Dumb Questions about Finding Linux Desktop Applications

sphen

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True Confession:
I am not much of a Linux desktop user. Sure, I always have a Linux desktop in a virtual machine and use it often enough. (I have some Linux experience with servers.) My primary desktop is a Mac, and I run mostly Mac applications.

Right now, I am at a crossroads where I must upgrade my Mac operating system (macOS). The upgrade will break some of my favorite applications. Ideally, I would like to replace many of the broken applications with free equivalents that can run on macOS but can also run on a Linux desktop for the future. The kinds of applications I need are not special, just typical personal applications for organizing photos, office software, personal task / time management, personal finance, various utilities, etc.

Finding good replacement applications has not been easy:
  • Some Linux applications seem to work with any version of Linux.
    • Example: LibreOffice
  • Some Linux applications seem to be written for specific desktop managers - GNOME, KDE, etc.
  • Distros seem to have their own separately maintained "balkanized" software collections
    • Lots of overlap, but many applications are limited to a specific distro (and its descendants).
    • I think many are very comparable to one another, with much common source code, maybe?
    • Sometimes there are way too many choices with only terse descriptions to help you decide.
Finding free applications (or anything else!) through web searches is not easy:
  • There are way too many bot-generated "best choice" mashup websites with useless, contradictory information stolen from other sites the internet.
  • Comparison websites are useless. Rankings are essentially random.
  • Many human-written reviews come from people with zero understanding of what they are reviewing. They earn money by gathering and summarizing the results of their web searches. The problem is that they do it without comprehension.
    • I see articles on technical topics like "Choosing the Best Linux Distro" with author bios that read like this: "Ms Smith likes to share the best values for her school age children needs, indulge in her artistic interests like egg decorating and pasta-making, and locate great lifestyle products to get you the hot, current information you need." (Note: I made that up, but you get the idea.)
  • Very few objective reviews or detailed descriptions remain. Reviews list cursory features only, taken from product descriptions. The reviews do not include essential details or actual usage experience.
I tried an experiment here, asking for recommendations for photo organizing software in a thread. It did not work out the way I expected. People here were helpful and offered recommendations, but my follow up did not pan out very well. Web searches for the suggested applications did not yield much info, but they did lead me to discover the "balkanized" bundles of software that are related to specific distros (and maybe also their default desktop managers).

WHERE YOU CAN HELP

-> I am looking for links and generalized tutorials that better explain how free software is organized, how to find information about applications, and how to select and obtain them. I also want a better understanding of application requirements and how applications run under different Linux desktop managers and distros and alternate platforms like Mac and Windows.
-> Basically I want to teach myself this: For a given application type - Which one to pick? Is it any good? Will it run on my Mac today or a particular version of Linux in the future?
 


Package Management in Linux
 
I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but Gentoo has a page of recommended software here that has a short description of what it is.

I think the Arch pages have something similar...here.
 
I don't know if this is what you're looking for, but Gentoo has a page of recommended software here that has a short description of what it is.

I think the Arch pages have something similar...here.
Matt's post did not display correctly in my browser. You can see the full post in the quote here ^^^^. (Edit/Update: He edited his post above, so now it is fixed.)

Here are the two links from in his post. Until I quoted it here, I did not realize that he had included two different links. Both are worth a quick look to understand their content and organization:


Thanks to Matt for sharing this. Both links were incredibly helpful and revealing. The first link makes it easy to see how some application choices appear to be tightly coupled to the desktop manager (e.g., KDE, GNOME, etc.).

I have some more homework to do, but this helped "bootstrap" my understanding. Thanks!
 
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Matt's post did not display correctly in my browser. You can see the full post in the quote here ^^^^. (Edit/Update: He edited his post above, so now it is fixed.)
Oh. Yes, sorry @sphen . I hit the post button too soon when trying to create the link.
 
This site is also handy:

 
sphen wrote:
Basically I want to teach myself this: For a given application type - Which one to pick? Is it any good? Will it run on my Mac today or a particular version of Linux in the future?
On the question of "will it run on my Mac?", basically, if it's in the homebrew repos available to Mac, it'll run on both linux and Mac. It's possible to run a Mac almost resembling a linux system if you include the xcode tools and the homebrew repos. Virtually what's available in linux is available for Macs. The inverse isn't the case though. That's the case for the Mac UNIX based OSs.
 
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I would like to thank those who responded to this thread. The links and information you provided above are very helpful. It will take some time to go through it and find the parts I need. I learned a lot, and appreciate your comments.
 


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