Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

Assorted Desktop Packages

Here is some desktop software that is either commonplace in the world of Linux or needs a bit more publicity, at least in my opinion. The list is sorted alphabetically, in case you are left wondering at its first entry. As with everything in this place, it may grow or contract, but change certainly is a feature of the world of Linux anyway. That’s never a bad thing, even if it upsets some from time to time.


This suite comes from the KDE project and includes office and graphical software. The latter includes Krita, which is described separately below, so this is an interesting collection of software.


Linux does have a choice of Twitter/X clients and this is one of them. It’s a KDE application that also supports Pump.IO, GNU Social and Friendica instances. There are others on the support list too, though Mastodon is a surprising absence given the recent furore surrounding Twitter/X.


The name is a play on that of Adobe’s Lightroom, and that gives you an idea of what it is about. This too allows non-destructive editing of images with the added information being kept in associated files with XMP extensions, one for each image. What the software does not have though is an image management interface like that of Lightroom or digiKam.


This is more than an organiser, and may be the KDE project’s counterpart to Adobe’s closed source Lightroom. Its photo organising doesn’t mean automated folder creation from EXIF information like F-Spot, Shotwell or Rapid Photo Downloader. It is for that reason that I combine digiKam with the last entry on the preceding list, since I jumped ship from Shotwell. The image processing part of the application is something that I have to explore.


Other IDE’s have taken over me these days, but this had a use for editing PHP scripts once upon a time. It is better known for what it offers Java developers, though.


A long-standing UNIX/Linux text editor that has been doing battle with Vi for longer than many can remember. Like the alternative, it has keyboard shortcuts that do anything but make concessions to Windows conventions, add needless steepening of any learning curve unless you find the appropriate option (CUA) that allows for some emulation of mainstream keyboard shortcuts. Nevertheless, there also is a GUI variant that makes life easier, and I have to concede that it has a history that is longer than even Microsoft itself. As if that weren’t enough compensation, it is a powerful piece of software whose functionality goes much further than text editing, whose surface I have only barely begun to scratch. The logic of the interface may differ from that to which many are accustomed, but it is consistent and well-thought-out nonetheless.


For a while, this was my photo organiser of choice, but it has not seen a new release since December 2010. Maybe that’s because it works well enough as it is, yet you cannot help thinking that a project with no new releases is a dead one, even if that sometime reflects how right they got things at the time.


Before my quest for added automation took over, this was my FTP client of choice, and its advent has made the need to buy such software extinct. That it works on both Windows and Linux is a bonus.


The ubiquitous Photoshop challenger is maturing nicely, though its interface may not please some.


This is very like ImageMagick (see below) with its main selling point being that it’s faster than its parent for the purpose of command line image editing; my own testing seems to support this so far. The commands that you use are similar to ImageMagick too, apart mainly from adding the gm command before the likes of convert and others. Speaking of convert, the GraphicsMagick version has yet to support the -annotate switch, so -draw needs to be used in its place.


Using a command line tool for image processing may seem counter-intuitive, but there are operations where you need not have much user intervention. Included among these is image resizing and conversion between file formats, and yours truly has done both. Processing many files at a stroke comes naturally to this very useful and talented piece of software, too.


Software media centres lie largely beyond my purview, but this seems to be one of the better known of the breed. It overlays the desktop when it is running and caters for consumption of music, movies, TV, photo slideshows and games. Controversially, there even is PVR capability for recording live broadcasts as well.


For those with a more artistic bent, this is a digital drawing and illustration package that will work not only on Linux but also on Windows or OS X. The results can be striking, so it looks as if your talent may be the only limitation with this tool.


Oracle’s takeover of Sun Microsystems meant that some feathers were ruffled in the open-source and free software community, and one example of a change coming from this is the forking of OpenOffice. It is that act that has brought LibreOffice into being, and it then gained so much ground that it eclipsed its parent.


Mozilla may promote their wares as bing privacy-friendly, yet others are not sure, so Firefox has been forked to give LibreWolf. This removes telemetry, adds a content blocker along with other enhancements.

Mozilla Firefox

There’s no way that I could not include what once was the de facto standard web browser for Linux, though there’s competition from Chrome/Chromium now too. There is also a mobile version for phones running the Android OS.

Mozilla SeaMonkey

The original Mozilla suite still lives on, and this is what it’s called nowadays.

