Minimally Competent Linux Apps

Yesterday's question and the Linux user response bugs me:

"because they are writing actually useful software, and not bells-and-frippery bullshit."

That's just a horrific anti-user attitude. I want nothing but suffering for the developers & maintainers of Linux, but the poor bastards using it are still people, and people deserve software that doesn't suck.

So I duckduckwent for some clickbait and picked out some non-system apps.


I'm going to mark these X for Cross-Platform, L for Linux-only, or NL for Not on Linux, and a completely biased first impression (unless I've used it) star rating:

  • X ★★★☆☆: VLC Media Player: Generally quite awful but it works, sometimes the only thing that does on random torrented videos.
  • X ★★★☆☆: Firefox: Meh. The Meh of browsers, leftover squeezings from the corpse of Netscape/Mozilla. The old rendering engine was good, but then the web moved on, and the new engine struggles to keep up. But not unusable.
  • X ★☆☆☆☆: GIMP: Now you're just being mean, Techradar. Nobody deserves to be GIMPed, and it may be against the Geneva Conventions.
  • X ★★☆☆☆: Deluge actually looks kind of decent for a generic torrent client. Hate those stock GNOME(?) toolbar icons.
  • X ★★☆☆☆: Thunderbird: Oh, I remember that. I briefly used it between mutt on BSD, and Apple Mail once I trusted the Mac. I'm sure it's as annoying to use as ever, but it works.
  • X ★☆☆☆☆: LibreOffice: "Because libre is free, man" (tokes). Sure, it barely opens Office documents and often corrupts them, and its feature set is spartan to nonexistent, and it looks like ass, but… uh… I guess it's all you got on Linux? Microsoft Office now runs on Mac, iOS, and Android, so maybe you could run the Android Office instead?
  • X ★★★☆☆: Pidgin: I think this is developed first on Windows, and then they also have a Gtk+ port that runs on Mac & Linux. There's just kind of an antiseptic, joyless smell to Windows software even with a filthy pigeon mascot.
  • X ★★☆☆☆: Audacity: Hideously ugly, impossibly awkward, but often the only audio editor that solves quick editing of multi-track WAVs. I loathe Audacity but use it a couple times a week.
  • X ★★★★☆: Chrome: Competent Google behemoth browser, if there was no Safari I guess I'd use Chrome. Instead it's my Flash-running trash silo.
  • X ☆☆☆☆☆: Copay: I don't consider Ponzi scams legitimate software. How do intelligent people fall for this shit?
  • X ★☆☆☆☆: Fucking Skype: Fucking Skype, can you hear me? Can… Can you hear me calling? Shit everyone hang up and call back in. No, now you sound like a robot, too. FUCKING SKYPE.
  • L ★★☆☆☆: Corebird: No shit, a Linux-only, Gtk+ Twitter client. Supposedly full-featured, at least until Twitter shuts off the API. I hate the big buttons and the weird padding and text boxes that don't fill all horizontal space, it's simultaneously claustrophobic and agoraphobic, which is amazebad. Icon is a bird with its brain exposed like Hannibal Lector is about to scoop it out. I… This is a work of comedy genius, or insanity. But kudos, Linux guys, on your first app.
  • L ★★★☆☆: Evince: Like Preview on Mac, a thing you don't realize is even software. Which is about as high praise as you're gonna get.
  • X ★★☆☆☆: Clementine: I've tried this on the Mac during one of my fits of temper at iTunes. It's functional but not as nice as iTunes (!!!), but for Linux I'm sure it's intolerable since they can't play music without it stuttering or being interrupted, because Linus is an incompetent bozo who doesn't realize real-time audio matters. Also hasn't had an official release or news in 2 years, tho the github repo shows more recent activity. Have fun compiling and running from HEAD!
  • NL: Dropbox: Linuxhint tells people to use Dropbox website despite having no Linux app. That may be the saddest thing I've seen all day, and I just watched a TV show where a man saw two of his sons shot dead, and then he was shot dead and his other son is in prison now. This is the weeping song
  • L ★★★★☆: Cumulus QT: Real-time weather in a nice UI. No web site, just a github repo, but seriously, the first good thing I've seen in this entire mess.
  • X ★★★★★: Krita: A cross-platform but really excellent paint program, somewhat in the style of Fractal Design Painter or any of those. I wasn't even aware it ran on Linux, it's been around in the Mac & Windows world for a while. Doesn't really replace Photoshop/GIMP/Acorn/GraphicConverter for pixel-fucking, but for painting on the computer it's quite good.
  • X ★★☆☆☆: OpenShot: Video editor, awful generic UI and more GNOME icons, and I've heard it described as slower than paint drying, but not my kind of thing to even evaluate.

