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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Spice up Windows: replace it with Linux; part 1

In my previous post I've stated that I'd like to help people to spice up their system by moving from Windows to Linux. But we all know that it cannot be done in an instant. I will explain step by step how are we going to do this so it will be easy for anyone to follow.

We will do it in 5 following steps:

  1. Spicing up:Internet applications
  2. Spicing up: Multimedia applications
  3. Spicing up: Office/Production applications
  4. Spicing up: Windows (by replacing with Linux)
  5. Play!

So, let's get started!

This time I'm going to explain how to perform step 1 - Spicing up: Internet applications

As I've explained in previous post, Internet applications are used for the following (mainly, of course, and highly subjective):

  • Browsing the web
  • Reading/Writing email
  • Chatting/IM'ing (using instant messengers)
  • P2P applications (bittorrent/eMule are the most popular ones).
  • Internet Telephony

In order to spice up Internet applications, we're going to install the following set of applications to answer our needs (which inherently makes our life better!):

1. Firefox - is known as one of the best browsers in the world. It is open source project, and while maybe not perfect on some (in my opinion - poorly written) sites, it is very customizable and expandable through gazillions of extensions. If you're still using Internet Explorer 6 on your Windows XP box, do it urgently. Firefox is much better and secure browser than IE6, and provides much more functionality using fewer computer resources. Your browsing will never be the same!

2. Thunderbird - is known as one of the best email clients in the world. Just as Firefox (and made by the same team), it is an open source project. It handles email delivery in most known protocols (being POP3 and IMAP) perfectly and without any major problems. It has very good junk control (read spam filter) engine and very good rules engine. The new version (which is at the moment of this writing) has new "tagging" feature which allows you to "tag" (categorize) message with any number of tags and then easily find it by tag without searching. This feature makes Thunderbird to be like Google - allowing to find messages by labels. Great stuff! If you're still using Outlook Express, move to Thunderbird now - it is faster, more stable and more secure.

3. Pidgin - is one of the best IM clients around. It is an open source project, and the best thing that I like about it - it supports 3 major IM networks I use, namely ICQ, Jabber (Google Talk), and MSN. It means that I only use one client to be connected to all networks at once, at I'm able to talk to all my friends! Isn't it cool or what?

4. Xchat2 - an IRC client. If you're on IRC, stop using MIRC and move to Xchat! It is an open source project, has lots of customization options and very nice graphical user interface.

5. Azureus - very good, open source Bittorrent client. Written in Java, has a very good interface, stable and fast. Has many features that other clients don't have, which makes it faster when downloading your favorite Linux distribution.

6. eMule - also very good client, but for ED2K network. It is different protocol of downloading (different from bittorrent that is), but also very popular and fast. Many prefer eMule to Bittorrent, so make up your mind and choose an application!

7. Skype - the most know application in the world for free internet conversations. It is free, beautiful an allow free pc-to-pc communication.

8. Gizmo Project - very similar to Skype, but uses different protocol. It is also free and allows free pc-to-pc conversations.

Both Skype and GizmoProject also allow calling to regular landline and cell phones around the world for considerably low price.

After you install aforementioned applications, use them. It is important to leave older (read your previous) application aside, just in case. But use these new ones all the time. I hope you will find those application easy to use and transfer your data to new applications.

Next time I will explain how do we install Multimedia applications (and which ones) to make Windows more fun.

Feedback is greatly appreciated.


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Anonymous said...

A friend invited me to join voice chat conference along with 10 others on Yahoo Messenger.
Unfortunately, in this case I have no choice other than login to windows...

Alex said...

Yes, you're right. At the moment that would be the only way.

But how many people will be fine with what I'm suggesting? I'm saying lots.

There are some features that aren't available in listed applications. But I still maintain the idea that in the long run most of them will be supported, and I see Yahoo create their client for Linux as well.

In a better scenario, they will just create an online client in a way of Google Talk (Chat).


pete said...

I've tried every linux distro and all have failed within hours. I'd love to use it, but a reliable distro is more important than new features. The latest Ubuntu won't even install: the options to click on are off the bottom of the monitor :(

Alex said...


I really doubt that you've tried every Linux distro. There are just too many.

Importance of reliability is on par with the importance of features. Not being able to install is a feature which has nothing to do with stability or reliability of the system.

I've installed Windows NT 4 on computers without option buttons to press because I haven't seen them, and installing it in 4 or 5 iterations (because drivers are missing) teaches you patience.

Linux OS are getting better everytime. All I was trying to say, is this:
1. If you have recent hardware, there's no need to upgrade to Vista.
2. I'm trying to provide an easy way to move to Linux from Windows by eliminating application's habit.

So, when you're saying all distro's failed, what exactly do you mean? I know Google runs on Linux, and I know our product runs on Linux. And we do sell. And its stable. So what exactly fails for you?


Anonymous said...

You forgot Yahoo Messenger and the best IM for linux that I have found is Kopete for use with YM. There is another one called GYache (sp?) but I haven't been able to install it because one of the dependcies will not load on my laptop because the sound chips are blown :-(

Alex said...

OK, to all:

I know there are plenty of applications in Linux for any task. The reason I'm writing what I'm writing in this series is to soften the move to Linux for Windows users by disabling their "habit" or addiction to Windows applications. So I'm suggesting to install the set of applications which they will have in Linux 1 to 1.

It will make the move "application-independent", so they won't care what operating system they run.

After they get to Linux, we will work on getting them to check for other applications. Just get them to Linux first, OK?

Meanwhile, as far as I know, I can't install Kopete on Windows so I can't recommend it. Agreed?


pete said...

Alex previous comment is now out of date! The collaboration with Dell seems to have worked wonders with Ubuntu reliability. The features were already good, but have got even better!

I wouldn't use anything else now.

Happily, one doesn't need to be a systems engineer to make it work now :)

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