Open Source Musings

FOSS

Recently I was culling some notes and I came across one from early 2008. A note that somehow escaped various attempts at pruning over the last 13+ years. A sign or just blind luck?

The note in question was about a post at a now-defunct blog about open source. One quote I extracted from that post pointed out something that I'd been saying for a (long) while:

There are some functionality that isn't available for the free options out there yet, but the actual portion of people that need that specific functionality is so small.

Believe it or not, most free and open source (FOSS) alternatives to commercial software are fine for most people. And they have been for a while.

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A good utility is worth it's weight in ... well, whatever you use to weigh something valuable. And while you might not use certain utilities often, when you do I can bet that you're happy those applications are installed on your computer.

Let's take a quick look at three utilities for the Linux desktop that I find quite useful. Who knows, you might find them useful too.

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(Note: This post was originally published, in a slightly different form, at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.)

In 2016, I took down the shingle of my technology coaching business. Permanently. Or so I thought.

Over the last year or three, more than a few friends and acquaintances have pulled me back (in small ways) into the realm of coaching. How? With their desire to dump That Other Operating SystemTM and move to Linux.

This has been an interesting experience, in no small part because most of the people aren't at all technical. They know how to use a computer to do what they need to do. And they're interested in using Linux. Beyond that, they're not interested in delving deeper. They're not interested in becoming experts.

While bringing them to the Linux side of the computing world, I learned a few things about helping non-techies move to Linux. If someone asks you to help them make the jump to Linux, these eight tips can help you.

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It's been fascinating, and at times scary, to watch how much of our computing has moved into the so-called cloud. Everything from spreadsheets to word processors, note taking tools and todo list managers, even our music now lives on someone else's computer.

What's so scary about all that? It can be a privacy nightmare, and we don't know what the people behind those online apps are doing with our personal information.

Open source makes it possible to find alternatives to many of those applications, to gain more control of your data, of what you use and how you use it. All that's possible through the miracle and magic of self hosting

Notice that I used the word possible a pair of times in the last paragraph. Not easy or even easier, but possible. Despite what what some people say, and more than a few have said it to me, self hosting open source web apps isn't all that easy.

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Once upon a time, carrying your todo list with you mean keeping a sheet of paper or a notebook in your pocket or bag or somewhere else within easy reach. Nowadays, it's a lot easier thanks to smartphones.

There are more than a couple of todo list managers for Android. Some of them are even open source. I've tried several over the years and they've either been bare bones or they've packed every bell and whistle imaginable. One of the better ones that I've tried is Tasks, which is based on the late, lamented Astrid todo list app.

Tasks lies in the middle ground between the simple and the (sometimes overly) complex mobile todo list apps out there — it does a lot, but doesn't (and doesn't try to) overwhelm you.

Let's take a look at it.

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Something that that Linux desktop isn't lacking is tools for working with plain text. That's especially true for text editors. I should know — I've tried more than a few in my time.

A while back, I was having a spot of bother with an editor called Gedit. That bother had to do with the editor's search function — I don't recall the details, to be honest. To get around that problem, I turned to another editor called FeatherPad.

I found FeatherPad to be a more-than-adequate editor, one with several useful functions. Even though I looked at it briefly in another post, I've been meaning to take a closer look at FeatherPad. So why don't we do that now?

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(Note: This article was originally published at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.)

When you think of the word wiki, examples like MediaWiki or DokuWiki probably come to mind. They're open source, useful, powerful, and flexible. They can be great tools for collaborating, working on your own, or just organizing the piles of information in your life.

On the other hand, those wikis are also big. They need quite a bit of additional digital plumbing to run. For many of us, this is overkill, especially if we only want to use wikis on our desktops.

If you want to get that wiki feeling on your desktop without dealing with all of that plumbing, you easily can. There are a number of solid lightweight wikis that can help you organize your information, keep track of your task, manage your notes, and more.

Let's take a look at three lightweight, desktop wikis.

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