Mozilla Thunderbird

This has replaced Evolution on Linux systems that I use, and it comes close to eclipsing Microsoft Outlook everywhere else, too.


The main function of this piece of software is to record broadcast TV, hence that part of the name. It also has media playback capability, and that is what makes it more of a media centre than the digital video recording functionality may suggest.


UNIX/Linux offers plenty of text editors, so here’s another of the less well-known ones that I have encountered. Syntax highlighting is part of the offer and some menu customisation is possible too. In essence, it is a straightforward text editor that works with Windows keyboard shortcuts, but that can be no bad thing.


You cannot feature Eclipse in a software listing without having NetBeans too. In fact, it was NetBeans that I first encountered, and that was many moons ago. There is a PHP variant available, but that seemed very sluggish when I tried it and turned back to Eclipse, with which I have stuck ever since. That poor performance may have been caused by the variant of Java that was available to it, so I may give it another ago when I have the time.

OBS Studio

Here, OBS stands for Open Broadcaster Software, and that somewhat says what it does. In essence, we are talking about video recording and live-streaming. With the increasing pervasiveness of video like what once was the case with photography, it is easy to see the use case for this kind of software.

Is this the office suite of choice for Linux? It certainly felt that way before Oracle bought Sun Microsystems and upset a few open-source developers. Now, the appearance of LibreOffice is going to make things look a little more interesting.


This is a far more user-friendly way to run Windows software on Linux, using the WINE libraries in the background. The name seems to originate from game playing, though web browsers like Internet Explorer and Safari are available too, along with a selection of other software. For the adventurous, there also is the possibility of installing something you have yourself.


Here’s the description from the website:

Privoxy is a non-caching web proxy with advanced filtering capabilities for enhancing privacy, modifying web page data and HTTP headers, controlling access, and removing ads and other obnoxious Internet junk.

It’s available for a number of platforms, including Linux and UNIX, and offers a way of blocking ads in Google Chrome, which is how I got to hear about it. Ubuntu users can snag a copy from the usual repositories too.

Configuration is by editing text files, but the default settings have sufficient so far. Setting a browser to use it means searching through settings for the means of making it use IP address and port 8118 for ordinary and secure HTTP connections.

Rapid Photo Downloader

When Shotwell, started to fail to download photos from ever larger memory cards, it was time to look at something else and this became the replacement. You can use it to copy images from any card reader into the directory structure of your choosing. It does nothing more than downloading, and it does it so well that it merits a mention on here.


This was my photo library manager of choice until its limitations when it came to handling large data volumes came to light. It is written for the GNOME desktop environment and worked well for a few years before technology overtook it. Still, it also offers limited photo editing capabilities to go with its organising skills.


This reader and manipulator of raw digital camera image formats acts either alone or as a plugin. It can be used via the command line or using a GUI. That makes it flexible for those times when you need things to happen without much input from yourself.


All in all, this is an excellent piece of virtualisation software that makes you wonder why you’d pay for something like VMware Workstation. There is a closed source variant, but the open-source equivalent has what you’d want for personal use anyway. Windows 11 support took a while to come into place because of its TPM requirements, but that is steady these days.


Since the widely used VSCode is so available and appears to be open-source in nature, one does wonder why this project exists. Here is their take on that conundrum:

Microsoft’s VSCode source code is open source (MIT-licensed), but the product available for download (Visual Studio Code) is licensed under this not-FLOSS licence and contains telemetry/tracking. According to this comment from a Visual Studio Code maintainer:

When Microsoft builds Visual Studio Code, we do exactly this. They clone the VSCode repository, they lay down a customized product.json that has Microsoft-specific functionality (telemetry, gallery, logo, etc.), and then produce a build that we release under their licence.

When you clone and build from the VSCode repo, none of these endpoints are configured in the default product.json. Therefore, you generate a “clean” build, without the Microsoft customisations, which is by default licensed under the MIT licence.

The VSCodium project exists so that you don’t have to download and build from source. This project includes special build scripts that clone Microsoft’s VSCode repo, run the build commands, and upload the resulting binaries for you to GitHub releases. These binaries are licensed under the MIT licence. Telemetry is disabled.

If you want to build from source yourself, head over to Microsoft’s VSCode repo and follow their instructions. VSCodium exists to make it easier to get the latest version of MIT-licensed VS Code.


This is a fork of Firefox that claims to be faster and more private. From my brief test, it certainly feels faster, though I was not as able to test things on the privacy end.

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