Linux for the OS X user

This page is all about using Linux as an OS (perhaps on a second machine) when your online life is built around OS X.

Following the sudden and tragic death of my iBook, I am attempting to survive with my 8 year old PII as my main PC, running Linux (FC5). This is a temporary measure, but on this page I will note the applications and utilities that have helped me regain some of the functionality I am used to, including iLife and the OS X “look and feel”.

Web Browsing

I already use Mozilla Firefox at work. In some ways it is already superior to Safari, but to feel at home I’ve added the iFox metal theme. Live bookmarks are neat, but I miss Safari’s built in feed reader and seeing the number of new posts in the bookmark bar.


Being happy with Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird seemed an obvious choice for mail. It’s easy to set up with .mac using SMTP and it’s very quick. I’ve made myself at home with theTiger Mail Theme (though Thunderbird themes are not as easy to install as those for Firefox). However, I’ve got to train it to filter junk mail all over again. I haven’t figured a way to sync the Thunderbird addressbook with .mac, either.

Photo Management

I’ve used Picasa on Windows and found it satisfactory, so despite some native, open source Linux alternative to iPhoto I went for Picasa for Linux.  This is actually just Picasa for Windows bundled with Google’s customised version of Wine.  It won’t burn CDs and it won’t (ironically) export to PicasaWeb but in most respects it’s just like the Windows version.  Including, in fact, having Windows menus and dialogue boxes, since it’s running under Wine, which feels a bit odd.  All the same installing the rpm took 5 minutes and it was ready to go, so off it went scanning my desktop for whatever images it could find.

I’m quite impressed by Picasa’s ease of use and flexibility.  It offers more functions that iPhoto (especially to someone who’s been running it on a G3) and it’s fairly intuitive to use.  But it lacks the polish of iPhoto and the big thing that’s missing is integration with iTunes and iMovie; there are no Ken Burns slideshows with your favorite playlist to accompany.

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