So that was a parade of mostly the shittiest cross-platform apps ever, that I wouldn't allow on my computer. A couple are respectable. It looks like Cumulus and maybe some GNOME people are the only decent desktop devs on Linux? There are good cross-platform apps not listed, so I suspect "Linux users have no aesthetic sense" is a big part of this, no recognition for even trying.

I'm not going to attempt this for Windows, ain't enough whiskey in the world for that.

Non-Apple Development: Does It Exist?

By no means the first time I've seen this sentiment:

Still interesting to see people talking passionately about the Open Web and how bad silos are (which is good)
whilst simultaneously linking only to Apple things and app-locked things in general; the web is still here and
it damned sure isn’t exclusive to Apple and your phone.

The thing is, Android, Linux, & Windows devs don't step up and produce good apps or attractive web sites, so what else would anyone link to?

I presume most of the non-Microsoft-employed Windows devs are in enterprise, doing something awful with SAP or Excel or Outlook; I'm not really familiar with their universe, but they certainly don't make a lot of nice end-user software, and they don't hang out on any obvious nerd sites. Are they ashamed to admit what they do? Do they not have Internet access? That 95% of the desktop computer market has a nearly invisible developer population is weird. There's some Windows game bros, eating C++ bugs and mostly being dicks to everyone, but they're not making end-user software (Coming soon: Call of Duty: Mind Mapping Edition!)

Linux devs do sometimes make end-user software, but it's unspeakably awful, like GIMP. Server-side, sure, there's plenty of systems, though I think not many people live and develop on it. My bias is admitted: I loathe Linux as though I were Edmond Dantès himself and Linux had imprisoned me (which in effect it did), and I have sworn eternal vengeance. But my impression is that most server software devs work on Macs, or rarely Windows, and use git or Docker uploads to get everything on Linux.

Android software is almost always made after a web or iOS prototype, and generally as an afterthought; nobody makes Android-first apps except basic system utilities like wallpaper-changers.

There is web-first stuff, including now cross-platform web tech, which could in theory be built on Linux or Windows; yet it seems that most end-user web devs making anything nice are, again, Mac users. If you have any aesthetic sense at all, if you want a nice UNIX environment but don't just work in emacs, it's the least terrible option.

There's an old joke,

"Never ask someone if they use a Mac. If they don't, don't embarrass them; if they do, they'll tell you."

This might be more true than it seems, maybe Mac nerds just talk about it constantly? But why don't others?

If you make end-user software for other platforms, I'd like to hear how, and why, and why it's so invisible?

Remember OpenMoko?

Mickey's Story (to be read with Brian's Song playing)

Lessons: Linux & GTK+ are terrible, hardware guys making decisions without design & software direction are terrible, open doesn't help if you run a shitty stack. I ♥️ Python, but not in a kernel.

That puck phone was the ugliest thing in the world, and it couldn't reliably make or receive phone calls, which in 2007 would've been feature #1 in a phone.

The design mockups are hilarious, Photoshop without any connection to shippable code.

And the Commodore PET sucked.

You Have Updates

WordPress just told me I have a bunch of updates, so I pushed the button, at my convenience. iPhone has a bunch of updates, but I certainly don't have autoupdate turned on, I'll look at those when I feel like it.

I don't understand how people put up with their software deciding to "update" on them without permission.

Mac is insistent with the "updates waiting" dialog, but you can tell it to fuck off indefinitely.

Linux is like a broken car you have to go dumpster-diving to find new parts for.

But Windows breaks into your home to change your shit around. Just no.


Indie game dev leads you to some dark and terrible places.

I so miss the App Store being an endless payout slot machine without spending $10M on advertising, and miss the 6-figure jobs for fixing peoples' apps because nobody knew Objective-C (even less know it now, but they're stupidly trying to rewrite code they don't understand into Swift, which will break again in 6 months).

Now I'm a poor but honest pixel farmer, forced to shovel shit to get to market.

Making a Mac binary for Reaper's Crypt was trivial (on a Mac, probably impossible elsewhere), and produced 1 file: "Reaper's" (a Mac application bundle, hiding all the mess so you don't see it).

Making a Linux binary was not much harder, and produced 17 files and directories, with libraries and data scattered all over, with the binary sitting in the middle where nobody could see it. So I'll have to make a little script to go launch that untidy mess. When I did Linux, there were at least 3 standards for icons, and by now I'm sure there are 13 more, so they get a raw image file.

Making a Windows binary required me to install WINE with MacPorts, which took hours, and the binary is in the middle of a similar mess of 20 files and directories. So for this I need an installer to make a .msi file, which nobody I know has done this decade; I think I have a handle on this. But now I don't know if I need 32-bit "win32" or 64-bit "win32" (what.); there's no fat binaries in Windows, so it's one or the other.

I am not Hercules, and these Augean stables are filthy.