In late 1993, I began the search for a new laptop computer. I had
been using a Bondwell B310plus, a '286-based MS-DOS laptop with a
whopping 40mb hard drive and an almost excessive 1mb of memory. I was
able to load Timeslips (time billing software) and Sidekick as TSR's,
run Reflections (HP 3000 terminal emulator) and still drop to DOS to
use PC-Write for taking notes or writing.
I was about to embark, however, a project that required a pretty peppy
Windows machine -- for the time. I needed at least a 486-33, with at
least 8mb of memory, running Windows for Workgroups 3.11. So it was
time for a new computer.
After much comparison shopping and magazine browsing, I settled on my
current laptop, an AMS TravelPro 5300, sporting a blazingly fast
'486DX2-66. I went all out on the memory and hard drive -- 16MB and
340MB, respectively -- but skimped a bit on the screen and got a
monochrome system. All told, it came to over $3,000, but it was worth
Jump forward to mid-1999, and that laptop now has 32MB of memory, 2GB
of onboard disk space (plus 3GB of SCSI disk space at home), three
docking stations, nearly a dozen batteries, four power supplies, an
external battery charger, and more. I also have three identical
backup machines, purchased used over the years. (One is currently
running Linux and serves as the gateway between my home network and
But it also lacks a sound card, the floppy drive died a long time ago,
and the screen looks awful small and bland these days. So once again,
it's time for a
This time, however, I don't want a Windows machine; I want to run
Linux full-time if possible.
Unfortunately, the Real World still manages to rear its ugly head, and
I have to do more than play MP3's and place bids on eBay. Now, I know
I can do everything I need to under Linux; I just
don't know how to do it.
That's where you come in. I've compiled a list of the software I
currently use most often under MS-DOS and Windows, (as much for my
reference as for this project,) along with descriptions of what those
programs do, and any Linux versions I'm aware of. Look over the list,
with your suggestions for Linux replacements.
Note that the most important programs are listed in
Strong text, and known Linux applications are
emphasized. I am not set on any of the Linux programs I know
of, so feel free to suggest alternatives that you prefer. Please
include URL's whenever possible so I can actually find the software
you mention. Thanks!
The applications that I use under windows I do so because the GUI
offers a definite increase in efficiency or functionality. Therefore,
I would like to find replacements for these applications that run
under X-windows, preferably under KDE (which is what I've gotten used
to so far.)
A sort of control panel that replaces the program manager. Kind
of like that MS Office thing, only better. Frequently used
programs are one click away; windows program groups become drop
down menus. Also includes printer management, resource info, etc.
- Issue Manager
A project management utility that lets you track multiple tasks
with different statuses.
- Microsoft Excel
Spreadsheet. I don't necessarily need Microsoft compatibility,
but I would like to be able to convert my existing spreadsheets.
- Microsoft Word
I use Word a fair bit. Compatibility is not necessarily
required, but it would sure make my life easier.
KOffice, StarOffice, WordPerfect
- Intuit Quicken
I don't use this too often, but I should. I would like to be
able to import my existing quicken files as well as use
Checkfree. This will probably end up on a dedicated Quicken
machine running windows for my wife.
- Time and Chaos
A PIM with a cool name. It has Calendar/Appointment functions
as well as address books and a to-do list.
- Edge Diagrammer
Flowcharting software. Didn't see the need for it in high
school and college; it's turned out to be a big help when
figuring out 20,000 lines of spaghetti code.
- Programmer's File Editor
Fantastic editor. Handles plain text and is quick and lean.
- Search and Replace
Searches through multiple files for a specified string and,
optionally, replaces it with another. Great for global web site
- Visual Basic
Microsoft's updated windows-y OOP basic. I occasionally use this
Checks your bookmark file for changed or broken web pages.
- Eudora Pro
E-mail. Handles multiple e-mail accounts, filters messages, and
more. Far more features than what I've seen from others, and a
much better interface.
- Free Agent
Usenet News reader. Great interface.
Incredibly easy to use FTP program.
Hewlett-Packard terminal emulation. Note that HP terminals are
not VT-100 or ANSI terminals. They are unique to HP and a
virtual necessity for HP 3000 connectivity. Without
this functionality, I could not even think of switching fully to
Linux. This is (mostly) what I do for a living.
IRC client. Used it once, may use it again, could definitely
live without it.
The web browser. Runs on Linux already. Yay!
- GIF Construction Set
Makes it easy to construct animated gifs. Not that I use them
much, but every once in a while, they're useful. (And someday,
I'm going to find the time to build that animated dictionary of
- LView Pro
Image viewer with basic editing capabilities. Crop, resize,
color adjustments, just the basics, but boy are they necessary!
Okay, so I've only used it once. But it was fun. And I got
paid for it.
- Paint Shop Pro
Full-featured image editing. I wish I could actually make more
use of this, but I just don't have the skills or talent. Still,
I use it for scanning and some basic image editing.
Sound and Music
- Jupiter CD Player
CD Player with database. Would like to move up to something
that can access the CDDB (or its freer replacement).
- As You Like It
Book reader. Not a necessity, but I would like to find
something that lets you read on-line, especially if it can
display the words one after the other centered in the screen.
- HTML Reference Library
This is an HTML reference in Windows Help format. I'd love to
find a small, portable, easy to use reference in, say, HTML
- Acrobat Reader
Adobe's fancy-schmancy document viewer. For all the effort it
must take, I'd just as soon have HTML documents, but of course
there are those who still use Acrobat.
Really nice calculator with financial functions and RPN. I
would love to find an HP-11C/12C emulator.
- Atomic Clock
Updates the system time to match one of the atomic clocks on the
- File Manager
The old Windows 3 style File Mangler. I'm used to the
interface, and would just as soon stick wtih it.
These applications don't need, and in some cases would suffer from, a
graphical user interface. Of course, they do need to work in a
terminal window within X-windows, since I am rarely working on only
one thing at a time.
DOS-based word processor. This is still what I do 99% of my
HTML coding in. Absolutely a necessity.
I've got some applications written in-house in QBasic. Sure,
I'll get them ported to Java one of these days, but that's right
after somebody figures out how to get 48 hours into each day.
In the meantime, I still need to run these apps.
Time and Billing. Enter what you did, how long you did it for,
who you did it to, and it prints invoices for you. It can also
act as a timer if you want exact time. It tracks different
rates for different clients, projects, and activities, and has
a pretty flexible report writer. I gotta get paid!
Keyboard macro program. The best feature of this program is
the "SuperShift" key -- one key that acts as another shift-type
key (although in sequence with other keys, rather than
simultaneously). You could press the SuperShift key than, say,
C, and it would be just like you had typed "cat * | grep 'fred'"
only it could pause and prompt you for the filespec and search
string, or increment counters, or set variables... A great
program if someone needs an idea of something to work on.
TSR thesaurus. It stays in memory, and pops up when a
particular key combination is pressed, offering synonyms,
antonyms, and the like for whatever word the cursor is on.
Incredibly handy if you do any kind of writing.