3 linux apps that make the difference.

Since I’ve ported my brand new 11.6 inch Macbook Air to Ubuntu Linux, I’ve noticed that I seldom boot back into OSX on this little machine. Life is good on the Ubuntu side. Because for where it might lack powerful video editing tools or multitrack recorders that come with the same ease of use as Mac, Ubuntu (and Linux in general) shines when it comes to the myriad of free software that is available. Many blogposts will tell you the “top 5 apps” you NEED to install on your Linux machine, but you might know those lists by heart because they always offer the same apps.  Today I’ll serve you up three applications that don’t necessarily show up on those lists , but for me make all the difference.

Variety.

Though, with the Unity interface, Ubuntu might have moved on from spinning desktop cubes and wobbly windows, ‘looks’ are still a big part of the experience. Because 80 percent of your “post install” work consists of looking for “the right wallpaper”, I decided to ‘have somebody do that for me’ : Enter “Variety”  a light, well written and awesome application that will switch wallpapers for you. You can choose the interval time, but also many many external sources of wallpaper material. Predefined Flickr groups of wallpapers are just one of the options, you can have Variety search Flickr for certain tags and keywords and pull down those wallpapers for you automatically. Luckily Variety also has the option to add your own folder filled with your personal wallpapers and mix everything up a bit with the external feeds. The menu bar icon up top lets you know it’s been installed and gives you access to all the settings. A cute little app that gives my tweaked system a little extra shine. (AND lets you use the fantastic KNIGHTWISE.COM WALLPAPERS on your machine   Available from the Ubuntu software center or via  sudo apt-get install variety 

Kazam.

Although it was a pretty tough call between ‘soundconverter’ and ‘kazam screencaster’ to make this list, I chose the latter. Having to “capture” some internet video lately, I decided to give my Ubuntu machine the chance to prove its worth. Kazam is an online screen recorder that does its job well. You can record your entire screen, or sections of it, and have that video recorded in H264/mp4 format or VP8. You get to pick the framerate and the folder where the recordings are stored. No rocket science here. However the beauty comes with the combination of Kazam and Pulseaudio Volume control that let you record a much needed ‘sound input combination’. You cannot only record the screen with audio coming FROM ‘the sceen’ (your computer output) OR from your Microphone .. You can combine those 2 sound inputs and give “live” commentary on whatever youtube video you are grabbing. For a screencaster like me thats essential, AND damn handy when you want to record Google hangouts and the like. The output is very reliable and the process is dead easy. Kazam can also be found in the Ubuntu Software Center or via sudo apt-get install kazam

Lightread

lightreadAs the winner of the “Ubuntu app showdown” competition Rightlead is an RSS reader. Whow ! I hear you say, another RSS reader ?  In order to make this list it better come with belly dancing Ewoks as a key feature because when it comes to RSS reader we have seen them all. The kicker with Lightread is that it constantly “syncs” with your Google Reader feeds ( you subscribe to new stuff, your stuff is in Lightread ) Lightread is simple, elegant, lets you tag and star articles and export them to Instapaper and Pocket. No rocket science but brilliant in its simplicity. I dare say that Lightread could be a native Mac app .. thats how good its done. I boot it up when I open my machine to read my feeds instead of surfing the web. To see is to believe.   Lightread is available from the Ubuntu Software Center or via sudo apt-get install lightread.

 

You can find more applications from the Ubuntu App showdown HERE  and HERE.

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Play your best cards : Portable apps on an SDcard.

The days we still had computers that did not have a usb port are long gone. Most computers these days come equipted with a variety of SD-card readers. Now we know we use those things in our camera’s and our phones , but we don’t always have to. One of the beautiful things of SD storage is that its cheaper (and sometimes faster ) then a usb stick AND they fit in your wallet ( Just like a condom does ) So instead of carrying around those chuncky usb drives on your keychain, why not go all “spy” on them and install your favorite apps (and your much needed data) on an sd card you carry in your wallet ? Its like the modern day microfilm .. for geek-spies.

You can of course run your favorite collection of portable apps on there , and THIS site is one of my all time favorites when it comes to having your own little launcher in the taskbar of any system to kick off your portable apps from. But Pendriveapps.com comes with an even bigger collection of applications stuffed inside different categories. So check them out and go get yourself that super fast 32 SDHC Flash card to geek out on. If push comes to shove you can always carry an SD to USB card reader to use when there is no compact flash reader in the pc you are using. The usb stick is sooo 90’s Upgrade to an SD card and carry your apps .. in your wallet.

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