Linux alternatives to Windows software

New Variety

Handling Video

As with audio players, there are countless video players available on Linux, and these almost universally outperform the range of functions and user-friendliness of Windows Media Player. Windows users are therefore turning to the free media market-leader VLC, which not only uses different sources, but is also excellently equipped with codecs for playing a huge variety of file and container formats. There are other desktop-specific players available on Linux, such as the independently developed MPlayer, the software xine, or the slim and exotic ROSA Media Player (Figure 5).

Figure 5: The recently deceased actor Bud Spencer fights once more on VLC Media Player.

Windows Movie Maker (whose development has been discontinued), and programs such as Sony Vegas Pro or its little sister Sony Vegas Movie Studio set the tone in terms of video editing in the Windows world. The best-known counterparts on Linux are Cinelerra, Kdenlive, Kino, and Pitivi. The professional free video editor Shotcut also falls into this category.

Burning and Ripping

Some smaller shareware and freeware projects for producing optical media have been established for Windows, notably Nero Burning ROM, which is often included with optical drives in slimmed-down variants. It was also available for Linux at one time, but has since been brought back. That might be due to the strong competition. Some of the burning programs that line up on Linux are K3b for KDE, Brasero on Gnome, Xfburn on Xfce, and X-CD-Roast as an independent and especially lightweight alternative.

Several sophisticated programs are available for ripping CDs and DVDs on Linux, while at best you can fall back on DVD Shrink (development now discontinued) or DVDFab when using Windows. Linux users can particularly make use of dvd::rip, K9Copy, OGMRip, or Vamps. The applications are not just for copying optical media with audio or videos but can also sometimes compress lossy videos.

System Tools

Unlike the Windows monoculture with the Explorer, a colorful variety flourishes on Linux when it comes to file managers. The software spectrum ranges from the Norton Commander clone Midnight Commander, with its rustic appearance, to tools such as Dolphin, Thunar, or Nautilus, which belong with the big desktops, to convenient programs such as emelFM2, or the agile XFE (Figure 6).

Figure 6: emelfm2 offers a two-window mode.

The proprietary and payment-based Partition Manager by Paragon is considered the undisputed top dog for setting up mass storage within the Windows universe. Microsoft contributes equivalent programs with basic functions for its various Windows versions. In the meantime, the free alternatives, partly working as a live system based on Linux, have divided this market amongst themselves. This means Gnome Disks, GParted, Partimage, and QtParted offer significantly more functions than Windows' own programs (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Gnome Disks (bottom right) and the KDE Partition Manager (top left).

The area of backup solutions for small businesses and home users is increasingly developing into a Linux domain, thanks to free software. Although Acronis True Image and Paragon Backup & Recovery primarily work this field in a commercial context on Windows, some different and sometimes significantly more powerful free counterparts have made a name for themselves. Examples include Areca Backup, Bacula, Clonezilla, and Duplicity. Additionally, programs like FreeFileSync, Conduit, or the Java software DirSync Pro help out with synchronizing data.

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