Top 5 Linux Apps I Can't Do Without

Friday, July 9, 2010

AWN (Avant Window Manager) - is a slick-looking animated dock that you can customize to show shortcuts to your favorite apps. Most apps will have their own AWN icons, so don't worry about any apps you might want to add. It also displays shortcuts to any open application, so if you have apps open in different virtual desktops clicking will immediately take you to the desktop where that app is active. Depending on what animation style you choose, the icons will twhirl, throb or twinkle for you when you hover a cursor over them. It also works well with Compiz, so much so that if you have Compiz on, your AWN icons will turn 3D! By default, the dock also has a mini-terminal, good for squirting those quick one-line commands. To find out more about AWN, go to

Shutter - a screenshot program that takes it to the next level by including simple editing features to make creating screenshots a one app affair. One common example is blurring your personal information (IP address, email address, IM handles) when you intend to post a screenshot of your desktop online. This is quite common for anyone blogging HowTo's and reviews. You can take screenshots of different windows and it will arrange them in tabs until saved. You can crop, resize, blur, add lines, shapes, highlighting and text to the pic. Shutter is so good on features, it can even take a screenshot of itself. How cool is that?! To find out more about Shutter, go to

VirtualBox - my favorite virtual machine software because it's not as resource-intensive as VMWare and it's compatible with VMWare images. My computer only has 2GB of RAM and rather limited hard drive space (too many old pictures and media files -- LOL), but I can still run VirtualBox with a browser, chat and torrent running. It's quite lean, if you asked me. To find out more about VirtualBox, go to

Deluge - a BitTorrent client with extras. Most distributions include Transmission by default now. Some include the main branch BitTorrent. But I like this one because of the extent of features it has. Its based of Python and GTK, making it lightweight, as opposed maybe to Azureus. It's also intuitive (for me) to configure features, three of which I most often use -- encryption, blocklists and the tray icon that allows me to change bandwidth allocation easily and on-the-fly. It also has a single-window interface that shows all your torrents and clicking on any torrent plus the tabs below allow you to check on any number of details -- how may peers you're connected to, what percent each file is at, how fast uploads and downloads are per peer, etc. I guess comparing it to Azureus, it's interface is as informative but not as heavy on system resources. Compared to Transmission, it displays a lot more information and a lot more tweak potential. It's good middle ground. To find out more about Deluge, go to

BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing) - a computing platform that large science projects can use to harness the potential of distributed computing. Basically, distributed computing uses volunteer computers and it starts using your computer's spare processor cycles when you're not using it. BOINC provides a platform for these science projects to just plugin. Since I sometimes leave the computer on for large downloads, I turn BOINC on and it crunches numbers for science projects like Rosetta@Home (protein folding), SETI@home (analysis of extraterrestial radio signals) and (climate prediction models). There are alot of deserving science projects that you can certainly participate in. You just have to find a cause that you're willing to support. I encourage anyone out there reading this -- if you leave your internet-connected PC on for extended periods of time, consider donating your spare CPU cycles to these projects. Don't let those processor cycles go o waste! Go to to find out more about active projects you can support.


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