Apps You’ll Want to Install on Linux/Ubuntu/Xubuntu

tl;dr: Type sudo apt-get install followed by the name of one of these apps to install it:

gedit, rar, libreoffice-common, vlc browser-plugin-vlc, mplayer, audacity, inkscape, youtube-dl, gparted, id3v2, lame, regexxer, gnome-do, udisks, terminator, arora

For example, to install Inkscape type:

$ sudo apt-get install inkscape

Before you go crazy installing apps

In case you missed my last blog post, the first thing you need to do is make sure your system is up-to-date with the online repositories by running the following command:

$ sudo apt-get update

Once you’ve done that, you are good to go and can start installing apps. Below is a list of the best apps to install on Xubuntu/Ubuntu/Linux. They are all free. Big hugs to open-source engineers!

For most of the apps listed below I explain how to install them via the terminal. A shortcut to open the terminal is ctrl-alt-t. Once it’s open type the command that you see in the grey box. Lets get started.

Sublime Text

Sublime Text is an open-source GNOME text editor.  It includes tools for editing source code and structured text such as markup languages.

$ wget -qO – https://download.sublimetext.com/sublimehq-pub.gpg | sudo apt-key add –
$ echo “deb https://download.sublimetext.com/ apt/stable/” | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/sublime-text.list
$ sudo apt-get install sublime-text

gEdit

gedit is another open-source GNOME text editor.

$ sudo apt-get install gedit

Mozilla Firefox

There are many reasons to use Firefox as opposed to Chrome.  For one, it’s a browser and simply a browser.  It’s run by a nonprofit organization and isn’t out solely to make money.  It embraces the open source mindset, which is the main reason to install Linux in the first place.  It cares about user privacy.  Also, Firefox is better for battery life.

Install Ublock origin, which is a Firefox plug-in that blocks tracking and ads.  It’s open source.

$ sudo apt-get install firefox

Rar

Rar is like a guy slut. It unzips everything it can get its hands on. For example, it can decompress CAB, GZIP, ACE and other archive formats.

$ sudo apt-get install rar

Calibre

Calibre is a powerful and easy to use e-book manager.

$ sudo apt-get install calibre

VLC

VLC is an open-source cross-platform multimedia player and framework which can also stream audio and video in a number of formats.  VLC offers support for advanced subtitles, full SSA compatibility, multi-track audio and playback speed control.  It rocks!

$ sudo apt-get install vlc browser-plugin-vlc

Shutter

A powerful screenshot tool, which not only allows you to take screenshots, of any part of screen, but also allows you to edit the captured image, adding text, hiding private content by pixelating, and upload an image to a hosting site.

$ sudo apt-get install shutter

Inkscape

Inkscape is an open-source vector graphics editor that can be used to create and edit vector graphics including illustrations, diagrams, line arts, charts, logos and complex paintings.  It’s the open-source equivalent to Adobe Illustrator.

$ sudo apt-get install inkscape

Gimp

GIMP is a free and open-source raster graphics editor used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, converting between different image formats, and more specialized tasks.  It’s the open-source equivalent to Adobe Photoshop.

$ sudo apt-get install gimp

YouTube

YouTube is… Shit, if you don’t know what YouTube is you need to get out from under that rock.

$ sudo apt-get install youtube-dl

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is an open source office suite forked from OpenOffice.org, which I actually like better. But the developers dised it. So LibreOffice it is. The LibreOffice suite includes programs for word processing, spreadsheets, slideshows, diagrams, drawings and databases. It’s the free version of Microsoft Office and even opens Microsoft generated files.

$ sudo apt-get install libreoffice-common

Skype

Skype can be found in the Canonical Partners repository, which makes it possible to install it without downloading the package from Skype.com.

$ sudo dpkg –add-architecture i386
$ sudo add-apt-repository “deb http://archive.canonical.com/ $(lsb_release -sc) partner”
$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install skype

SimpleNote

Simplenote is the best note-taking app for Linux right now. It provides all the features that a modern and professional note-taking app must have. This how it becomes the best Evernote alternative app for Linux. This simple and elegant app is designed and developed by the same company who developed WordPress – Best Blogging open source platform, Automattic, Inc.

