Now, in recent news a well known computer company in California announced they would start scanning their customers phones for shell we call it illegal content. Since many blogs started blowing up about this I figured I should write here again and about something completely different, because why go with the masses….
Software I use on a daily basis
Why I am writing this? For a couple of reasons. One is that new Linux users often find it difficult to get oriented on how to get things done on their shiny new OS. Another is to serve as a reminder for my self whenever I might be making eyes on other OSes. But hey, maybe even some diehard linux users might find something new here?
One thing I am sure about though and that is it will be more than one post as this is a very long topic. So let’s get started.
The amount of available operating systems out there is astonishing from BSD to Linux over Mac to Windows. And when it comes to the BSDs and Linuxes the list of available distributions is about as long as one can imagine. I personally prefer using either Fedora or Ubuntu both in the Gnome version (Should I do desktop environment separate to OS?) , and here is why.
I already mentioned why I like Ubuntu in a previous post and a big point is that the LTS versions run for 5 years on the same stable basis they shipped on, meaning your computer doesn’t change dramatically in that period of time while still receiving all the needed security updates. Intermediate versions give a good look ahead so one knows what to expect from the next LTS version.
But all that stability comes at a cost and that is, amongst other things hardware enablement. And that is where Fedora comes in. Fedora moves at a much faster pace than Ubuntus LTS versions (and intermediate releases). It is about as close to a rolling lease as one can get on a semi annual update basis and whatever new hardware arrives it will soon run on Fedora.
Now, where do I use which OS?
Ubuntu runs on everything I need to be stable, namely my desktop PC and my Thinkpad.
Both devices are well supported on 20.04 LTS and none are facing hardware changes any time soon.
Fedora runs on my tablet, a Surface Go 2 where everything except the cameras are working by now.
The software stack on all these devices is about the same, as I shell explain later in this post.
Do I distro-hop these days? No, not anymore.
That would be the first thing I’d advice any new linux user to do. Distributions aren’t very different from each other in most cases. At least to the naked eye. Once you found something that works well on your hardware, stick with it. Learn how to deal with small hick-ups, but don’t go ahead and install the next distribution just because one thing doesn’t work out of the box. Linux based OSes have their handicaps out of the box, but most things can be solved with a bit of tinkering. Changing ones OS, at least for me, often solves that one issues, but opens others.
Also going after that one issue instead of re-installing helps to better understand the OS. Linux is a very open platform and you can change just about anything you want, be it the desktop environment, the window manger or the display server.
Daily desktop programs
These days the browser is one of the heartpeaces of any device, be it a phone, tablet or PC and choosing the right one for ones needs is a very important step.
My personal favorite is Mozilla Firefox and there are a couple of reasons why.
The first reason is, it is an open source browser and also one of the last remaining competitors to googles chrome engine. That is something rather important to me and also to almost every one remembering the browser wars.
The second reason is an extension called multi account containers. This lovely little piece of code allows to isolate tabs from each other, so cookies and logins etc are separated. This not only allows you to be signed in to multiple accounts on a service but also as a nice side effect it doesn’t allow tracking over multiple tabs.
I also have chromium (Chrome without Google) and Gnome Web running, so I can check how changes I make to web pages render on other engines.
I mostly use Libre Office as my office suite. It has just about every office application one needs, Libre Office Draw is particularly good for editing PDFs and Writer and Calc serve my needs just well.
But as in every other company I often have to deal with MS Office formatted files and while Libre Office is way better with this by now than back in the days I started using Linux it still isn’t perfect. That’s why I also always install OnlyOffice. OnlyOffice is a very modern office suite and focused and MS Office compatibility and on most files Libre struggles with OnlyOffice is able to correctly display and edit.
But there are still some files that just won’t work and also the entire MS Access “databases” field. That is where I just start a Windows 10 VM with MS office and get the job done. I know, not free software blablabla, but with my income being depended on working with other companies I have to see the situation a little more pragmatic.
There are 3 major tools I use.
Number one is plain ssh via gnome-terminal and while that sounds like a simple no brainer, very few know how powerful ssh really is. Amongst Unix based OSes ssh allows to mount the remote hosts file system or specific folder, is able to pass the X-Session so you have the remote GUI at your finger tips. All in all, if properly used (between linux machines) one is hard pressed to need another remote tool.
But as we are on the subject, Remmina. Remmina is a remote tool that allows to connect via about any protocol ever invented. From MS rdp to vnc, nx, ssh you name it. All in one tool, including account management and, at least according to me, the best client for microsoft rdp. Even better than the native version. It allows (Under x-org) to bind the guest keyboard to the remote session and release it via a hot key, supports dynamic resolution, handles dropped connections like a champ and is amazingly fast doing all of that. If you are stuck on windows and ever wanted a reason to try WSL2 with GUI, Remmina is the reason to do so.
I also a times use NoMachine. NoMachine is based on the NX-Protocol and a really nice and fast remote server and client. The down side is, it needs an active desktop (aka no headless version)
For supporting 3rd parties, my go to tools are AnyDesk and Teamviewer as both are available for just about any OS and are straight forward to use while working well enough for support tasks.
I think this is where I will leave it for now and get this post out. Next up will be developing environments, little helpers making ones day easier, media stuff and my server side programs I can’t live without. Stay tuned!