Key applications when transitioning off Mac OS X to Ubuntu

Since moving off OS X as my main OS on my daily computer (2011 MacBook Pro) last month, I have found these applications great to use. There are many “best apps” lists out there, but these applications are the ones I find I am using all the time to cover the various things I did when I used to rely just on OS X. This is geared more towards the system admin user.


This is huge. It is not installed by default on Ubuntu which is unfortunate because it is just a superior browser. Ubuntu bundles Firefox, but c’mon now.



I ran this and Panic’s Transmit on OS X for sftp transfers. Runs well on Linux. Again, not bundled by default but should be.



The video toolbox is great on Linux.



If you can, compile on your own to get the latest from the git repository. Must have if you are doing any video conversion. Runs better in Linux than in OS X in my tests. You can get the various GUI versions, etc. but you have to run command-line.



Not quite as nice as iMovie for simple editing, but more robust with multiple timelines, etc.


VMWare Workstation

It’s worth it. You can even get a OS X 10.6 guest VM working if you absolutely need something on OS X. It is also a security blanket to jump back into if you need to run documentation for users. VirtualBox and others are out there, and VMWare costs money, but it is better. It’s nice to have Windows and OSX as guest operating systems if needed.



The best network packet analyzer. Years ago it was known as Ethereal.


Thunderbird with Sunbird

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Thunderbird. But, recent versions are better. Connecting it to a groupware server and doing CardDav to get contacts and then installing the recent build of Sunbird to use CalDav to get calender events actually works for the first time in my memory. I thought I would be running Outlook in a VM or WINE or something but this is actually handling things well. I was as shocked as you. My iPhone is doing ActiveSync to my Kerio Connect server OTA and Thunderbird and Sunbird are dishing the data to my Ubuntu Linux laptop. It is reliable now. I still do have Outlook ready to go on the Windows and OS X guest VMs just in case, but I am not going to them at all.



I used to be more of a Cairo-dock guy but no longer. Docky is stable and a pleasure to use to provide an OS X taskbar-like launcher for Unity or GNOME.



Not shipped as the default GUI on Ubuntu for a few years now as they have moved to Unity. This is too bad. Unity is still a mess IMHO. Even with the various tweaks, etc. Unity is still not something I can work with and stand especially coming from OSX. GNOME Shell and desktop allow you much more flexibility on configuration of your desktop interface. I try to use Unity now and again, but always leave it. GNOME with Docky is pretty sweet. Also, you don’t have to deal with all the Amazon garbage Shuttleworth and Co. are cramming into Unity now.



This is a program I have used off and on for years on Linux and Windows. I never got it to run reliably on OS X. It was actually a program I missed using when on Mac. Easier and faster than the OMNIGroup stuff.


Synaptic Package Manager

Sadly, Ubuntu stopped including this by default. I suppose it is so they can bundle more Amazon ads garbage into the Ubuntu Software application. Synaptic is better. It gives you more details and more information on packages and more abilities to selectively install and remove via a GUI. Obviously, this kind of tool is MIA on Mac OS X except for the Apple App Store app which can only mange software you acquired through Apple’s walled-garden,



I don’t intend to duel with people on text or code editors or choice, but on OS X I was a BBEdit or TextWrangler guy and not seeing much downside running with jEdit. I do mostly XML stuff and it has been wonderful to use. I do wish it had the open from sftp that I used to use all the time, but partnered with FileZilla, I’m good.



I used the built-in Apple commands in the Finder all the time to generate screenshots under OSX. This is the built-in GNOME screenshot app and it is just fine for having around. Throw it into Docky for quick access.



I am not going to talk about GIMP and LibreOffice all that much. They work. People love GIMP, I think it is okay. GIMP is an additional install. LibreOffice is bundled with Ubuntu 12.10 and is more than adequate for general use. I use it for editing Excel and Word docs and send them back to people on Windows and OS X without problems. I hope this was a decent list for people to think about when they are looking at other options as OS X gets more limiting down the road for users that might no longer fit into Apple’s demographic. For the last 5 years or so, I have done this “move to Linux” experiment about every six months or so with an extra hard drive to see if I could do it. This is the first time it has actually stuck and I have a couple of weeks under my belt now and not looking back.

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