Download it at simplenote.com.

FileZilla

FileZilla is one of the best and secured FTP client for all the major platforms like Linux, Unix, Windows, and MacOS. It supports large file transfers. There are lot more intuitive features available like bookmarking, drag-drop support, transfer queue and site management.

$ sudo apt install filezilla

Kupfer (optional)

Kupfer is an interface for quick and convenient access to applications and their documents.

https://kupferlauncher.github.io

Audacity (optional)

Audacity is a free, easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux and other operating systems. You can use it to record live audio, record computer playback, convert tapes and records into digital recordings or CDs, edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis sound files, cut, copy, splice or mix sounds together and change numerous effects including speed or pitch of a recording.

$ sudo apt-get install audacity

ID3v2 (optional)

ID3v2 is a tagging format for MP3 files.

$ sudo apt-get install id3v2

LAME (optional)

LAME is a high quality MPEG Audio Layer III (MP3) encoder licensed under the LGPL. That sounds really complicated, right?  Simply, it is considered the best MP3 encoder at mid-high bitrates and at VBR. I feel so geeky even copying and pasting this paragraph. On a more serious note, it is an encoder for MP3s. It turns .wav files into .MP3. .wav is always the middle man.

$ sudo apt-get install lame

mPlayer (optional)

MPlayer is an open-source media player. I like this explanation on ubuntuforums.org as to how it is different from VLC:
“I use both. Mplayer on my Mythbox since Mplayer can use CoreAVC which allows for multi-core video decoding, great for 1080p. I use VLC to play videos on my desktop. Mplayer seems to be like a swiss army knife, as in can do almost anything if you know how, and VLC is a normal knife, it is simple to use, but doesn’t come with a toothpick.”

$ sudo apt-get install mplayer

gParted (optional)

gParted is a free partition editor for graphically managing your disk partitions. With GParted you can resize, copy and move partitions without data loss.

$ sudo apt-get install gparted

GNOME Do (optional)

GNOME Do allows you to quickly search for many items present on your desktop or the web, and perform useful actions on those items. Wikipedia says “like other application launchers, it allows searching for applications and files, but it also allows specifying actions to perform on search results. GNOME Do allows for quick finding of miscellaneous artifacts of GNOME environment (applications, Evolution and Pidgin contacts, Firefox bookmarks, Rhythmbox artists and albums, and so on) and execute the basic actions on them (launch, open, email, chat, play, etc.).” So that’s it in a nutshell.

$ sudo apt-get install gnome-do

udisks (optional)

udisks is an abstraction for enumerating block devices and performing operations on them, such as creating file systems or mounting.

$ sudo apt-get install udisks

Terminator (optional)

Terminator is a GPL terminal emulator. It’s an efficient way of filling a large area of screen space with terminals. Basically, you can have multiple terminals in one window and use key bindings to switch between them. This is one my smart computer friend, Super K, says to install.

$ sudo apt-get install terminator

regexxer (optional)

Straight from SourceForge.net, regexxer is “a nifty GUI search/replace tool featuring Perl-style regular expressions. If you need project-wide substitution and you’re tired of hacking sed command lines together, then you should definitely give it a try.” Do what they say, mate.

$ sudo apt-get install regexxer

Arora (optional)

Arora is a cross platform web browser built using Qt and WebKit. It is what my school runs their knowledge base in.

$ sudo apt-get install arora

Python3-tk (optional)

This is for people who are running an app that my school offers because it needs python3 and tinkter.

$ sudo apt-get install python3-tk

zsh (optional)

The Z shell (zsh), according to Wikipedia is “a Unix shell that can be used as an interactive login shell and as a powerful command interpreter for shell scripting. Zsh can be thought of as an extended Bourne shell with a large number of improvements, including some features of bash, ksh and tcsh.” My friend Super K says “ditch bash and go to zsh!”. I do what he says. If you are curious how it works, check out this YouTube clip. I say it’s optional because it changes the terminal a bit.

$ sudo apt-get install zsh
$ sudo apt-get install git-core

According to this article on Github, you need to take further steps to get zsh to work on Ubuntu.

