My current desktop environment

Open Source Book coverHi! You've found a page that was previously published on, a web site associated with the book John wrote called Open Source Solutions for Small Business Problems. This book is available for purchase at Amazon (affiliate link), but we've rolled all the web site content into John's business site.

Don't hesitate to drop us a line if you need anything!

June 9, 2007 - 6:54am -- John Locke

Several others have listed the applications they use on a daily basis. I've been using Linux for my desktop environment for several years, and thought I would share what I use constantly.

  • Operating System: Ubuntu Feisty Fawn, 7.10
  • Desktop Environment: Gnome (though I tend to prefer KDE overall, Ubuntu does a better job with Gnome, especially integrating laptop features like power management, and Gnome has gotten good enough to use as the primary desktop. You'll see lots of KDE applications listed here, though!)
  • Browser: Firefox (what else?)
  • Firefox plugins: Bookmarks Synchronizer, Firebug, Web Developer, Forecast Fox, Google Preview, HTML Validator, Sage, SearchStatus
  • Email client: Mozilla Thunderbird, occasionally Evolution
  • Thunderbird extensions: Asertiva Extension for Sugar, Display Mail User Agent, Enigmail, Lightning, QuickFile, QuickText
  • News Reader: Firefox Sage extension for general stuff, Thunderbird for security-related feeds
  • Calendar: Evolution
  • Address book: SugarCRM (okay, it's not a desktop application)
  • Miscellaneous notes: Tomboy
  • IM: Kopete (though I mostly keep it off to avoid interruptions)
  • IRC: Konversation
  • Networking: NetworkManager with OpenVPN add-on, OpenVPN Admin for connecting/testing client VPN networks
  • Development: ActiveState Komodo Professional (almost the only proprietary software on the list!)
  • File management: Konqueror (hard to beat this for connecting to almost any type of server out there)
  • General editing: vi
  • Office software: (currently at 2.2)
  • Desktop search: Beagle
  • Graphic editing: Gimp
  • Database editing: Rekall
  • Multimedia playing: Kaffeine, Amarok, and DemocracyTV
  • Photo Management: F-Spot
  • Audio editing: Audacity, though I'm starting to play around with Jokosher
  • Disk Encryption: Truecrypt
  • Personal Finance: GnuCash
  • Repetitive Stress Injury Prevention: Workrave

I use a lot of server software, and spend much of my time in shell (terminal) windows... I usually have two terminal windows, each with 3 or 4 open tabs, all connected to different servers, many with multiple sessions running in screen.

There's a bunch of other software I have installed, but don't use regularly, including Scribus, Inkscape, Xara Extreme, and many others. Aside from some specialty industry applications, I have a hard time imagining anything I couldn't do with my current desktop environment, and out of this entire list, there's exactly one item I have to pay for: the Komodo IDE I use for development. Everything else here is free.

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  1. If you are a user of business software and are interested in finding out more about open source options for your business or office, you may be a little bit frustrated about the lack of introductory-level information on this topic... The best single source of such information that I have found so far is John Locke's "Open Source Solutions for Small Business Problems." It provides an excellent introduction to the concepts, advantages, and disadvantages behind open-source.

    Julius Walczynski
    Sourcio user review

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