Last year, I decided I would start solely using Ubuntu as the primary OS on my laptop. But the lack of printer support, and hiccups here and there in Ubuntu unfortunately catapulted me back to Windows 7. As my classes right now are requiring students to SSH into university servers to submit homework, I thought I might as well start getting used to bash and Linux again.
There are many suitable Linux distros that are easy to pick up for Windows users, such as Ubuntu, PinguyOS, Zorin, etc. I’ve been calling Linux Mint my main OS, an experience which has absolutely blown my mind. Linux Mint simply works beautifully, without any of the quirks that drove me up the wall in Ubuntu. However, I have observed that there are no alternatives (yet) for some of the programs that I call indispensable and have grown to love in Windows.
There might be Linux alternatives for the products on this list, but the Windows counterparts are simply equipped with more and better features at times, leaving much to be desired of the few programs that are in fact, available for Linux. Wine and PlayOnLinux might provide some hope to Linux users who swear by certain programs or services, but they don’t always guarantee complete relief. At least for me, the following programs sadly don’t work as well, if at all, when I run them with Wine.
To say that this program makes blogging a breeze is an understatement. Windows Live Writer is a superb product with many ridiculously useful features. It supports pasting of screenshots, keyboard shortcuts for the most common tasks, and plenty of other features that make it work as smoothly as can be.
I discovered this tool back when Mahendra rounded up the top 5 Microsoft products 2 years ago. I was fed up with WordPress sometimes losing my almost-finished drafts so I gathered some courage and tried the highly-rated program. Little did I know it would become one my absolute favorite products released by Microsoft. As Mahendra said, if you are a blogger and are not using Windows Live Writer, you are seriously wasting your time.
Evernote is a must-have for anyone with ideas to jot down, pictures of places, food, etc. to take, audio to record, etc. It’s like your second brain, except it will remember anything and it is available for a number of devices. Like I’ve said before, Evernote’s desktop client for Windows or Mac can serve a multitude of purposes, including being your email client, photo journal program, quick screenshot utility, and more. Perhaps one of my favorite features is that it allows you to paste clipboard images.
Now I know NixNote (formerly Nevernote) is a cool, unofficial project that aims to bring an Evernote client for Linux, and that may even work wonders for you. However, in my machine, NixNote is on the slower side and it doesn’t sync back to Evernote servers very well. On the other hand, NixNote lets you change colors in your notes, rotate images, hide notebooks and unused tags, and many other tasks that aren’t available in Evernote.
Any PDF Annotator (e.g. PDF-XChange Viewer)
I know PDF files aren’t meant to be edited, but when all your professors do is publish PDF slides instead of giving you handouts anymore, sometimes you just need a program to annotate these slides. Foxit Reader has been ported to Linux but it’s really only for viewing PDF files, not for annotating anything. The default GNOME PDF viewer, Evince, does fine reading PDFs as well, but it doesn’t support small annotations, while Okular does allow you to review the files (with annotations) but it doesn’t let you save annotations to the actual files.
It’s a bit ridiculous that there are many PDF editors available for Windows, but all you can do in Linux is face the many limitations or figure out unsatisfying workarounds, like using Xournal to convert PDFs to images (which it does fine but it’s not the seamless experience I was looking for), Inkscape to add text (but only one page at a time), or PDFEdit which does allow edits but is so not user-friendly. I guess the best you can do for now in Linux is either run PDF-XChange Viewer via Wine (embracing the Windows 98 toolbar look), use Okular to read annotations or use web-based PDF editors.
What are some great programs, or even services (ahem, Netflix, anyone?) that you Linux users absolutely miss from Windows? Let us know in the comments below!
Image credit: phauly
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