Some Computer Hints

Alternative Applications

As a quarter century Windows user who has switched to Ubuntu Linux in March of 2019, my main task was to create an experience under Linux similar to the one I was accustomed under Windows. Ubuntu Linux is a mature operating system and most application needs are either fulfilled out of the box (just by installing the Ubuntu Desktop operating system) or can easily be installed by using the Software Center tool or using command line (sudo apt install package_name). As a general rule, you should first try the software provided in Ubuntu repositories and if that does not fit your needs, you should search for third party or proprietary software. It turned out that more than 90 percent of my needs were fulfilled from Ubuntu repository.

In the following table, I give a list of the tools and applications that I had been using under Windows and the corresponding software I decided to use under Ubuntu. Please note that some simple tools can easily be created by writing some short Bash scripts. This will completely eliminate the need to install a GUI tool, provided that you are comfortable with command line.

Below, in the middle column, I tried to give a feedback on how good or bad was my Ubuntu experience with the solution I decided to follow in Ubuntu with respect to my previous experience under Windows. The meanings of the signs are as follows:

  • ++: Much better
  • +: Slightly good
  • =: Almost the same
  • -: Slightly bad
  • --: Much worse

Note that these grades were not given for a complete comparison of the tools, but they are only an indication of how well these tools serve my special needs. For example, tool A may be far better than tool B; however, if the subset of the features that I have used in both tools are almost identically adequate to fulfill my needs, then they will get an = mark.

