Microsoft and Apple are not the only companies that are able to provide a productive environment to it’s users, as the hard working open source bees of the community are not letting us go without the free and open equivalents of the proprietary software.a
From PDF Readers, to Spreadsheet Editors, to Accesibility Tools, today i will introduce you to some that you can install via the default package manager of your preferred distribution. I will provide no proprietary software in this listing so if you hate paying for software or having your freedoms restricted, have no worries.
1 – LibreOffice
LibreOffice replaced OpenOffice in most Linux distributions as there was an unexcusable delay in implementing features asked by the users plus that it’s development speed was decided to be too slow to maintain (see: http://askubuntu.com/questions/315224/why-libreoffice-is-default-instead-of-openoffice-org).
LibreOffice is the Microsoft Office equivalent for Linux in the sense that it has Spreadsheet, Word Document, Presentation and ODBC Access tools in it. All the tools look and work exactly the same as their Windows counterparts and the feature i love about it is that you can convert any of the document types to a format that the Windows applications will accept (Such as saving a Word Document in the .docx extension).
And the cool thing is that it comes installed out of the box with most distributions (except more hardcore ones like Debian). For Office users i guess, this will be enough of a reason to switch completely to using Linux instead of Windows.
2 – TeXMaker
An editor for LaTex documents, mostly used in the academic circles, with a beautiful interface in QT4 (albeit not too shiny). This is mostly useful for creating beautiful PDF formatted documents with the correct identation of text (for example, italic for quotes). Helps you follow a standard of documentation as well as create essays, spreadsheets (not recommended, use libreoffice instead), very feature rich and has a fair history of stableness. Would recommend for document creation & editing.
3 – Abiword & Gnumeric
If you don’t want to deal with resource-hog full productivity suites, and just want to get working (for example, inserting some formulas to a spreadsheet or creating an article for your article job), you can install yourself the gnumeric and abiword-en packages from your loved distribution’s even more loved package manager. Abiword is a document editor like Microsoft Word, and Gnumeric is a spreadsheet editor & creator written by the guys that work on the Gnome Desktop (speaking of Gnome Desktop, if you use it, you should have abiword and gnumeric pre-installed under Applications -> Office -> Gnumeric for Gnumeric and Applications -> Office -> Abiword for abiword). Both are minimal tools that won’t occupy much resources (my gnumeric was 3 MB in installation) and will enable you to just get on working with no fuss. None of them lack the needed set of features so do not worry about that either!
4 – Gnome Sticky Notes
I use this on my MATE desktop (fork of old Gnome 2) to make a list of things i have to do as i pretty much forget things i need to do on a daily basis. I just write a list like:
- Finish X task
- Start Y task
- Go to the store, get a kg of bananas
- Go to X guy to get the Y item
And the yellow window is in front of my nose whatever i do. I am never able to forget anything because all the things are in my face (thing is, you can disable the “Always on Top” option, but that is not what i want). You can open different sticky notes in the same workspace, so you can have your grocery list, your tasks, and another list in the same place without losing them. Overall a great tool to have (and hey, it comes pre-installed with the gnome desktop too!)
5 – Evolution
Evolution is the open source equivalent of the Microsoft Outlook application, that supports POP3, SMTP, Gmail, and USENET client. It looks and works the same as the Microsoft counterpart so you don’t have to worry about getting used to a new application, this one you will be able to use it just like Outlook after going through the first e-mail setup screen.
6 – Evince
This is my favorite PDF Viewer across all the platforms that exist. Multiple PDF documents in tabs, indexing, bookmarking, fast opening (i can start reading the MySQL 5.5 reference in a single second, which consists of 5049 pages, for christ’s sake). It comes out of the box in the Linux distributions that ship with Gnome (or if you have installed Gnome yourself, you should have it under Applications > Office). It would have been better if it had an editing feature too (it would make it just perfect), but just as it is right now, it is a great tool to have on your desktop.
7 – Geany
Geany is a lite text / code editor with syntax highlighting, auto-completion, embedded virtual terminal, class / object / id hierarchy, file hierarchy, compiling / testing code, and many other features that come with it out of the box in a package that doesn’t reach more than one single mega byte.
I use it for my daily coding exercises & work and it is able to auto-complete most of the functions that i use (i.e mt_rand() for PHP). This is a pretty good tool for it’s size (the small size is because it’s written in C and GTK+, light tools themselves).
Great tool, would recommend.
Overall, it will be your decision to use which tool for which action, but it is always good to go with a recommendation from someone who is knowledgeable about a subject. Linux being a performant and low resource-consuming system in itself expect your productivity to rise just by the fact that you meet no blocks / freezes like in Windows. You can transform and old computer easily into a productive one using Linux and the tools we’ve recommended above.
Meet you in another article!