Without question, switching to Linux years ago was one of the more rewarding decisions I've ever made in my professional life. It's important to mention though, that I didn't simply wake up one morning and decide to jump off the Microsoft bandwagon. Instead, I slowly crossed over by trying open source programs on Windows first.
In this article, I'm going to share both the programs that helped me make the transition easier, as well as software titles that I think you're missing out on if you haven't tried them already.
Firefox – Many of you may already being using this obvious choice. But for those who are still holding out and using other non-open source browsers, I think you're missing out in a big way. Firefox is only getting faster and more reliable since progressing to the rapid release schedule. And for the most part, needed extensions are catching up as well.
LibreOffice – When I first started with OpenOffice, little did I realize that the free office suite would forever change the way I looked at obtaining new software. Flash forward to now, LibreOffice has dethroned OpenOffice as the go-to office suite, and its development is on track to be more prolific than ever. For me, I found an open source office suite to be a bigger push into trying Linux than any other specific application.
GIMP – Having used both Photoshop and Gimp, it was Gimp that won me over in the long term. Next to LibreOffice, it's easily my second most used application. From making minor changes to images I've taken with my camera, to coming up with crazy logo creations – GIMP offers it all. I've also grown dependent on their awesome plugins as well.
VLC – I use VLC, because I just want my media to play without having to chase down codecs for my media player. VLC is one of the best media players available for Windows (and Linux) in my opinion. From DVDs and MP3s to various video formats, VLC will play them all. What I really love about using VLC is I don't have to consciously consider any special settings to play various types of media. Simply set it as the default, click on the file, and enjoy the content.
XMind – Using mind maps isn't a new concept per se, but it's increasingly becoming more practical for individuals who are looking to explain complex ideas. And one of the best applications I've used to take on this challenge is called XMind. I've found that XMind is easy to use, runs smoothly on moderate system specs and provides fantastic mind mapping functionality.
Jitsi – Skype for Linux has seen tremendous developments since Microsoft took over; however, Jitsi is where I think the future is headed. Like Skype, it's also available for Windows users, but the biggest differing factor is that Jitsi is open source software using open source protocols. The features I appreciate the most about Jitsi include multi-group video calls, the ability to support more than one single chat protocol and the fact that it’s completely open source license.
POPFile –I don't believe all Bayesian filtering is created equal. POPFile is unique in that it not only filters spam to a predetermined folder, you can also even set it to "learn" which email you'd like where, depending on the tone of the message. It takes work, but with patience, I've used POPFile as a probability folder sorter with great success.
Thunderbird – Without question, it's my favorite email client. Thunderbird supports POP and IMAP email, and it also offers the added benefit of working with extensions as to further extend its functionality. With the right extensions installed, it's very easy to turn Thunderbird into a full-fledged Personal Information Manager.