Windows Exp. Ubuntu
Device Management
  • Windows Device Manager
  • Windows System Information
- / =
  • System Profiler and Benchmark (hardinfo)
  • Command line utilities like:
    # hwinfo --short
    # lshw -short
    $ lsusb
    $ lspci
    $ lsmem
    $ lsblk
    # dmidecode
Disk Management and Information
  • Disk Management from Windows Computer Management
  • CrystalDiskInfo (for S.M.A.R.T. info)
+ / -
  • Disks: gnome-disks (Ubuntu)
  • GSmartControl: gsmartcontrol (Ubuntu)
System Monitoring
  • Windows Task Manager
  • Windows Resource Monitor
  • Process Explorer
  • Windows Event Viewer
  • System Monitor: gnome-system-monitor (Ubuntu)
  • top, htop, ps, /proc filesystem, lsof (command line)
  • Log files under /var/log, journalctl (command line), gnome-logs
Task Scheduling
Windows Task Scheduler + cron, anacron, systemd
Command Prompt
cmd.exe ++ gnome-terminal
System Menu and Shortcuts
Open-Shell Menu - Applications Menu and/or Dash to Panel (GNOME Shell Extensions)
(See also .desktop file specification)
Office Tools
Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) (not free!) = LibreOffice (Writer, Calc, Impress, etc.) libreoffice (installed by default)
= / -
  • ESET NOD32 Antivirus (some problems with virus database update and also with
  • ClamAV: clamscan (Ubuntu)
VMware Workstation Player + VirtualBox: virtualbox (Ubuntu)
Virtual Printer (to save ink and paper)
FinePrint (not free!) + Boomaga: boomaga (Ubuntu)
PDF Viewer
SumatraPDF =
  • Evince Document Viewer: evince (pre-installed)
  • SumatraPDF (under Wine)
PIM Tool
Personal Notes File = Personal Notes File
Other Built-in Simple Tools
calc.exe, notepad.exe, charmap.exe, Control Panel, fontview.exe, snippingtool.exe, Windows Picture Viewer... - / + gnome-calculator, gedit, gucharmap (gnome-characters), gnome-control-center, gnome-font-viewer, gnome-screenshot -i, eog (Image Viewer)...
File Management
Windows File Explorer - / +
  • Files: nautilus (Ubuntu)
  • Thunar: thunar (Ubuntu)
Searching Files
  • find, locate (command line)
  • Searchmonkey: searchmonkey (can be integrated to Thunar)
  • Nautilus search
Disk / Directory Utilization
WinDirStat =
  • Disk Usage Analyzer: baobab (Ubuntu)
  • du (command line)
Bulk File Rename
  • rename (command line)
  • Bash script with a loop
  • thunar --bulk-rename (can be integrated to Thunar)
  • Renamer tool under Wine
Filesystem / Whole Disk Encryption
VeraCrypt =
  • VeraCrypt
  • LUKS (Ubuntu)
File Compression and Archive
7-Zip - / =
  • Archive Manager: file-roller (Ubuntu)
  • 7z, zip, or tar (command line)
Backup Tool
  • Windows Backup and Restore
  • Cobian Backup
  • Batch files using 7-Zip
- Bash scripts using 7z or zip
File and Folder Synchronization
- rsync (command line)
File Comparison
Windiff - diff -r (command line)
  • gpg (command line; pre-installed)
  • Kleopatra certificate manager and unified crypto GUI: kleopatra (Ubuntu)
Network / Internet
Windows Firewall with Advanced Security + / - Uncomplicated Firewall: ufw (command line)
Mail and Calendar
Thunderbird = Thunderbird
Contact Management
Google Contacts (web based) = Google Contacts (web based)
Web Browsing
  • Firefox (installed by default)
  • Google Chrome
Web Server and SSH Client / Server
Apache and OpenSSH (Cygwin) ++ Apache and OpenSSH (installed by default or can be easily installed from Ubuntu repositories)
(S)FTP File Transfer
FileZilla + No need for FileZilla; there is build-in support for (S)FTP connection using gvfs.
  • Viber for Desktop
  • WhatsApp Web
Cloud Storage
= / -
  • Dropbox Client
  • There is no official Google Drive client for Linux; but you can use rclone and Online Accounts in Settings to copy files.
  • pCloud Client
Peer-to-Peer File Sharing
= / -
Other Network-Related Tools
= / +
  • linSSID: linssid-pkexec (Ubuntu)
  • No need for OpenVPN client; go to Settings | Network | VPN to import your client configuration file.
  • wireguard-tools (Ubuntu)
  • Electrum Bitcoin Wallet (download from its web site)
  • Remote Desktop Client: remmina (Ubuntu)
  • vnStat daemon and command line tool: vnstat (Ubuntu)
Graphics / Audio / Video
Image Viewing
Windows Photo viewer = Image Viewer: eog (Ubuntu)
Image Editing
PhotoFiltre = / +
Image Stitching
Microsoft Image Composite Editor (retired) ? Hugin (Ubuntu). I haven’t tested yet.
Video Player
  • Videos: totem (installed by default)
  • VLC Media Player: vlc (Ubuntu)
Video Conversion
  • MKVToolNix
  • TEncoder video converter (discontinued)
= ?
  • MKVToolNix: mkvtoolnix-gui (Ubuntu)
  • I haven’t tested other tools yet
Audio Encoding
  • Windows Media Player (pre-installed)
  • LameXP
= K3b: k3b (Ubuntu)
USB Image Scanner
Canon CanoScan LiDE 90 Software - CanoScan LiDE 90 is supported under Linux. However, the scanner software provided by default in Ubuntu (simple-scan or xsane) does not perform well. So, I installed Windows XP in a VirtualBox virtual machine. After installing the Windows driver and software which I downloaded from Canon’s web site, I was able to use my scanner as usual. Note: By using VirtualBox’s Shared Folders feature you can save the scanned images directly into a directory on your Ubuntu host.
CD / DVD Burning Software
  • Xfburn: xfburn (Ubuntu)
  • K3b: k3b (Ubuntu)
  • Brasero: brasero (Ubuntu)
Software Development
GUI Programming
Free Pascal and Lazarus = Free Pascal and Lazarus (download from its web site)
Compiled Languages
GNU C, make, gdb, etc. (Cygwin) + GNU C, make, gdb, etc. (pre-installed)
Advanced Text Editing
Notepad++ = Geany, FeatherPad, Kate, Notepadqq, or notepad-plus-plus (Wine) (from Ubuntu snap store)
Command-Line Scripting
  • Windows .BAT files
  • Bash scripts (Cygwin)
++ Bash scripts
Other Scripting Tools
Perl, PHP, Python, etc. (Cygwin) + Perl, PHP, Python, etc. (pre-installed)

More Alternatives

If you need to explore more alternatives, a good starting point will be the AlternativeTo web site.