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4 Windows apps I can’t let go

Monday, 19 November 2007 linux

If you’ve read anything by me in the past month, you’ve probably seen that I moved to Linux. I’m extremely happy here but I still find myself loading Windows in VMWare for several tasks.

Linux is awesome. It’s both prettier and faster than Windows and I’ve found myself falling in love applications like gedit because they’re both simple and incredibly powerful (tabs, code highlighting, remote editing, line numbers, language lookups, spell checking and full, key-bindable scripting access to do anything else!)

However, while I’ve replaced most of my apps, I still have to boot a virtual machine running Windows to complete my workflow. Some of these are particular to who I am and how I’m most comfortable working, but I’m willing to say there are probably a few other people out there struggling in similar situations.

  1. Adobe Fireworks is a jack-of-most-trades bitmap and vector drawing application. It’s integral to my workflow because its options for slicing up and optimising are so radically simple compared to apps like Photoshop and just as powerful. It’s just the right mix of vector, bitmap and web for me and there’s nothing like it for any platform.

    I’ve just found that the MX2004 version works fine under WINE so I may fall back to that, and in all honesty, they haven’t introduced any features in the last three versions that I actually use.

  2. In a similar vein, I’m just as addicted to Adobe Illustrator. AI is a superb vector imaging package that I use for my more industrious designs (like the current one). And here’s the big problem: I’ve got years of work trapped in Adobe formats.

    However, I think Illustrator is far more likely to be replaced than Fireworks, namely because lots of people want a viable alternative too, whereas Fireworks is just a little too niche and general at the same time. Inkscape and Xara Xtreme look promising but they’re still a long distance from keeping up with Illustrator.

  3. This one is all my fault. I’m an idiot for mentioning it in a list like this but I’m tethered to IIS (web server) and Visual Studio for ASP.NET development. It’s just an awesome set of tools that make life doing fairly complicated programming as simple as possible. In other words, I’m not looking to replace C# with another language.

    Mono is looking like it might be a viable alternative further down the line, but it’s always going to be several steps behind and I’m not going to get involved until the Mono runtime works with proper MSIL generated against .NET packages, and the .NET runtime runs MSIL generated against Mono packages… If that ever happens.

  4. The last and most surprising one out of all this is Explorer. Yes, the crappy, always-crashing file manager (amongst other things) for Windows.

    This is probably down to my stupidity, but I can’t find a decent way to find files by filename in a specific folder in Nautilus. Every time I try doing a search, it comes back with a list of files from a random directory, so I just share the dir (if it’s not already shared) with the VM, open up Explorer, navigate to the dir I want to search in, press F3 and I’m where I want to be.

    From the terminal, I can use find, but this makes it a bugger if I want to find things on SMB shares, ssh connections, etc, soft-mounted through Nautilus. If I’m being a fool, please kick me in the right direction.

What are my chances of ever getting off these?

Adobe are, I think, going to remain best-of-breed software producers for some time — they just need to get their arse in gear and realise there are more than two platforms where people want to do design. I’m not saying FOSS organisations shouldn’t bother trying to make alternatives, just they’re going to have to be damned good in plenty of respects.

Microsoft won’t be making Linux software for years… A decade if I had to guess, and by then, I’d say it’s too late — I won’t want their software.