I may be opening myself up to the firing squad here becuase you know some people are
quite passionate about their favorite tools/distro etc. This isn't meant to be
a 'best of' list but an example of how you can set up a solid desktop machine that
will meet your eye candy needs but also have enough tools under the hood for the web
Hopefully the list will also be of some help for non-GNU/Linux users who might like to take
the plunge. Hence some of you already know many of this software comes standard with almost any distro, but
I list them to give an idea of what you can get in a completely free 100% non MS computer.
Kudos for good suggestions:
f+; erom - ngrep was a good tool I didn't know.; Asura - good list of tools at http://www.insecure.org/tools.html;
Zeppo Mexicano; agras; y and ;)
Feel free to add more, make corrections or suggest alternatives.
I don't wanna start a flame war or rehash discussions that are already all over the net but...
Good choice if you're moving from Windows or just starting out.
Ubuntu if you prefer the Gnome desktop, Kubuntu if you want KDE or Xubuntu for XFCE.
Gentoo - Good if you are into tweaking everything
and you have a lot of time on your hands. Good for advanced learning and those who like to roll up their sleeves.
Somewhere inbetween those you can pick a raft of others. I like Fedora
simply because I cut my teeth on RedHat.
It's not terribly important. Try a few!
Yes, unlike windows you actually get a choice here. Choose your weapon...
Pretty slick icons, look and feel. Is a true GNU desktop and uses GTK+ for development.
Maybe not quite as slick but has a ton of software, is older and
Uses Qt for development framework which was controversial for not being completely open source.
Very light-weight but also capable. Runs great on an old Pentium Pro 200Mhz machine or an xbox!
Common Apps for the Desktop
Just because you have an Open Source operating system doesn't mean you have to look at a vt100
session all day. The days of GNU/Linux being considered a 'poor mans windows' are long over.
Of course you can always go to a shell (command line) if things get rough.
Highly customisable and puts windows exploder to shame.
Great audio player and media library with amazing features such as auto album cover and lyrics download.
If you don't need quite so many bells and whistles a more lightweight option would be xmms
which is styled after the popular WinAmp player and supports skins, input plugins etc.
For dumping/viewing any streaming content.
If you can't bear to part with some of your precious windoze apps never fear, you may be able to take
them with you. My beloved Edit Plus runs like a dream under Wine.
It's Java, so it runs fine. You need torrents for all those distros you wanna try.
Supports just about any flavour of messaging you can imagine.
Comes built into KDE and scrolls everything you want to know across your desktop.
Terminal Services Client
Sometimes you need to use remote desktop to get into windoze from afar. Yes, you can access your XP box directly from
your GNU/Linux desktop but you may be
interested in this hack
which allows multiple users to logon to a XP machine at the same time.
Full Featured Office Suite
Open Office -
Spreadsheet, word processing, presentations etc.
Adobe Reader -
Not Open Source but a free download and pretty slick imho. If you really need an Open Source alternative try KGhostview.
Dia Diagrams -
All sorts of structured diagrams such as network topologies, UML, electrical circuits, schematics etc. If you are into UML you
might also like to try Umbrello.
The Gimp -
Photo manipulation, retouching etc. Feature rich with everything you would expect from a top graphics app.
Quick Image Viewer
kuickshow - Because you don't want to open a full blown
graphics app everytime you browse through your photo collection. Kuickshow is simple, fast and discreet. Supports
slideshows and all the usual fare for an image viewer.
Frontend for ripping and encoding audio files. Supports CDDB lookups, batch job scheduling etc.
No need to explain much here. Ok, ok, you can have your beloved Opera too.
Disk Space Monitor
Uses KDiskFree to monitor disk capacity at a glance from your system tray.
Helps you see what's going on. Customisable and can be left running in your taskbar.
Cross platform IRC client.
Supports FTP, FTPS, SSH etc, including FXP transfers.
Anonymous Web Browsing
Tor & Privoxy -
So you don't leave a trail behind you.
When you want to see what's really going over the wire. Snort
is also popular for analysis and intrusion detection.
AirSnort & WEPCrack -
Because sometimes you need to know what your neighbours are up to. Also check Kismet.
VPN & IPsec
Openswan is a fork from the now discontinued FreeS/WAN project.
IPtables is popular for firewalling, NAT masquerading and packet mangling as it is built in to most kernels.
Also see SmoothWall for full blown standalone firewalls.
Ok, so Linux isn't exactly the platform of choice for gaming but these free offerings show
that the barrel isn't empty and there are some gems around.
Sure this concept has been used before? Maybe ask your kids...
Space Shoot'em up
Project Starfighter -
Top quality game originally developed for Amiga but ported over to Linux. Also check out
for a great looking/sounding mindless shooting game.
C64 fans who worshiped Andrew Braybrook may travel back in time to 1986 with this addictive puzzle/shootemup.
Into the Emulator Scene?
All the usual MAME fare right from your desktop. Amiga fans can't go past UAE.
Anyone remember the first time they saw Red Sector Megademo?
Never under-estimate running your own server for a better understanding of how other people's servers work.
One of the best known web servers on the net. And completely free for you.
Powerful html embedded language used for dynamic web pages.
Popular free database that integrates well with Apache and PHP. Some prefer PostgreSQL
as they claim it supports more advanced features. Also there are concerns about MySQL's future now that Oracle have
bought the underlying engine which is supplied by Innobase.
Web Stats Reporting
Very common as it comes with a few distros.
Web Proxy Cache Server
You wouldn't want to accidently leave this running somewhere. Say at an internet cafe for example.
More Tools from the command line
Some essentials for your toolkit. Most come included in standard distros.
GNU Grep -
It's power may not be immediately apparent. Use the pipe (|) to unleash it.
Mirroring or dumping down whole sites
It's the same GNU Wget but with extra features such as downloading from streaming URL's.
Detailed System Info
System summary and task info in one command.
Privacy and Encryption
Public key encryption software. Because you don't always want to send everything in plain text.
Download, install & upgrade software automatically. It's true!
Network Connection Testing
GNU netcat -
for testing IP network connections. Check out the essays right here on the
Port scanning tool to easily see network connections.
The power of Grep for network packets.
GNU Binutils -
Strings is an example tool for quick viewing in binary data.
Good Scripting Language
* ~* ~**
You are deep inside SixtyOne -