The article recommends you do this to install zsh:

wget https://github.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/raw/master/tools/install.sh -O – | zsh

Change your shell to zsh:

chsh -s `which zsh`

And then restart:

sudo shutdown -r 0

Note that when I tried this, it gave me an error. I ignored the error and it worked.

fasd (optional)

If you use your shell to navigate and launch applications, fasd can help you do it more efficiently. With fasd, you can open files regardless of which directory you are in. Just with a few key strings, fasd can find a “recent” file or directory and open it with command you specify.

Here are two references to check out:
https://github.com/clvv/fasd
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur81Y-mV5Us

Google Chrome

Installing Google Chrome is a little bit different. First you need to download the .deb file on Google’s site and then install it from Ubuntu’s Software Center. Here’s how.

1. Go to google.com/chrome
2. Click Download Chrome
3. Choose either 32 bit .deb (for 32bit Ubuntu) or 64 bit .deb (for 64bit Ubuntu)
4. Click Accept and Install
5. Download .deb file to a folder (Downloads is the default folder)
6. Open up your Downloads folder
7. Double-click the .deb file you just downloaded
8. This will launch Ubuntu Software Center. Click Install

Apps to download from the Ubuntu Software Center

There are some apps that are easier to install via Ubuntu’s Software Center. For example, Dropbox, FileZilla and Stellarium are the few that I prefer to install using the instructions below.

1. Click on the Xubuntu icon on the top left of your monitor
2. Choose Ubuntu Software Center.
3. Search for the app.
4. Click on the app’s image.
5. Click Install.

And there you have it. The most useful apps to run in Xubuntu/Ubuntu/Linux!

What to do after installing Xubuntu / Ubuntu / Linux

You just installed Xubuntu / Ubuntu / Linux on your machine. Now what?

The most important thing is to update your system via the apt-get update command in your shell. The reason is that you need to keep your system up to date with the latest packages.  I’m going to explain how to do this using Xubuntu as the sample operating system.

I’ll also tell you how to change the size of the terminal.

How to update your system

1. Open your shell/command prompt

a. Press ctrl-alt-t. Or you can click on the Xubuntu icon on the top left and choose Terminal Emulator.

2. Update

a. In the terminal, type sudo apt-get update.

$ sudo apt-get update

b. Press Enter.

See what happened below when I typed apt-get update instead of sudo apt-get update?  I got a “permission denied” error.  To fix it I included sudo before the command. Sudo means Super-User DO.  This tells the system “you will do this because I said so.”

c. Enter your password and press Enter.

d. Watch Xubuntu update like a speedy mofo…

3. Upgrade (optional, not recommended)

If you want to upgrade, type sudo apt-get upgrade.

$ sudo apt-get upgrade

I don’t recommend upgrading, as it is better to replace the whole operating system than patch upgrades together.

How to change the size of the terminal

a. Press Ctrl + Alt + t to open a terminal.
b. Go to Edit -> Preferences.
c. Click the Appearance tab.
d. Set the default geometry. I set mine to 165 columns and 40 rows.
e. You can also make the font bigger here.
 

extra somethin’-somethin’: wget

You can use the wget command to grab files from github and other locations if you want to use scripts that others have created.

How to create a bootable thumb drive with Rufus to install a program or operating system like Xubuntu / Ubuntu / Linux

The DVD I had to install Xubuntu wasn’t working.  So I was forced to learn how to create a bootable thumb drive.  Honestly, I avoided learning this forever because I thought it was going to be complicated.  It’s not! Now, while I explain how to create a bootable thumb drive / USB for Xubuntu, these steps can be applied to any program you want to install.

Before installing Linux on your computer, you should note:

Installing Linux on a machine that’s pre-installed with Windows voids the factory warranty. Therefore, you should create a recovery USB right away. That way if you experience any problems, you can reinstall Windows without having to buy a reinstallation USB (~$70) from the manufacture.

In Windows, ask Cortana how to “create a recovery USB.”  Your system will start the Recovery Drive and then ask you to insert a USB stick.  It has to be 8 GB or more.  The process takes about 30 minutes.

