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Essential Linux Apps

Paul Michael
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2001
Posts: 697
I'm new to Linux and I would love to hear what applications you think are the most important/useful.
Currently I only have tomcat, jdk and some apps from the mandrake cd installed. Care to share what's inside your Linux Box?


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Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
This really depends on what you plan to use the machine for. I have several Linux machines with different main uses:
1. file server and gateway machine. Runs the "E-smith" distribution (http://www.e-smith.org/) with JDK1.3 and Resin web server added for local access, as well as Hylafax, diald and so on for erxternal connectivity.
2. public web host machine (2 of). Runs Red Hat 7 with JDK, Apache, Resin, djbdns, PostgreSQL and a load of custom scripts for user and domain admin.
3. "sidekick" web application test box. Runs Red Hat 7.1 with JDK, Apache, Resin, PostgresSQL, MySQL and a bundle of server-side java tools (Webmacro, Cactus, HTTPUnit, Ant etc..)
4. dual-boot Windows/Linux box. Mostly I run Windows 2000, but this box also has my token GUI install (RedHat 7.1 with KDE) in case I find I really need to use some tool which only has an X-Windows interface
5. old test box, currently not connected to anything, even power. SuSE 6.2 with all sorts of accumulated crap.


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Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16019
    
  20

Life is a little different in the Linux world. On the one hand, a stock distro can install packages that would take 20 CDs (and about as many 10's of 1000's of dollars) in the Windows world. Often clicking the "dumb install" button can load you up with compilers for languages you never use, databases, multimedia and text-processing tools, etc, etc, etc. Makes Microsoft's "xyz is a INTEGRAL part of Windows" slogan seem pale by comparison. Except that Linux packages usually don't have the security-risk options turned ON by default.
On the other extreme, you'll often have a "thin" install option that just puts up the OS and its minimal support tools.
As for myself, I usually have a fixed use for the machine in mind and often it's a recycle, so the disk isn't "unlimited", so I do a custom install and pick the particular packages I think I'll need. Since I'm using rpms, any dependencies will get pulled into the list as well. And it's usually much easier to add/remove other items as needed than it is in Windows, mostly because the Windows Registry is both rather baroque these days and more work to keep clean compared to a file structure like /etc. Mostly because the registry is also used for items that would be held outside /etc, but also because more general-purpose programs can be used to manipulate the /etc text files than can manipulate the binary registry structure.


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Paul Michael
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2001
Posts: 697
Thanks for replying Frank and Tim!
However my requirements are not that heavy like yours...
I think I just need an IDE for java... and install a DB like MySQL maybe...
If there's also any Graphics software like Adobe Photoshop, HTML Editors like Allaire's Homesite and Audio Players like Winamp that you guys might want to recommend... That would greatly be appreciated.
Thanks again!
Guy Allard
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 24, 2000
Posts: 776
Paul - Look for IDE's and links at sun.com, or google for them.
MySQL is here
List of (some) Linux apps here
and here
Lots of stuff available via STW.
HTH, Guy
Paul Michael
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2001
Posts: 697
Thanks Guy for the links to those sites!
But I find it very difficult to choose the Best Apps among thousands of other downloadable software.
If it's ok with the other Ranchers here, I think it would be better if they post here the kinds of Apps they really use...
Anyway thanks again! I'm checking the links you gave me right now...
Frank Carver
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 07, 1999
Posts: 6920
Well, the Linux "photoshop" is the Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) available from http://www.gimp.org . Apparently it is very popular and a serious contender. For a database I tend to prefer PostgreSQL, although MySQL is also very popular.
I wouldn't know about HTML editing, I generate all my pages by hand or using XML/XSLT. Likewise I have never used a Java IDE or a media player on Linux.
I can't help noticing that you are focussing on GUI desktop applications, and in particular you seem to already be familiar with Windows-hosted tools which already do the job. What is prompting you to move away from these comfortable tools? Although the great majority of the computers I own and use are Linux/Unix based, I still use Windows systems for what they are good at (GUI, desktop applications and multimedia work).
Paul Michael
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2001
Posts: 697
Hello again Frank! I just wanted to see how they compare to the Win Apps... And I also want to find out if they're any cheaper.
I don't plan to completely move away from Windows just yet cause I still need it for lots of stuff like syncing my Sony Clie.
However I really find the Linux alternative quite tempting.
Anyway thanks again for your informative reply.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16019
    
  20

Oh, you bring tears of joy to Bill Gate's eyes when you say things like "I can't move off Windows because I need it to sync with my Sony Clie". That is one nice thing about the Palm-compatibles - Linux support. For me the other was only having to change batteries every week or 2. I'll do without the nice bright colors in excahnge for that.
As far as Java IDE's go, Borland's got lots of experience, and I've personally never heard anything bad about JBuilder. I've got Sun's Forte CE installed and it's nice feature-wise, although it will eat a sub-GHz CPU alive. The "filesystem" concept is a bit unusual, though, and I've found it difficult to display data in certain contexts in their debugger (though Visual Caf´┐Ż has been known to be obstinate too!). Mostly, I'm using the JDE mode in Emacs myself.
I was amused to note that the "xmms" player for Linux displayed information that the Windows CD player didn't. I've used it to play CDs and listen to ShoutCast. Don't expect to listen to Windows Media Webcasts, but given a choice I select Real Audio even under Windows. Microsoft is just a little too cozy with those in the audio and video/film industries that want to switch us from "fair use" to "pay for each and every play".
Some people swear that the Gimp blows away anything you'll find for Windows. I can't say, but what little experience I have impressed me.
I edit HTML with Emacs, BTW. On Windows, I use HTML-Kit. The fancier GUI editors tend to lag standards and some of the earlier ones generated HTML that worked in most browsers but violated the technical standard. Dynamic pages like JSPs are pretty hard to work with in a static-layout GUI editing environment anyway. There's also a JSP-savvy editor in Forte.
Paul Michael
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 02, 2001
Posts: 697
Hi Tim! Sorry for the delay in my reply. Anyway just wanted share that I'm giving Linux another shot at my Home PC. I still have my Win PC at the office so the Clie thing won't be much of a problem. Again, I would like to thank you all for your informative posts! I'm trying to download Jbuilder and Gimp right now.
 
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