Top Ten Open Source Applications

Blender screenshot.
For years I labored with Microsoft Windows while my son Steven had long since adopted Linux. Now that Ubuntu has won me over, I was curious as to what Steven’s choice in open source software would be. Recently I sent him this email:

What would be your top ten open source software picks? Not including the ones that are already pre-loaded on Ubuntu.

He responded with the names of ten software applications. I list them below in alphabetical order.


Amarok is the music player for Linux and Unix with an intuitive interface. Amarok makes playing the music you love easier than ever before — and looks good doing it. Amarok serves many functions rather than just playing music files. For example, Amarok can be used to organize a library of music into folders according to genre, artist, and album, can edit tags attached to most music formats, associate album art, attach lyrics, and automatically “score” music as it is played.


Blender is a 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems. It can be used for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, water simulations, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulations, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications.

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Windows to Ubuntu Transition

Windows to Ubuntu

Ubuntu Logo
When my sons and I were assembling personal computers for our own use, and networking them, we needed additional copies of Windows 95. This was always a challenge to come up with additional licenses. When the move came to Windows 98 I bought five copies of the operating system at $100 each, which at the time was an onerous amount to pay. In the next few years my children began to use Linux on their own computers. I was using Windows 2000 Professional my son Steven had given to me that had been given to him by Microsoft in a programming competition.

When XP was released it was time to move to Linux. Not that XP was a rickety operating system, I was just growing tired of having to keep buying my operating system over and over. I didn’t want to have to upgrade the many Windows software applications I had bought over the years.

So I began, first with a dual boot machine, and over time converted 15 years of data for use with Ubuntu. I moved Word Perfect and Office files to Open Office; moved from Turbo Tax to online tax preparation; exported Personal Ancestral File GEDCOMs to PhpGedView; and so forth. I’m a big fan of Google Docs and use it a lot.

Once in the open source world, life gets easier. I have learned about high quality open source software and to use on-line applications through Firefox. Ubuntu has a new release every six months and it just gets easier to use after each iteration.

Rickety signature.