Uncle Roger's
Linux Conversion

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 it.

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 the Internet.)

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 new laptop. 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, and e-mail me 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!

Windows Applications

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.

KOffice, StarOffice

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 updates.

Visual Basic
Microsoft's updated windows-y OOP basic. I occasionally use this professionally.



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 tap dance.)

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 format.


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 internet.

File Manager
The old Windows 3 style File Mangler. I'm used to the interface, and would just as soon stick wtih it.

MS-DOS Applications

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.

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