December 20, 2005

My Favorite Third Party Mac OS X Software

Filed under: Technology — Cory @ 1:33 am

So, back in the day I started out using Windows 95. When I learned about Linux I started using it more and more until mid-1999 when I was Linux-only on my desktop and laptop. This is the environment that I kept for the next 5 years, until one late Friday night at the office in early 2004.

I was running Debian Sid on my desktop at work, and I had dist-upgraded to pull the latest packages. I usually did this on Wednesdays of each week, but this particular week I did it on Friday. Well, as was not uncommon, X and KDE did not work upon the reboot. I was used to fixing this, so it normally wasn’t that big of a deal, but for some reason that night I decided that I was finished with this nonsense. After finally getting everything working again, I talked with my friend Mike in Austin, another long-time Debian user who was researching iBooks at the time. After an hour or so of talking with Mike, I decided what I needed to do. The next morning I woke up, drove to Fry’s in Austin and bought an iBook.

Initially it was weird, very weird. But as I came to accept the fact that Mac OS X is not Linux, things got a little easier (the `ps` command does not have an ‘f’ flag, ugh!) . Of course it was nice to have a slick music player, and an integrated mail/calendar/address book application, and those were bundled with the operating system. And before you tell me that this was available for Linux, believe me, I know. I spent years on Kmail, tried Evolution several times, and used Thunderbird after it came out. I don’t care what you say, none of it compares to the ease-of-use that I found with the Mac. But what made the whole transition really nice was all the freely available software to help mimic my Linux environment on the Mac. This is not a complete list, but here are a few of the applications that I’ve particularly enjoyed using over the past year and a half:

  • Adium – Multi-protocal instant messaging client based on the Gaim libraries. I use it for Jabber, ICQ, Yahoo Messenger and occassionally IRC and AIM.
  • Desktop Manager is an application that brings virtual desktops to Mac OS X. When I switched my desktop from Linux to Mac OS X, the thing I missed most was having virtual desktops. This little app solved that problem.
  • Firefox, of course.
  • Fugu – A really nice GUI for SFTP and SCP.
  • Handbrake – A nice little program for extracting videos and DVDs to put on my iPod.
  • MacStumbler – This helps locate wireless networks and gives information about each network.
  • QuickSynergy and Synergy – despite the awful names, these are a couple really cool apps. QuickSynergy is a graphical frontend to Synergy. According to its homepage, “Synergy lets you easily share a single mouse and keyboard between multiple computers with different operating systems, each with its own display, without special hardware.” If you have more than one computer at your desk, you should check out Synergy.
  • Skype – Talk to anyone over the Internet for free.
  • SSHKeyChain – Stores all SSH keys in the Mac OS X keychain. Basically an elaborate GUI version of ssh-agent/ssh-add.

I’d love to hear about any other useful Mac OS X applications that yall have used.

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