Making the switch from Windows to Kubuntu

I finally made the switch from Windows Vista to Linux Free Operating System. I moved to the Kubuntu version of Ubuntu 10.10 (a Linux flavour) as my development box and haven’t looked back. Well I lied, since I did look back a bit at the beginning lol. It has been a an interesting challenge mentally adjusting to new way of doing things, new tools (applications) and driver support. In the end it was definitely worth it.

And why Kubuntu? since it’s basically Ubuntu a Debian-derived Linux distribution with KDE (a prettier desktop) on-top. Ubuntu brings your slower machines to life. While Windows keeps on slowing them down. Ubuntu is a secure, intuitive operating system that powers desktops, servers, netbooks and laptops. Ubuntu is, and always will be, absolutely free. More about it here.

Why I switched

Today all my development is open source. This means I run what I create on a LAMP stack – L stands for Linux Server. Doing development on a Windows box and pushing to a LAMP stack is like clawing your way through quick sand instead of using a ninja sword to slice through your tasks.

One day, I asked myself. Wouldn’t it be kick ass if my dev box would be close to identical to my production boxes. Knowing that whatever I do on my dev box will work in production with high certainty. Yes yes, Ubuntu popped into my mind. Which later after speaking with a fellow Linux hacker changed to Kubuntu.

As you may already know, Kubuntu is highly configurable. You even have access to the source code if you wish to venture that deep. It also has a great X window called KDE. Check out these top the winners from a 5-day competition on Facebook where fans were invited to submit a screenshot of their pimped Ubuntu desktop. No excuses about Ubuntu’s poor UI.

My customized Ubuntu desktop
My customized Ubuntu desktop
My customized Kubuntu desktop
My customized Kubuntu desktop

Linux apps to replace your Windows apps

Here is a comprehensive list of apps to replace your Windows versions.

Note: Most applications & games on Linux are open source. This mostly means free. Thus, the ones I listed below as alternatives in the Linux world are all free and can be downloaded from your package manager. I use Synaptic Package Manager (SPM). All the software here is verified and malicious free – it’s safe to get all your apps from here. To install SPM, in your terminal window type this in and your done. Simple eh.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install synaptic

Securitythis one just kills windows. Ubuntu comes with a firewall built in and windows viruses – what are they on Ubuntu – non existent. All you need is software like Gufw to help you “manage” your firewall else you can do it via the terminal / konsole window.
In your terminal window type this in and your done. This cannot get any harder 😉

sudo apt-get install gufw

And if you want hard-core detail on securing Ubuntu, read this post covers the process of securing and hardening the default Debian GNU/Linux distribution installation.

Applications… the following let’s use “Synaptic Package Manager”.

Purpose Windows Linux
Development
Code editor Notepad++ gedit
SFTP, FTP and SCP client WinSCP FileZilla
Telnet/SSH Putty OS Konsole /
terminal window
Code compare Beyond Compare Kompare
MySQL manager and admin tool SQLyog MySQL Workbench
Virtualization VMWare VirtualBox
Multimedia
Video player Windows Media Player VLC
Video editor Sony Vegas Kdenlive
Organize, share & edit your photos Picasa Picasa /
Gwenview
Photo editor Photoshop GIMP
Audio player Windows Media Player Amarok
CD/DVD burner Nero K3b
Other
Office (word, excel, powerpoint etc) Windows Office OpenOffice /
Google Docs
File browser Windows Explorer Dolphin
Internet browsers Chrome Chromium
Antivirus & Firewall Take a pick lol Gufw to manage your Firewall
Silverlight MS Silverlight Moonlight

Additional stuff you can install to make your Kubuntu experience pleasing:

Don’t forget to use your Synaptic Package Manager to look for these apps first. Only when you cannot find them there click on the title of each app below to take you to the website hosting the app and instructions.

  • Docky – shortcut bar that sits at the bottom, top, and/or sides of your screen. You can make it look and behave like mac’s bar.
  • KSnapshot – simple & powerful easy to use screen capture program.
  • Ubuntu Tweak – tweak Ubuntu’s desktop and system options that the default desktop environment doesn’t provide.
  • Beagle – advanced desktop search.
  • FreeMind – premier free mind mapping software written in Java.
  • Etherape – graphical network monitor.
  • Other code editors:
    • JetBrain. Their professional developer tools are kickass! I have trialled their PHPStorm & ReSharper with positive results. They also have editors for Ruby & Python (shakes of excitement). It’s not free but they do have trial versions available for download.
    • Eclipse. Open source IDE editors written in Java.
  • Dropbox – Online backup, file sync, and sharing made easy. Get it here: http://db.tt/QDC0nvU
  • ubuntu-restricted-extras – Essential software which is not already included due to legal or copyright reasons. Gives support for MP3 playback and decoding, Java runtime environment, Microsoft fonts, Flash plugin, DVD playback, and LAME (to create compressed audio files).
  • Adobe Flash & Adobe Air so you can run web applications like TweetDeck.

Missing Windows app/s?

If you still miss or cannot find your favorite Windows applications on Kubuntu, you install Wine to run them on Kubuntu. Wine is a program that offers a compatibility layer allowing Linux users to run some Windows-native applications inside of Linux. You can get Wine from Synaptic Package Manager / package manager or by following the instructions here.

Stuff I still need my Windows box for

  • Photo editing – Photoshop and Lightroom and
  • Video editing – Sony Vegas (goes with my Sony HD cam). The Linux alternative Kdenlive just dosent cut it.

With time I’m sure a super duper speced up Mac (with Dual boot for Kubuntu) will replace both my laptops. Now I need to sell myself why I should move to a Mac and pay double the price for hardware.

PS. If you have suggestions or additions to this post please comment below or contact me.

Happy hacking!

~ Ernest

Author: Ernest W. Semerda

IQBOXY cofounder, GSDfaster founder and The Road To Silicon Valley founder/editor. Follow me on Twitter: @ernestsemerda or Google+.

  • OKay, same here… I really need lightroom and maybe my Magix Video editing deluxe.. and maybe the programms to create real photoalbums but the rest could easily be replaced by Kubuntu.

    Today I’m making the first step in going the Kubuntu way…. wish me luck 😉

    • Great news! Hope your 1st steps with Kubuntu were positive 🙂

  • Brent

    Quite possibly the best post I’ve seen (after god-only-knows-how-much-searching) on making the switch… clear, concise, and extremely helpful.  Thanks a ton Ernest!

    • You’re welcome. Great to hear it helped. Ubuntu has also came a long way now with v11.10. Also recommended.

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