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Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Communications Apps

Introduction

Tom's Linux Series For Windows Power Users

Part 1: Installing Ubuntu Linux
Part 2: Internet Application Roundup
Part 3: Communications Application Roundup

In the previous segment of Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup, we looked into Internet Apps. These were defined as applications that rely on Internet access to connect the user to the Web at large.

In this segment, we will be focusing on communications applications. While these apps still rely on Internet access to function, their focus is to allow the user to communicate with other individuals using the Internet simply as a transit medium. We will go over Personal Information Managers (PIM), email clients, Instant Messengers (IM), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) software, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) clients. That means replacements for Outlook, Outlook Express, Trillian, and mIRC are to be found within. Many of these apps you may already be using in Windows. Mozilla Thunderbird, Skype, Pidgin IM, and others have native Linux installations available, too.

Semanticians may point out that most of these apps appear in the Internet category in the Ubuntu Applications menu. So why weren't they in the last installment of Internet Apps? Well, these apps started out in the Internet Apps section of this roundup, but the Linux software environment is a diverse one, and I quickly found that there were enough options out there to sub-divide further. So, I had to come up with some form of distinction other than what the GNOME menu gave me. It's also true that some of these apps, personal information managers in particular, may feel more at home in the Office section of the Applications menu. Truth be told, the upcoming Office Apps installment was actually written first and, like Internet Apps, that one is a real monster as well. Hence, some of the office software is making an appearance in this segment, too.

As with the previous installment of Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup, feel free to skip to the sections that interest you. Links to the appropriate installers are provided so that you can check out the apps for yourselves.

  • mitch074
    I'd like to add something to the article...

    - Skype for Linux is currently in version 2.1 (beta) which differs from 2.0 (final) only in the fact that it is now able to deal with ALSA, OSS and PulseAudio transparently - and it doesn't wreck webcam outputs as much.
    - Skype for Linux has supported video ever since version 2.0 (beta); it does work quite well if your webcam sends uncompressed video to the system (if your webcam streams MJPEG and you have a 2.6.28+ kernel, you will need some hacker-fu; details on demand)
    - a quite well known single protocol IM is aMSN, which is also multiplatform; its other main advantage is that it supports voice and video chats. However, it's not always very stable and requires manual setting up of a TCP port for video and voice to work properly.
    Reply
  • How about benchmarking the applications. Which ones use more ram vs. functionality? How about responsiveness and stability? Those are questions I would like to see laid out because much of the Linux user base have older hardware and don't like things eating away their CPUs and ram.
    Reply
  • oralward
    You should really cover something with kde desktop as only because of protest by gnome users is it still the default desktop in any of the three versions you are covering. Its also easier for someone coming from windows. There is a version of ubuntu called Kubuntu that uses kde. This is the other main desktop.
    Reply
  • amdfangirl
    I'll agree, kde rules but GMOME s what begineers use often.
    Reply
  • Great article.

    As far as KDE vs. Gnome, I see no problem with the current format, maybe just do a Ubuntu(Gnome) vs. Kubuntu(KDE) vs. Xubuntu(Xfce) vs. MoonOS/OpenGEU/JAD(Enlightenment) roundup, to show off the different desktops(and the few apps that only work on a particular desktop). Any look good with the right theme and some Compiz/Beryl, but KDE and Enlightenment have an edge right out of the box.
    Reply
  • rrockman
    It's... "Surprising" that you didn't analyze Mercury, one of the most advanced multi-account IM apps.
    Reply
  • haplo602
    ah gui only options ... well have a look at CenterIM when you have time. It's a great little IM tool that runs in the terminal. This way I can get to my client everywhere with just a simple ssh client :-)
    Reply
  • "The one major protocol that Empathy supports and Pidgin doesn't is the increaasingly-popular Jabber."
    This is just plain wrong. Pidgin has supported Jabber for a long time. It's called XMPP in the later versions which is the name of the protocol used by jabber clients
    Reply
  • rdawise
    Again, I praise Mr. Overa's coverage of Linux. I am looking forward to the Games section of Linux since I don't have much experience with native games.
    Reply
  • jppayne2
    "My major problem with Thunderbird is that it will continually ask for confirmation to ignore a security certificate every time it checks for new mail, by default, every ten minutes. Most of the other clients in this roundup give you the option to always accept or ignore."

    Actually, Thunderbird allows you to permanently accept the certificate, which will do what you want. Just pay attention when the confirmation dialog comes up, and select "Accept this certificate permanently". It's the first option (the default is the second option, which is to accept the certificate for the current session).
    Reply