In Linux, you can…

Choose from a very wide range of software in certain application areas. For instance, the range of text editors and HTML editors is larger than in other systems. I’m comparing the free Linux applications to the non-free Windows applications. If you count only free applications on both systems, the difference is even greater.


Most (many?) major programming languages are available on Linux, at no cost. These versions of the programming languages are either similar to or superior to the versions found on other systems, for the most part, as far as I can tell. (There will be exceptions, and I’ll let the trolls point them out).

A lot of the standard software that people have heard of, such as the applications that come with Microsoft Office, have “equivalents” in Linux. They are not exactly the same, though. The Linux apps are generally better. They load faster, they are more reliable, they read and write to a wider range of formats, they are less annoying, generally better designed. Plus, you can run most or all of the Microsoft Office applications on a Linux computer (this may not apply to the most recent versions of Office … that depends on when you read this!).

There are a number of cool Linux applications that you only have available on Linux, that are in my view far superior to any other similar software on any other system, and are free and run more reliably. Two examples are Gnumeric, a spreadsheet, and Xara Xtreme, an excellent vector based drawing package.

Comments

  1. #1 Virgil Samms
    February 15, 2008

    These versions of the programming languages are either similar to or superior to the versions found on other systems, for the most part, as far as I can tell. (There will be exceptions, and I’ll let the trolls point them out).

    As you wish. VMS FORTRAN 77 was widely considered to be the finest version of FORTRAN ever produced, and is held up by many historians as the apex of Western civilization.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2008

    For those who have no idea what Virgil is talking about, he’s referring to an implementation of fortran developed for VMS, a pretty cool operating system use on various DEC and HP work stations. I don’t know how many machines are out there running this system.

    Fortran 77 was implemented on Linux, and as far as I know, it is one of the more commonly used forms of Fortran on Linux.

  3. #3 Anonymous coward
    February 15, 2008

    Are you sure you mean programming languages, and not programming tools?

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2008

    Coward: Please expand on that, sounds interesting!

  5. #5 Armchair Dissident
    February 15, 2008

    Most (many?) major programming languages are available on Linux, at no cost. These versions of the programming languages are either similar to or superior to the versions found on other systems, for the most part, as far as I can tell. (There will be exceptions, and I’ll let the trolls point them out).

    I can think of one obvious exception: the C#.NET implementation on Windows is better than the C# Mono implementation of C#.NET.

    This is, however, not a bad thing for Linux…!

  6. #6 Anonymous Coward
    February 15, 2008

    C is C.

    gcc == free compiler
    icc == [kinda] non-free compiler

    Kdevelop == free IDE
    Visual Studio == non-free IDE

    Think ALGOL ;)

  7. #7 Virgil Samms
    February 15, 2008

    Here’s what I need a utility to do:

    Given a start date, and a number of days, tell me the date I will be next eligible to donate blood.

    Can Linux do that?

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    February 15, 2008

    I think you can do that in awk.

  9. #9 Anonymous coward
    February 15, 2008

    Gnu date can do red blood.

    $ date -d “2/15/2008 + 56 days”

    With platelets you’d need to store a history, but it should be pretty easy manage.

  10. #10 Paul Hutchinson
    February 16, 2008

    Gnumeric has a Windows build available.

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2008

    Well, people who use Windows should try it!

  12. #12 razib
    February 16, 2008

    Choose from a very wide range of software in certain application areas.

    “certain application areas” = stuff programmers would use. e.g., billions & billions of code editors and IDEs. lots fewer stuff which can compare with adobe graphics app suite.

  13. #13 Virgil Samms
    February 16, 2008

    Gnu date can do red blood.

    Thank you. You have improved the quality of my life.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2008

    Razib, you always come here these days with a chip on your shoulder, I wonder why.

    No, nothing in Linux compares to Adobe Photoshop! The Gimp and Digikam are free, Photo shop costs hundreds of dollars No comparison at all!!!

    It is not true, in case anyone would be inclined to take my friend Razib seriously, that THE wide range of software in Linux is ONLY “stuff programmers use.” Thats the troll talking. It is also true in word processing, number crunching (including spreadsheets), and other areas.

    I think it is probably true that the narrowest range of software in general is available on Macs, and depending on what area of application one looks at, LInux (which has exited in *nix versions of one kind or another for much longer than Windows has) would be on the other end of the spectrum.

    Mac people will now arrive to tell us that this is because Mac has a small number of perfected software applications, who needs more (like, how mac has only one button on its mouse, and all). Windows trolls will now arrive to tell us about specific events that they know of in which linux did something bad with an application.

  15. #15 Todd
    February 16, 2008

    In razib’s defense, Linux is awesome for programmers.

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    February 16, 2008

    Physio:

    Zara rocks. For quite a while, Xara was considered to be the more expensive, more cool, more stable and preferred application, by many, compared to Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator was for people who were not rich or cool enough to use Zara. Then the company changed their business model and made it OpenSource. Personally, I really like it.

    It is certainly not the only vector based drawing package available in Linux, but it is the one I personally prefer.

    Regarding bib software, yes, absolutely. There are a number of different ones, and there is a project that will be excellent once it actually exists with the Openoffice project.

    But of the available options, I personally prefer, and use as my reference manager, a packaged called “bibus.” Bibus is written in python and uses mySQL or SQL lite (you pick which you prefer). This means that the data are stored in a format that, unlike all commercial systems, is accessible by other software or that you can write your own software for (if you want … I’ve not found the need). It has “cite while you write” in Openoffice.org, and connects to Pubmed, various libraries, etc.

    Since I have access to a wide range of library resources here at UMN that interface somewhat automatically with Refworks, I use Refworks (an online system) to accumulate certain data, then shoot the stuff over to Bibus. But using Bibus directly with PubMed is usually easier.

    For page layout: I don’t do much of that these days, but yes, there certainly are. Page layout was invented on and for *nix systems, so all the major commercial level professional page layout systems exist in some form or another on Linux, of course. However, most users do not find these professional packages as handy and easy to use as things like Pagemaker and it’s offspring (like the page maker parts that were inserted into InDesign.) But there are GUI mouse-driven page layout packages for Linux.

    The one that people use most these days is Scribus. I don’t use it so I can’t comment on it. Also, I have read about at least one project to either upgrade Scribus or meld it with something else, or whatever, to come up with the next generation of page layout software. But again, I don’t use these packages so I don’t have anything useful to say about them.

    If you absolutely need to use Endnote, that can be done as well. I thought I needed Endnote (until I discovered Bibus and liked it better), and lack of Endnote was the single reason I did not make the complete shift to Linux. I made a dual-boot system, and figured I’d finish off wirting projects by shooting them over to Windows and working there with Endnote.

    Then I discovered that I could easily run Endnote and Microsoft Word in Linux. So I did, and it worked great (they ran better … as in crash-free, faster startup, etc.) on my Linux machine than on Windows. This was done with “Crossover” (which costs money … like 25 bucks) and worked on versions of Office and Endnote that were not necessarily the most current version (that varies over time … when a new version comes out, it takes months for the Crossover people to get it working perfectly, so better to avoid the most current version).

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    February 17, 2008

    Yes. Octave and Scilab. I am not a Matlab user, so I can’t tell you much. I’ve tested them both but it has been two years since doing that.

    If you use Matlab now on Windows or Mac, and want to try Linux, why not just get the LInux version of Matlab? .. or would they charge you extra. Generally, you can get software reps to give you a free license or at least a free three months when you are contemplating changing hardware.

    For statistics, there is R. R is in my view more flexible and powerful than any other statistical program anywhere. Totally command line. No limits of any importance.