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Last time, we covered Linux applications for creating content Getting Stuff Done on Linux [Part 1] Getting Stuff Done on Linux [Part 1] Read More . Today we will be covering organizational and web-based programs for Linux.

The Series of Tubes*

We all use the internet. I’m sure anyone reading this has also heard of Firefox but do you know about all the others? Konqueror is a nice browser based on the KHTML rendering engine, the same great engine Safari and WebKit use, which means it supports a few things (like drop-shadows on text) which no other browsers do. Then there’s Epiphany, which will display pages the same way Firefox does, but which fits the look ‘n feel of GNOME environments a bit better than Firefox 2.0 does (Firefox 3, however, fits very well). There are also lightweight browsers like Kazehakase you might like. Firefox is by far the most extensible, though.

Instant Messaging

Pidgin Logo For text-based instant messaging, nothing beats Pidgin‘s flexibility. It can handle AIM, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo, Gadu-Gadu, QQ, SIMPLE, Bonjour, Novell Groupwise, XMPP and Google Talk (aka Jabber), Zephyr, Sametime, and even MySpaceIM. If you haven’t heard of half of those anywhere else, I’m with you, but from what I’ve heard it seems they are each varyingly popular in different parts of the world. As with OpenOffice, it’s cross-platform (Win, Mac, Linux), so transitioning can be easy. The Mac OSX version is called Adium. If you want to add voice or video chat capability, Skype 2.0 for Linux does have video support (older versions did not).

Skype 2.0 - Now with Video Support for Linux

Kopete can also do voice/video on many protocols, while aMSN is a very close clone to Microsoft’s MSN. Yahoo and AOL have also both made native Linux versions of their software available. Finally, there are SIP phones, such as Ekiga and OpenWengo. OpenWengo is available for OSX and Windows too, so you can try that out without switching as well.

Staying Organized

Mozilla’s mail client, Thunderbird is, like the Firefox it’s built upon, available on pretty much everything. It’s not only an email client, but a newsreader as well. Like Firefox, there are plenty of extensions 10 must-have Thunderbird Addons (+ 25 more) 10 must-have Thunderbird Addons (+ 25 more) Read More available to add extra functionality. If your office requires that you be able to reach Exchange to get your mail, Evolution may be what you need.

Evolution

It can use the Exchange web interface as a backend. Evolution and Thunderbird both have built-in address books, and Evolution has a calendar. Evolution is GNOME’s built-in PIM or groupware. To add a calendar to Thunderbird, just install its extension, Lightning.

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One thing I really do have to give Apple credit for is their suite of tools: iCal, Mail, and Address Book. These three applications share a backend so that they can all access each others’ data, so you can use names from Address Book in both Mail and iCal. I really like how they are separate but integrated, instead of being monolithic like Evolution. KDE has a similar suite, KDEPIM, which you can access as if it was a monolithic app through Kontact or as its individual parts, KAddressBook, KMail, and KOrganizer (the calendar). The advantage is that you can run one at a time. If you’re like me and like running separate programs for separate tasks, you might like Mozilla Sunbird. GMail and Google Calendar also can cover this territory while letting you keep your calendars nicely synced wherever you go.

Students

For students, Tomboy is a wonderful little note-taking app. It behaves like a wiki, allowing you to link your notes together, so looking up keywords becomes easy. You can also see what notes refer to the one you are on, since that is tracked as well. There are even options to export notes to HTML and sync your notes between different computers.

Tomboy - Note Taking Application for Linux

As of the latest release, notes can be organized into separate notebooks, so your History notes aren’t mixed in with Discrete Math.

BasKet is a similar program with a bit more flexibility on the layout of notes. While Tomboy is aimed at pure simplicity, BasKet goes full-stop to provide all the features you could think of, making it a good replacement for OneNote.

In my team project development class, my team’s lead has been using a program called Planner. I haven’t used it much, but from watching her use it, it seems to be just the thing for project management. There are a few different views available, but perhaps the most useful one is the Gantt Chart, which lets you map out what tasks need to be completed, their subtasks, and how long that will all likely take to get a reasonable timeline for the project. Tasks can be assigned to team members, and you can monitor what percent of each task has been done to adjust your time frame accordingly. It can also track resource usage. There’s probably more I haven’t noticed, but all I’ve done is look over her shoulder and poke at it a few times.

* If you don’t know about the series of tubes, please refer to this episode of the Daily Show wherein US Sen. Ted Stevens, head of the Senate Commerce Committee (the guys that regulate internet commerce laws in the US), described the internet as a series of tubes.

Mackenzie is a college student who likes to promote Linux and Free/Libre Software. Most of her free time is spent on the computer, helping new users, or hanging out with some of the friends she’s made in the Linux community. Check out her blog, Ubuntu Linux Tips & Tricks.

  1. ikaruga3064
    March 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    To be fair, Linux does not really have an answer to Outlook. The problem is with Microsoft Access compatibility. Only Evolution has support for it and it's spotty at best.

    Kahezake is just FireFox 2 minus the bloat. Firefox 3 gives better performance on my computer. I never really found a use for Tomboy or Basket. A better solution is to setup a personal wiki on the internet through one of those free services (or on your own server) -- that way, you have your notes where ever you go.

  2. anonymous
    March 20, 2008 at 4:16 am

    Skype is not free/libre software as far as i can tell. For this reason it is not included in many package managers (eg Fedora, debian etc). Also the use of a central login computer is somewhat disturbing - certainly not something that is well aligned with free/libre type software.

    Don't forget skype were found by a court in germany to be in breach of the GPL when distributing skype-phones. http://www.golem.de/0707/53684.html

    Don't want to complain, but I feel the article should be clear on what is libre and not if it uses the tagline "... promote Linux and Free/Libre Software...."

    • Aibek
      March 20, 2008 at 11:16 am

      Thanks for the link, do you know if it's available in English ? Ich spreche ein bischein Deutch aber das ist night genug for dieser Abschnitt ;-)

    • Mackenzie Morgan
      March 20, 2008 at 12:24 pm

      Yeah, the options for video phone on *any* OS are:
      - Learn to forward your router's ports & use SIP
      - Use Skype & never know if you're being man-in-the-middle attacked

  3. Brainiac
    March 19, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Thanks, Tomboy is pretty cool. Also checked out some Basket screenshots, maaan it looks complicated. Definitely not for dummies like me. :-)

    Nice article.

  4. Travis Quinnelly
    March 18, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Nice finds!

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