Category Archives: Software

My favorite apps

So, what is my favorite programs in the computer world?

Web browsing: Google Chromium (not to be confused with Google Chrome)

This is a simple browser which gets me where I want fast. I have the possibility to “take my bookmarks” with me to another computer that also have Chromium, if I am logged in to my Google account in the browser. However, since I do not want Google to know everything about me, I have disabled this in my Chromium browsers.

Text editor: Gedit

A simple to use text editor which has many advanced features available to it. Definitively one of my favorite apps in the computer world, since I have web development as one of my hobbies and I diligently use it. It has syntax highlighting for many different languages, such as html, php, C++ and Java to name a few of those.

Gaming: Minetest

A Minecraft-like game where you can dig yourself underground, build streets, buildings, caves and hide from or fight mobs. In the newest nightly builds there are no mobs, so you can build things in a big sandbox-like world but on the other hand, you could stumble on some irritating bugs. You have also the possibility, like in minecraft, to start a server and play in one map with your friends. There are also some mods, maps and other stuff that you can find in their website to add into your minetest game.

Score editing: MuseScore

This is a free, multi-platform software which lets you start writing scores right away. I use this in my education when my teacher would want to have some scores arranged. I have the possibility to save the score in .pdf-format or music xml, which lets score writing programs share scores between them. There is also a website that lets MuseScore users share their sheet music with each-other.

Office software: LibreOffice

A spinn-of from OpenOffice. LibreOffice started to be developed when Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and in the fear of that it would discontinue the OpenOffice project or place some restrictions onto it. It fulfills my needs in the case of office software.

All of the presented software products are open source or free software. Both as in freedom and as in free beer.

A review of Minetest

Minetest gameplay in Ubuntu

Minetest gameplay in Ubuntu, shown with the madblocks mod.

Minetest is a game which is in the style of Infiniminer or Minecraft. It is a sandbox game, you can explore the vast land (limited to +-31000 blocks), mine, craft and make fortresses if you want. It is also free/open source software and can be downloaded for free as well.

There are two versions at this time, the stable 0.3 version and the current-in-development 0.4 version. There are some differences in the 0.3 and 0.4 versions, and in my opinion the 0.4 version is more fun to play. There are only two drawbacks in the 0.4 version, and that is:

  • No enemies, but there are three in the stable 0.3 version.
  • Apples (these give you life in minetest, but you do not hunger in minetest) are quite rare compared to 0.3.

However, there has been some major improvements if you compare the stable 0.3 version and the developmental 0.4 version. The improvements include:

  • Sound is added
  • Better graphics
  • Easier to make and include mods

So, if you would like a more Minecraft-like experience with e.g. with redstone or ores, you can download some mods and (in Ubuntu 12.04, and Minetest 0.4) put them in the “/mods/minetest/” folder if it exists. Otherwise you would have to make the folders within your Minetest folder. I know that my friend, which I visited a few days ago was quite thrilled when he saw that the game had developed as much as it had from version 0.3 to 0.4. And he is a (what I would call a die-hard) Minecraft-gamer, so it is probably the best result you can get.

I have had quite fun with this game, and I hope you will enjoy it too.

An alternative to Windows or Mac

Yes, you have guessed it right. I am going to talk about a distribution of Gnu/Linux, or Linux. *

Linux Mint is an easy operating system, in the matter of user-friendliness. You do not need to think whether you would need to install X or Y, you can run the operating system right after installation. Of course, if you want to install a package, you can easily do that through the software manager. There you can browse multiple programs, called “packages”, such as games, web browsers and image editors to name a few.

It is completely without fee (if you download the .iso package), and the only thing that you would need would be either a CD/DVD disc or usb stick that can hold the size of the .iso file. It should work directly out-of-the-box, but if you would need some extra packages (that could not be included due to legal reasons) just install them easily through the software manager.

Remember, if you install this on your computer, all your files on your hard drive will be removed. This is true, if you install it onto the whole hard drive. So remember to make a backup of your hard drive if something would go wrong or if you would regret installing it.

* There is a controversy about the naming of the operating system, since the kernel is called Linux and the user-land/packages on top of the kernel is made of GNU‘s tools.

Free music studio software

LMMS shown on Ubuntu
Lmms running on Ubuntu

LMMS is in my opinion an okay alternative to those commercial music studio software that is available out there. It is described following at their website:

LMMS is a free cross-platform alternative to commercial programs like FL Studio®, which allow you to produce music with your computer. This includes the creation of melodies and beats, the synthesis and mixing of sounds, and arranging of samples. You can have fun with your MIDI-keyboard and much more; all in a user-friendly and modern interface.

There are some sound demos that can be found here and screenshots can be found here. However, you can not make tracks where you record sounds. But you can use Audacity to fulfill that need. Both LMMS and Audacity works on Windows, Mac and Gnu/Linux but LMMS could need some extra tweaking to work with Mac os.

Free music notation software

MuseScore default screen
MuseScore default screen shown on Ubuntu.

I myself am a musician, and I sometimes need to write sheet music as homework since I also am a music student. And occasionally I also write music of my own, but have not the economy to buy those proprietary products that is quite popular in the music world, i.e. Sibelius and Finale. So I was quite happy when I found out about MuseScore, a completely free score writing program, with some neat features in my opinion.

The features are: Multilingual (my screenshot shows swedish), you can have up to four voices per staff, lyrics and more. So before you decide to purchase the commercial, proprietary score editors you should try this out.

It is both free as in freedom as in no cost. The software is available for Windows, Mac and GNU/Linux.

Next Post

Mims well

As I have said, I am very passionate about free software. But to completely make the change towards a completely free operating systems is like starting to swim at deep water, if you have not swum before. Not always a good idea. So there are some software, that is both “free as in freedom” and “free as in free beer” that you can try out if your operating system is Windows or Mac.

Here are different categories of free/open source software that you can use in your Windows or Mac operating system:

Office software

LibreOffice is a great replacement for office software, such as Microsoft’s proprietary Office software. This includes the programs you need to write documents, spreadsheets and databases (and more). It is stable, and was initially forked from OpenOffice since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems.

Web browsing

Mozilla Firefox is my default browser and I am quite…

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Android – a smartphone amongs others?

There are a lot of smartphones out there and each one of them fulfills a different need. Android is, in my opinion, an unique operating system when it comes to them used in mobile devices. What makes this so unique then? Is it the diversity of apps that you can download? No, not in my opinion. It is that it is free/open source software. Unfortunately, there are vendors that distribute proprietary programs among the Android os itself.

But there are some hope for those of us who want a completly free Android system. FSFE has launched a project called “Free your Android” and the aim is just to take away the proprietary software from your Android device. There are two different Android based projects, CyanogenMod that is not fully “Free as in freedom” and Replicant OS that is fully free as in freedom. Accordingly to fsfe, CyanogenMod is also the most popular aftermarket distro of Android.

So, in my opinion, you should choose Replicant OS if you can. The major drawback with it, is that the supported devices are slim.

Another thing that is worrying when it comes to free software in Android is the source of all apps. In Android market you are bound to have an account at Google if you want to download apps, and the source does not tell you if the software is free or not. Neither does it tell you which license the software is bound to. But there is good news here, too.

F-Droid is a repository containing only FOSS software for your Android device. You can browse through the apps and choose between different versions of the programs.

So, if you would like a completely free Android, there is hope!