My Favorite Linux Apps

As my earlier posts have indicated, I have moved to Ubuntu Linux as my default desktop. Many of you have been asking me if I have all the equivalent applications (as compared to Microsoft Vista) that I may require to do my work smoothly. The answer is yes and here are some of the must have and essential applications for Linux.

All these applications are in the open source domain and can be obtained easily and installed on your system. In fact, quite a few of them might come as standard applications when you install your new Linux Desktop. There are literally hundreds of other products out there, but the following are some of my favorite.

Web Browser
This comes pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux. Firefox is now a far more popular surfing browser than Microsoft Internet Explorer

Mail Client
This comes pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux. The application is quite similar to MS-Outlook. It includes Calendar, Address book, To Do list, Sharing of Vcards etc.

Instant Messaging

This software supports all major IM clients including, MSN, Yahoo IM, Google Talk, AOL, ICQ, MySpaceIM etc. It also comes pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux.


Skype is not supported by Pidgin. However, Skype itself offers a linux version. I downloaded it from their website.

Office Application Suite
Open Office
This is a great Office Product in the open source domain. It not only imports all MS-Word/Excel/Powerpoint documents but is even able to read their new docX extensions. It even lets you save files in MS Word/Excel/Powerpoint formats to share with your friends and colleagues who are still stuck with MS-Office. It came pre-installed with my Ubuntu Linux.

Music Application
Inspired by iTunes, it is one of the best music management application that I have come across on Linux platform. It will let you rip, burn audio CDs; import music from any device including USB and even supports internet radio. It comes pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux.

Movie Player
We all want to watch our favorite movie on our computer or hook it up through S-video to our TV. Totem Movie Player is the right tool for you. It also came pre-installed with Ubuntu Linux

Photo Manager
There are a bunch of open source applications for photo management, but I prefer my Picasa. I downloaded it from Google’s website and it works great for photo sharing, management and organizing them.

Firestarter is probably the easiest firewall configuration tool that I have found on Linux platform. It works well for desktops as well as servers and it will take you less than 5 minutes to configure it and get the basic services going. You can dowload it from the website and follow the procedure to configure it.

Money Management
GNU Cash
For all those MS-Money or Quicken fans out there, here is an open source implementation of the money management application. It has all the great freatures of any major accounting package (for home as well as small business). A must have addition.

Notes tool
Tomboy Notes
Tomboy is a simple desktop note-taking application. It came with my copy of Ubuntu linux.

Maps and Satellite Images
Google Earth
If you are a fan of finding things on earth using google earth, then download its linux implementation from their website.


Green & White – Techcrunch of Pakistan

Green & WhiteThere are over 800 registered Information Technology companies with Pakistan Software Export Board. Quite a number of them have over 100 employees and revenues that exceed multi-million dollars. A conservative estimate by the government indicates that over 100,000 people are employed by the information technology related industry. From vendors, to call center staff, to software engineers. Despite these large numbers, it is quite unfortunate that the traditional media does not have any focused coverage plans for this vibrant and emerging industry within the country. Barring occasional press releases and a few PSEB or PASHA newsletters, one never gets to hear what is going on within the industry. In this vacuum, is like an oasis in the desert; filling the void with their wonderful, to the point, entertaining, and candid coverage of the whole industry.

I stumbled upon them when I was still at Stanford and they had independently tested/covered one of the companies that I had co-founded in Pakistan, called BrightSpyre in 2002. It was quite intriguing to read how they perceived the company and what the people were talking about. Ever since that time, I have been checking the blogsite quite regularly. They are always at the forefront covering events, reviewing companies or potentially good projects and even debating the future of IT industry in Pakistan. It makes for a great read and shows that the industry is alive with ideas and growing rapidly.

To me they are the techcrunch of Pakistan. Keep up the good work guys. It is really heartening to see that what the media does not consider important, they take it seriously and cover it thoroughly.

For more information visit: – A refreshing approach to news and events

Each day, I visit dozens of websites including blogs, news sites, forums and even social networking platforms. The purpose is keeping tabs on various technologies, events, and of course to see what else is going on around me. Whether it is political, sports, IT or even finer side of life, I prefer to find it online. And sometimes, I even write about some of it (like right now) at some forum or on one of my blogs out there… is one such startup out of the valley that has caught my attention and has literally made some of my surfing easier. It not only organizes information professionally of everything that I want, but also gets my point of view out there faster.

The first thing that you see is not textual information, but a world map. As a user, you choose the region that interests you and it takes you to the news and events related to that region directly. Remarkable. For example, the story of sudden death of Benazir Bhutto spread around the world like wildfire. There was hardly any website, blog, newspaper, TV, radio that did not cover the event in detail within minutes of its happening. Even CNN listed found Benazir’s death as the most sought after event on its website. Within two days of its happening, it has probably achieved the notoriety of becoming the biggest news story for 2007. But seems to have found a way to filter and bring the best of these stories out for its readers.

I get to read what the other newspapers are talking about, view comments left by people and also add my own blogs/feeds/comments to this list. Wonderful!

As another example, I was watching some news story on TV and a name Miliband came up in UK. I clicked on the map of UK on and got complete details about him, including a link to Wikipedia of his entry.

I think this is the future of how we shall gather news, read, and comment. It is a mix of traditional (imported news items from major players including fox, cnn, bbc etc) with a blend of blogs and viewers comments. CNN is trying to do something similar with iReport, but so far seems a better effort. Good job guys.