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Many Linux enthusiasts associate desktop Linux with their repetitive daily routine. Same old, same old.
Looking to mix things up a little, I thought it’d be fun to take a more entertaining look at what we can do with our Linux boxes. I’m listing ten noteworthy Linux applications that I find very fun to use.
After all, Linux is more than a mere efficient platform. It can also provide a great deal of entertainment as well.
1) Ekiga– When most people think of a video conferencing application, they're generally envisioning Skype. It's understandable, as Skype has managed to brand itself in a way that is tough to compete with.
Yet there’s another application called Ekiga that has been created with open standards in mind and is open source at the application level. Did I mention it was created with the Linux enthusiast in mind?
Providing SIP calling, video conferencing and LAN chatting options, Ekiga is easily the best open source/open calling standards software available. I also like the fact that, like its proprietary cousin Skype, you can add telephone call-in/ call-out abilities for comparable pricing that is tough to beat.
2) GIMP – Those who have used the proprietary photo editing application Photoshop might find most alternatives difficult to use. Getting past that hurdle, there is something amazing about the open source alternative known simply as GIMPor "The GIMP." GIMP allows you to create, edit and alter images with much of the functionality found in Photoshop.
GIMP is quick and simple to use. And once you take the time to learn where the functions are, you'll be surprised at the feature set available in this software bundle. While GIMP is not that sought after on other proprietary platforms, it continues to be the photo editing software of choice for most Linux enthusiasts based on my own experience.
3) VLC – Toss in a DVD movie and enjoy. That is the raw power and ease of using the video viewing application known as VLC Media Player. Its abilities include re-encoding video, playing network video streams, and the option to play nearly any video format -- including Flash -- without any problems.
Advanced abilities are also available through a built-in wizard, and you can access these same functions manually. VLC provides complete control over audio and video settings, which translate into maximum usability for the user. VLC is widely used as a means of watching movies and streaming video alike. It's among the best video viewing software available, bar none.
4) Frets on Fire X – Okay, so I promised I wouldn't include any games. Sorry, but I had to add in this Guitar Hero clone simply because it's so darned much fun to play! It would be a crime to leave it out of this list.
Based on the original Frets on Fire concept, Frets on Fire "X"is the continuation of the guitar-playing game that is played with either a keyboard or guitar. Frets on Fire X is a real blast to experience, while requiring substantial skill to make any headway through the presented challenges.
Songs can be found throughout various resources on the Web with everything ready to be added fairly easily. Not a game for the easily frustrated, this is an open source entertainment experience and a great way to "get into" some of your favorite music.
5) GNOME Do – Assuming you can get past the fact that this is designed for the GNOME desktop, GNOME Dotakes the idea of using keyboard shortcuts and bumps it up to a whole new level.
Imagine keyboard shortcuts to just about everything you use on your Linux desktop. Surf the Web, access specific applications, alter system functionality -- the list goes on and on.
Using this keyboard navigation software will change the way you look at your keyboard completely. Best of all, it's very simple to use and requires no memory or special key commands. Just run GNOME Do in the background and type in the first few letters of the program or task you're looking for.
6) OpenShot – There are nearly as many video editors for Linux these days as there are Web browsers. Sadly, many of these editors are either too complex to use or instead, lack reliability. Others still are stable enough, yet seem to be missing a sane user interface that makes any sense to the casual user. This is where the video editing software known as OpenShot comes into play.
It’s intuitive to use and fun right out of the box. All simple to work with: video transitions, cool video/audio effects, video clipping and advanced editing. Offering a strong alternative to KDENLive and KINO, OpenShot is a fantastic video editor for individuals looking to put the entertainment back into their video editing experience on the Linux platform. It's under heavy active development, but I have found it to be reasonably stable and fun to use for most of my video editing projects.
7) Scribus – Unlike proprietary desktop publishing software available, Scribususes open standards for the files created and allows for easy import and export of your work to other platforms. There is also the pricing consideration – it's free.
Perhaps the biggest difference with Scribus vs. other publishing software is the fact that it requires a bit of a learning curve like GIMP. So if you're a Pagemaker fan, get ready to re-learn the software.
If you're willing to put in a little time learning this application, Scribus is real blast to use. Scribus is also used by a number of non-profits for publishing newsletters and other print publications. So it's professional for the needs of most people in my estimation.
8) StopMotion – How many of you remember Gumby? For those unfamiliar with the TV classic, it was a television program created with stop motion video creation techniques.
Back then, stop motion was done by taking individual pictures and adding them together to create a moving picture or a show. Today, we have software designed for platforms such as Linux that make this process much easier.
This application is aptly called, StopMotion. Available from the software repositories of most popular Linux distributions these days, it's fairly simple to use. It does require a basic understanding of how stop motion photography works, however.
9) Blender – Looking to create the next Avatar movie? How about a film like Toy Story? Then the application known as Blendermight help you get started on the right track.
Easily the single most complex application featured in this list, once it’s mastered there is very little you can't do with this software bundle. Compiled with 3D modeling options and a decent video editor, it's almost like running a movie studio from your Linux box. Maybe it’s not enough to turn you into the next Pixar, but you might feel pretty close after learning the basics of the provided software tools.
10) Comix – Relive your comic book glory days in a digital format, thanks to some great Linux software called Comix.
While the software package itself lacks any specific comic book titles that I know of, I have found that a quick Google query does turn up a number of compatible free and legal comic options that are ripe for downloading. This software is able to read digital comics in both a compressed and regular image formats.
Missing any fun Linux applications in my list?
Do you have some Linux software titles that you believe should be listed here? Don't feel left out, add your ideas to the comments below and share the software you think makes Linux fun to use in with my list. Go ahead, I’d love to hear about some of your favorite fun Linux software titles!