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Just in case you are interested, here are some details of the PCs I have and the software I run.

I have 4 PCs at home - three in our children's rooms and one laptop that I use for work.  All the PCs have Ubuntu as their primary OS.  Why?  Because I can't afford to pay for 4 Windows licenses!

In my academic life I mainly used Windows XP and MacOS (a really nice MacBook!).  In my working life I used Unix on Sun machines, and had installed Linux as an alternative OS on a few laptops.  However, Linux never really was solid enough to use and I always drifted back to Windows or Mac (preferably Mac!!).  With my MacBook I saw how nice a Unix-based OS could be, and so when I left academic life with a few PCs that were about to be disposed of by the Department, I decided to try Linux.

I rebuilt one PC before I left academic life, and put Ubuntu 7.04 on.  I was impressed!  It still took a bit of configuring, but was miles better than previous Redhat installations I had used - Linux had come a long way!  I rebuilt the second PC six months later, and then also inherited my Dad's old PC that was too slow to run XP with all the updates, but which ran Ubuntu brilliantly.  Onto that last PC went Ubuntu 8.10, and it was a revelation - no messing around with config files to get it working, even on out-of-date hardware!  When 9.04 came along I put Ubuntu on a VirtualBox virtual PC within MS Windows Vista that came with the laptop, and quickly saw that Ubuntu 9.04 was superior to Vista in every way.  In June 2009 I re-partitioned the Hard disk and, after a further year with both Ubuntu and Windows, I now have Ubuntu as the only OS on my laptop.

The big testament to Ubuntu is that I moved from constantly using Windows to constantly using Ubuntu in one day, with no reason to look back or regret the move!  Everything just works!  There is now only one program I use that have no excellent equivalent - Logos ... a Bible research program.  And, sadly, the developers are stubborn in their refusal to consider a more platform-neutral version.

Final testimony - my family and kids no longer moan about not having Windows ... as long as they remember to save from OpenOffice in .doc format for their school documents they can do all that they did on Windows, apart from a few windows-only games that my youngest son has.  I had XP installed on one PC for those, but no longer need that.  Even the games they have all run under Wine!


For your interest, these are the programs I use in Ubuntu.  Note that most can be installed painlessly from Ubuntu's Synaptic Package Manager or from GetDeb ... the links to the websites are only so you can find out more about the programs:

Text Editors ... geany and gedit

Word Processor / Spreadsheet / Presentation / Database ... OpenOffice

Other Productivity ... Freemind, Scribus, JPilot (to access old Palm files), Glista

Financial ... FTax for tax calculation and returns

Browser ... ChromeFirefox

Email ... Gmail within the browser, checkgmail for desktop notification, Evolution

Telephony ... Skype

Chat ... Pidgin, Empathy

Video ... PiTiVi, OpenShot, Cinelerra, Movie Player and VLC (ubuntu_restricted_extras & medibuntu for Codecs)

Audio ... Rhythmbox (it syncs to iPods and MP3 players without fault), Audacity

Graphics ... GIMP, Xara XtremeInkscape

Photos ... gThumb, fotoxx

Parental Control ... OpenDNS on the router (IP update done by ddclient), DansGuardian with Privoxy

Bible Study ... Bible Desktop, Xiphos Bible Guide, BibleTime

Games ... nQuake, PRBoom, AssaultCube, OpenBVE, OpenTTD ... rarely used, but fun occasionally!

Web Development ... XAMPP for Linux, Sun Java 6 JDK

Other Programming ... Scratch

Backup and Sync ... Dropbox

Other useful installed items: medibuntu and ubuntu_restricted_extras for Flash, codecs, TrueType fonts etc.

What do I miss?

I missed K9 for simple but effective parental control on Linux, but have finally found a good solution to replace it.  I use a number of levels.  On the Network config I use OpenDNS with static IPs on my machines and local host files so that the lack of local nameservice that results from using OpenDNS is overcome.  ddclient updates the current IP address of the router to OpenDNS, and I have configured my OpenDNS account to filter out adult sites.  This setup works well and was very easy to configure.  However, it does not protect the family from image searches and other dynamically created content.  Therefore, I have also installed DansGuardian, which includes both URL and page filtering so that I can on-the-fly change the URLs to ensure Google safe search is always turned on.  DansGuadian needs a proxy, and so I use Privoxy, which enables me to also filter out adverts and various malware.  Just for an additional layer, I also use the DansGuardian Blacklist feature using the Shalla lists and a scheduled weekly update to these lists.  I mention all this because setting up Parental Controls that are genuinely secure on Ubuntu is still not as simple as installing one app.  Instructions for doing all this can be found here.

I really miss having Logos for Bible Study.  I would install Windows in VirtualBox to access Logos if only Windows came with disks, but sadly the laptop only came with Vista restore disks - what a rip off!

Microsoft MovieMaker ... incredibly simple software, and Linux has some better alternatives (PiTiVi and Cinelerra, together with Avidemux), but sad to say, they all let me down in some way or another, whereas Microsoft MovieMaker just works.

Having recently replaced my mobile 'phone with an Android phone (Motorola Defy), I now have no problems with syncing my diary, task list and contacts ... it just goes straight from my 'phone to Google Calendar, Tasks, and Contacts, which I then pick up within Evolution or, indeed, any browser.

I did struggle with synchronisation of files between machines, but found DropBox for each user on each machine to be an excellent solution (and even better than Ubuntu One) ... syncing locally using the LAN when we need to sync large numbers of files, and otherwise background syncing immediately you save a file so that each machine is always up-to-date and in addition we have backup on the 'cloud'.

I miss nothing else because virtually all of the programs I now use I also used in Windows or have found direct replacements for.  Linux is so much easier to live with now!

Phone Software

For many years I have had Palm handhelds to keep my diary, notes, tasks, contacts and electronic Bible and books with me on the move.  In Jan 2010 I upgraded to a Palm Treo 500 as a replacement, because the PalmOS devices were getting increasingly hard to replace.  Sadly, I had multiple problems with the Treo 500, and therefore I have replaced it with an Android mobile - a Motorola Defy.  This was such a good move!  What an excellent 'phone, and brilliant software environment.  I now have a pain-free integrated mobile data life!

This is the list of Apps I have added to the phone to make it really useful:

Text Editor ... Note Everything

Productivity ... Xpenser (expense tracking via email), Adobe Reader, Astrid Tasks, QuickOffice
                        (I also use the built-in Google Mail app, and the excellent integrated Blur Mail and Contacts apps)

Utility ... Calculator

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