Programs I use, and why

[This page is under heavy development - Think of it as a beta]

I intent to make a kind of list of free software programs I use for different tasks, mentioning alternatives when pertinent, and giving reasons why I use what I use.

This section is actually for self reference, because I keep asking myself once in a "why don't I use this or that program that looks so good?". Anyway, it might make for interesting reading for any GNU/Linux user.


Desktop environment


I use Xfce. People (even its developers) insist that its best pro is speed. I don't agree: I use it for style and looks.


  • It is clean and simple, with minimal bloat, yet good looking


  • Speed. I don't know why, but starting it takes ages. More than KDE even. And afterwards, opening apps takes as long as with any other DE


  • KDE. The upcoming KDE4 looks really good, but up to now I find it bloated and cursi (affected or pretentious)


Image viewer


I use Eye of GNOME. It is the image viewer I feel most comfortable with. See Wikipedia Comparison of image viewers


  • It reads most file formats
  • It resizes the image automatically to fit the window
  • Zooming and rotating is fast and easy


  • There are some formats it can't read properly (SVG, for example)
  • It is a bit in the slow side for the first load


  • display (imagemagick). It reads more formats than EoG does, and is a bit faster, but transformations are slow, interaction is painful, and automatic resizing is not possible.


e-mail client


I HATE all GNU/Linux e-mails clients I have laid my hands on. They all suck at some random (and different) detail on handling IMAP (at least Gmail one), which is the only thing I care about when talking about e-mail. They are all 95% "good", but the missing 5% is usually a showstopper. I am seriously considering using the Gmail web interface, but usually what I do is switch dump a client for the next one in the list when I get fed up about it. And so on, and so forth...

See Wikipedia Comparison of e-mail clients


  • Mozilla Thunderbird. Quite fast managing folders/tags, and you can move posts around quite OK. The "only" problem is that the Delete function is f*cked up. There is no way to move deleted messages to the Gmail Trash (yes, I tried the "Advanced Config" solution explained all over the net, and it didn't work for me). You can just remove the message completely, or move it to a custom Trash folder. The problem is that this, for Gmail, equates to switching the current tag for the "Custom trash dir" tag, which will not remove the other tags the message could have, thus not really deleting it.
  • Evolution. I once called it app of the week, and I'm using it right now. Update: it seems to suffer from the same Deletion problems as TB. Evolution seems to understand that "Delete" means "Remove current tag". I agree that there should be an "untag" function, but not called "Delete". Maybe called "Untag"? A message tagged "Personal" and "John Doe" will appear in these two folders, plus in "All Mail". If accessed in "Personal" and Deleted with Evolution, the "Personal" tag will be removed. However, it will still appear in "John Doe" and "All Mail". OTOH, if you move the message from the "Personal" folder to Gmail "Trash", the message will be removed from ALL freaking folders/tags. This is what I call "Delete", for $GOD's sake!! I can not understand why the "Del" key in my keyboard, or the "Delete" button in the Evolution window will perform the "Untag" action, but for really deleting I have to use the mouse and move a file from a folder to another one. There should be a more immediate way to do it, please!
  • KMail. It is very nice, and starts fast, and seems light on resources, but... its management of IMAP folders is rather slow (See this post ).
  • Claws Mail. I seem to recall it had a problem with non-ASCII chars in message titles. I will report back here when/if I dump it again.




I use Konsole. It has everything I need.


  • Tabbed
  • Ultra-configurable
  • Bookmarks to open terminals in other machines or given dirs with a single click


  • Could be faster to load
  • Some bugs at configuring, e.g. transparent background (which I don't use)



Web browser


I use Firefox. See also Comparison of web browsers at Wikipedia.


  • All the features I want
  • All features you can think of through addons


  • Slow startup
  • Sometimes eats up CPU/RAM for no reason


  • Konqueror. The idea of "all-in-one", web browser, file manager and file viewer for a desktop (KDE) seems infortunate to me. When I use it, most of the time I don't know what I'm doing, and the interface should be different for browsing and file managing.
  • Epiphany. It's certainly fast, but lacks features. And its looks are horrible, please.
  • Opera. Nice browser, but it is proprietary, and this sucks.


Photograph collection manager


See also List of image organizers at Wikipedia.

I use digiKam. I have used it and F-Spot, and I like this one better.



Office suite


I use It's very complete, although slow and heavy. See also Comparison of office suites at Wikipedia.


  • It's full of features. It has all I need


  • Slow on startup
  • A bit bloated
  • I haven't managed to generate "default" styles (e.g. for spreadsheets)


  • KOffice
    • PROs: you can easily generate default styles for documents
    • CONs: it's not possible to "select all cells". It's not possible to write superscripts or subscripts, and I use them a lot (e.g. CO2).




I use Deluge, which is a very nice BitTorrent client. See also List of BitTorrent clients at Wikipedia.


  • KTorrent
    • PROs:

    • Nice and intuitive graphical interface
    • Has most features I need/want: limiting up/down rates at will, limiting up/down rates per torrent, display of current rates, ETAs, sizes, etc. per torrent...


    • Previous versions were a bit buggy. Latest (as of Jan 2008), hasn't crashed on me yet
    • Uploads are slow when donwloads are going on (for no reason)
    • Statistics are limited
    • Total uploaded/downloaded amount of data is reseted at closing. You can not have "historic" up/down totals
  • aMule. Not BT, but eD2K
  • Azureus. It has a nice GUI, and the features are great, having even historic statistics. However it is extremely heavy on computer resources. It is a pain in the *ss to run, put bluntly.
  • Transmission. Looks good. Haven't given it a serious try, because KTorrent works so well


Feed reader


I use Akregator. See also List of feed aggregators at Wikipedia.



File manager


I use Thunar, the default FM of Xfce. It is really fast, and gives me all I ask of it.


  • Konqueror
  • Nautilus


Music player


I use Amarok.


  • XMMS

Document readers

I use Evince.



Graphical FTP


I use gFTP.


  • Kbear


Disk usage analyzers


I use Filelight.


  • Baobab

6 thoughts on “Programs I use, and why

  1. You may wish to look at Filezilla for FTP, and PCManFM for file management. I prefer GQView for image viewing, it’s alot like ACDSee on Windows, though gThumb is the only decent one I’ve found that supports animated GIFs. Deluge-Torrent and Transmission are both nice GTK BitTorrent clients. SwiftFox will give you the functionality of Firefox, with CPU-optimised instructions for speed, however the versions based on FF3 don’t support font smoothing yet. You can install “branch” (ie: Firefox 2) builds from the website and deb repository at Oh yes, and XMMS has been deserted for a long time now, Audacious is a nice, stable and full-featured alternative :)

  2. Great contribution, Super Jamie! I'll take a look at the programs you mention. You're apparently more GNOME-oriented than KDE-oriented, right?

  3. Yeah, I'm definitely a big GNOME & GTK fan :)

    I'm also looking forward to the next version of XFCE, which looks like it'll use libwnck instead of libnetk, and hence have proper multi-monitor support.

  4. Both glass pieces have magnetic strips on their edges to hold them together and also act as bearers to make sure stamp dies are a uniform thickness.

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