffice. It has a very similar look and feel to Excel and they can open, edit and save the same file types.
Under Microsoft Office, users will be familiar with Access. With LibreOffice, there is a database package called “Base”. Both do a similar function, just in a very different way.
LibreOffice boasts “Impress” as an alternative to Powerpoint. They are very compatible. Under Impress you can open, edit and save a .ppt file.
Many of the tools available under LibreOffice (Or OpenOffice) are designed to offer a direct replacement for various items in the Microsoft toolchain. The ability to create and edit files that can later be opened and accessed by Microsoft users in no doubt a key consideration.
Under LibreOffice we also have the following…
Draw: For creating graphical documents
Math: Formula editor (for documents, spreadsheets and presentations)
The one area where I think Libra office could improve is far better integration with an email system. Think about how well-integrated Outlook is with Microsoft Office.
Linux has certainly changed a lot since I first tried it back in the dark ages. Now it is certainly a viable alternative for the home user.