Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gadget Goodies 4

I’ve been getting back into using linux, after a number of years away. And the experience has been interesting.  It’s given me a few thoughts on some of the available distros and why some might be a nice alternative to Win8, etc.  And how it narrowed my Bible software choices.

I’ve tried the latest long term support version of Ubuntu, which sports a desktop that’s very different from the norm.  I’m still getting used to that.  I’ve also tried the latest version of a well known distro (short for distribution) that I’d used before.  The latest set of updates trashed my kernel for that distro.  For the less tech folks, the kernel is the operating core.  Without a kernel, it doesn’t work.  So, I’ve had Interesting experiences.

What I’ve been using on several machines is a variation of Ubuntu, called Linux Mint.  It installs easily, was the only distro to recognize my less popular brand laser printer, the UI is enough like Windows to be familiar, but not enough to be boring.  And both of my favorite browsers are available.  Having said that, there are areas where linux comes up shy of Windows and Mac OS.  The makers of the various linux distros are small and don’t have large highly paid engineering staffs like Microsoft, Apple and many of the software producers for those platforms.  Nonetheless, Linux Mint (and some others) are good enough for must productivity uses of a computer.  There are free office suites that have both linux and Windows versions and are compatible with the most recent versions of Office.  Linux Mint can be found at: http://bit.ly/YnQgfB.

As you’ve probably realized realized by now, I’m big on software that’s usable on multiple platforms.  And my foray back into the wilds of linux brought an interesting result.  There’s a piece of linux software called Wine.  It’s described as a compatibility layer that allows some (not all) Windows programs to run under linux.  And, as with other things, Linux Mint made installing Wine very easy.  Being Christian, my first thought was to try some of my Windows Bible software.  Although, as I’ve mentioned in Gadget Goodies 2, the two linux Bible programs that use resources  from Cross Wire are really good, there’s nothing like having your favorite tools handy.

I’ve already written about Olivetree’s Bible Study software, with tons of resources and a wide variety of platforms.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see if it would run under linux.  Using Wine to run the installation program, I kept getting a Wine version of Internet Explorer coming up with a nonexistent web address.  So that was no go.  I also tried a DVD I’d purchased last summer at a conference in Illinois – WordSearch 9.  That did install, but some of the main features either didn’t work at all or worked strangely.  We’ll get to WordSearch soon – it is a worthy component of your Windows study tools.

One of my favorites, particularly for the variety of included free tools, has always been Rick Meyers’ e-Sword.  When I first discovered it, there were versions for Windows and Windows Mobile.  The latter eventually disappeared with the advent of multiple resolutions that needed to be programmed for.  Rick focused on the Windows version.  And the layout has stayed very much the same through multiple versions.  I mention that because it never looked fancy, but the tools and resources you wanted handy were always positioned to make study easy.  As a result, it was always one of my “go to” programs for study and writing.  Imagine my joy when I installed it under Wine and it simply worked, just like it always did.  And, if anything, the newest version was faster and more responsive.  There are some paid resources, some of which I’ve only seen in some more expensive Bible software.  While e-Sword is freely available at no cost, it’s donation ware.  If you find it useful, consider donating to the ongoing development.  You can find the executable here: http://bit.ly/YnQ5Ry.  Modules are downloadable within the program.

There's a Bible app for Android that has amazing resemblance to e-Sword.  And we'll talk about my favorite Windows file manager.  Those and more, next time.

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