1. Download the ISO

a. Download a mirror from xubuntu.org/getxubuntu. This is the one I downloaded → xubuntu-20.04.1-desktop-amd64.iso.  It’s version 20.04.1 of Xubuntu.

Here’s how the difference between amd64 and i386 was explained to me:

“Amd64 means you can use more than 3.25GB of RAM. I386 means you are limited to 3.25GB of RAM. For Linux, it’s recommended to use AMD64 (unless your computer is over 5 years old…).”

2. Burn the ISO to a thumb drive

Use Rufus (only works in Windows), or another free app like Unetbootin, to burn the ISO to the thumb drive.  Since the title of this article is “How to create a thumb drive with Rufus” here’s how it’s done with, well, Rufus…

a. Download Rufus from https://rufus.akeo.ie. It’s free.

b. Insert your USB stick into the computer.

c. Double-click on the Rufus executable file.  (rufus-2.5.exe in this example)

d. Rufus will populate the fields.

e. Click the bootable disk icon.

f. Select the Xubuntu ISO file and click Open.

g. Now we are ready to rock & roll.  Click Start.

h. Click OK when this scary message appears.

i. Unless you have something special on your USB stick, click OK when this threatening message is displayed.

j. Kick it until Rufus is done doing its thing.

k. Move to step 3 once it’s done.  It will say “Ready.”

3. Boot the computer from the thumb drive

a. With the USB in, turn on the computer and press F12.  If F12 doesn’t work, try holding down the F2 key first and then power-on the computer. If that doesn’t work, Google “how to boot from a thumb drive.”  Include the make and model of your computer.

b. Choose the option that says boot from USB and click enter.

4. Install Xubuntu

a. Arrow down to “Install Xubuntu” and press Enter.

That’s it!  You are on your way to installing an awesome operating system!

extra somethin’-somethin’: Dual Boot Windows & Xubuntu

Here is an awesome website if you want step-by-step procedures on how to create a dual boot of Windows and Xubuntu:  http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/dual-boot-windows-7-xubuntu.html

 

Apple’s products are not as simple as you think

You click and the app you want launches.

You swipe and get groceries.

You press and take a selfie.

You don’t even need to be of age do to all of this.

Ah, the beauty of Apple products.  They are so undeniably user-friendly.

But are they really as simple as everyone thinks?

In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the first Apple Computer.  The computer was part of a counterculture, per Wikipedia, and was used to produce print-outs, letter labels and databases.  The original Apple 1 was actually a computer kit where buyers had to assemble everything on their own.

Somewhere along the way, this grassroots feeling was mowed down.  These home-brewed computers became factory prefabs.  In the transition from garages to manufacturing plants, along with other things, complexity was introduced to the equation.  Today, we aren’t brewing anything ourselves and have lost control of the thought to be simple devices.

It asks if we want to update.  We blindly click “Yes.” But what exactly is it doing in the background?  Do you have any idea?  Me neither.

On iTunes, we purchase something that we think is ours until we decide to switch to an Android and then – poof – it’s gone.  While this works for some people who want to buy all their products from one company, it doesn’t leave us any room to choose.  We are locked into Apple’s eco-system.

Sure the interface is super easy to use.  And Apple products always seem to work.  I’m actually writing this article on my MacBook (and I’m absolutely in love with my new iPhone).  But neither empower me as a user.  I don’t have control over my operating system nor my software nor my music or apps.

The fact is we as Apple users are in a closed system and have restricted use of our technology.  This keeps us dependent like a breastfeeding child.  What we believe to be our experience of technology isn’t really ours.  Everything is dictated by the mothership and we can not easily move to another mother.

From this standpoint, Apple and its products are not simple.

For a product to truly be simple, it must empower users.  In the case of technology, a simple product must allow us access to the source code so we can use and modify it for any purpose.  It must permit us to convert files to other formats so we don’t get locked into proprietary software.  Also, it must not have so many patents that others can’t develop something more innovative.  And so on.  You get the idea.

Sure, these suggestions are not as financially appetizing, especially for a company generating billions of dollars in revenue.  But from a standpoint of technology and human consciousness, empowering users can lead us to simplicity and possibly to an Age of Enlightenment.