The applications I can’t (won’t?) live without

My sudden defection from the dwindling Graveman fan club (is there anyone left there now?) set me to wondering what other applications I’m clinging to, that might not have any real merit to them. I scraped the Internets this afternoon looking for any alternatives that were more attractive, and these are the finalists for now. As best I can tell, all these are available in both Arch and Ubuntu.

Note that I haven’t counted some obvious programs, like X (do you want me to include the kernel too?! and Grub?!), and I’ve left out programs that are console-based (with a couple of exceptions), since I covered those in earlier posts. And besides, a console-only system is a completely different animal — a very cool, fast, sharp, efficient, precise and predatory animal. :twisted:

  1. Openbox 3.4.4. My world changed for the better — so much better — when I stopped using Gnome all the time. Openbox made everything move faster, look better and run cleaner. Departing the Gnome machine was the next best thing to cutting all ties to Redmond.
  2. ObMenu. Really I should include this one together with Openbox, since it has little function outside of that window manager, and only applies to it. Editing XML is fun for some people, but when you just want to throw another application into the right-click menu, ObMenu is the next best thing to sliced bread. No Openbox setup should be without it. Installs in a flash, and needs very little support to get going. With a new and improved version of Openbox on the market, my fingers are crossed for an update — but it’s not critical.
  3. Kazehakase. So long as you get a version other than 0.4.2 (with that darned form submission bug), this is the Little Browser That Could. The more I use it, the more I love it. Fast and clean, with a lot of cool ideas that you won’t see in Firefox. You really have to explore it to appreciate it. Follows the GTK and icon theme you’re using, and can handle Flash and Java too. If you can look away from your Firefox extensions for a few minutes (and you should), you’ll quickly learn to love this too. Use it hand-in-hand with axel and you’ve got a fantastic pair.
  4. Xfe. I used to be a big PCManFM fan, and sometimes I still am. My problem with the latter is its dependence on FAM/gamin, and some occasional bugs that can make it a little quirky. On the other hand, Xfe does everything I need in a file explorer, and does it with much less. The Arch version comes with Xfi, Xfv and Xfw to boot — which means you get a text viewer, text editor and image management utilty as part of the deal. Bonus! Plus, icon themes are available, which means you don’t have to suffer the ugly default set. (And boy oh boy, is it ugly. … :shock: )
  5. Audacious. I’m old school, and I admit it. I don’t like music management suites. I manage my own music within the folders on my hard drive, and I don’t care what the cool kids are using to push around their stolen tunes. And so I use Audacious — because I just want something that plays music without getting all unnecessary. And since I was part of the early Winamp surge, Audacious’s style and layout are perfect for me.
  6. Pyburn. I just mentioned it today, but I’m sufficiently thrilled with it to give Graveman the boot and embrace Pyburn as my Next Big Thing. No frills, no bloat and the simplest, cleanest interface you’ll ever see. A full and complete “application” in the form of an 18Kb Python script. Awesome.
  7. Zim. I started using Zim when I realized that the Feisty speed guide was just too darned big to be practical for a blog post. After i got going with it, I started using it for other things too. Now it’s just a daily tool for any number of things, from my list of chores to the framework for a website. It’s a lovely, simple tool that does only one thing, but does it exceptionally well. I wish every application were like that.
  8. Mirage. For simple photo viewing, management, conversion and a few other tasks, Mirage is just right. And it’s so simple and lightweight that overlooking it would be a mistake. Some other packages might be more comprehensive, but I’m guessing those packages will take up more than a few hundred Kb on my system … especially when you figure in all that Gnome glut they include.
  9. MPlayer. I know some people think MPlayer is a bit obtuse, but I’ve tried quite a few movie players, and few of them seem as flexible and powerful as mplayer. When I can watch Casablanca on the framebuffer of a 200Mhz machine, I know I’ve found the playback application for me.
  10. mtPaint. The Gimp is much more powerful, but mtPaint is usually enough to satisfy my image editing needs. Handles layers, channels, gradients, rotation and flipping, color transformation and filter effects, and with a very slim profile. Again, a very clean, very fast application that doesn’t go overboard.
  11. VICE. I know, I date myself. But really, was there ever a better game than Pirates!?

Honorable mentions go to …

  • Leafpad, for being an adequate but sometimes infuriating text editor;
  • PCManFM, for being an innovative and admirable file manager, even if it does have a few faults;
  • ePDFView, for handling the job of PDF display with considerable pluck;
  • feh, for some excellent and fundamental image handling;
  • gcolor2, for stepping in when theming is the task at hand;
  • Deluge for being a solid GTK torrent application that does most everything you could want …
  • gtk-chtheme, for doing the job of gtk2-theme-switch about 10,000 times better;
  • and to XGalaga++, for wasting too much of my time. But to be honest, that’s a good thing. ;)
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1 Response to “The applications I can’t (won’t?) live without”


  1. 1 thealphanerd 2009/03/13 at 10:45 PM

    Have you tried Decibel yet? It uses the folder structure of your music, and GNOME deps are optional when you install the package. (the python-gnome stuff is suggested) Then it’s got all sorts of extra doohickeys through plug-ins.


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