Digital Geography

13. May 2016

Software I use in both worlds: Windows & Ubuntu

I am somehow a messy guy. After 3 years now my OS was a bit “stuffed” and I decided to go with the flow, erased the whole HDD and installed the new Ubuntu 16.04. LTS Xenial Xerus. Aside from being a Linux user I also work a lot on Windows PCs. SO what tools do I use on my systems that are needed for my everyday GIS / geo-developer tasks? Let me show you my list:
My list is separated in two categories: software that is basic and stuff that is somehow geo-related. So here are the tools I am using most frequently on every machine I own (approx. 4 😉 ):

software I use most of the time

Basic Software

  • editor: I go with Atom as my companion Daniel advised me. Sometimes I also use sublime. I like the code highlighting and the interaction with git as well as the code file overview of both editors. You might get a great insight on what atom looks and feels like watching the video (sublime is comparable:
  • browser: I need to use multiple browsers (testing of web-design and web page functionality). So normally I end up with Firefox (installed by default) and Chrome. On Windows I tend to install Safari as well (IE11 is still installed as “default”, right?). But according to these metrics, you will do fine with Chrome and FF…
  • screen records: When it comes to documentation and communication it is always useful to have a custom software for taking screenshots (of course you can use the ALT_PRINT or the build-in too, but hey!). On Windows as well as on Linux I am using lightscreen as it gives me more options on what to do with my shots and where to store them. Furthermore the automatic upload to imgur
  • video screencasts: ATM I don’t use a cross-platform solution on taking video screencasts. But this is also an important way for me to communicate my processes or to document findings when it comes to software testing. On Windows I am quite happy with the software SRecorder also it crashes sometimes. On Linux I am using KAZAM.
  • image manipulation: GIMP!
  • vector graphics: Sometimes GIMP is not enough for your image magic. Especially when it comes to vector graphics (like creating icons for web maps or a geo-enabled content management system I use Inkscape also on Windows as well as on Linux.
  • videos: You can learn new technologies and concepts without facing great barriers by using online learning. As I tend to watch the videos offline when I am travelling I use VLC to watch the videos. This is also available for most OS and might show every video file type you can imagine.

The Special SOftware

As the most of the above tools can be of use in a private way as well we will now look at the more specialised tools.
  • ssh: Starting/stopping servers, administration of services and data rarely requires more than a command line and a ssh connection. SSH is already build in Ubuntu but looking at Windows you will not find an on-board solution (well, PowerShell team is working on some sort of solution) For Windows I am happy with PuTTY.
  • ftp: Welcome FileZilla. Works on WIN/Ubuntu and is the best tool in my eyes for sending files to servers.
  • development tools 1: When developing software (ABAP, JS, HTML, Python) I use git to easily track my changes and have the same version of software on all my machines. As the service provider I am a big fan of github. But I am using ungit as the GUI on both OS. Attention: It requires nodeJS to be installed.
  • development tools 2: FireBug! This extension for Firefox will make bug fixing and rapid prototyping easy!
  • development tools 3: As I am working a lot now with SAP Hana Cloud Platform and teach myself some nasty JAVA I am using the Eclipse IDE on Win and Linux.
  • infrastructure development: Some projects require not only one component but a whole infrastructure (database, frontend, backend, Python scripts, and more…). For this reason Daniel taught me to use Vagrant. And woohaa, this is great as it enables you to ship a whole server to your developers and you don’t have any struggles with different software versions or incorrect running services on a developer machine!
  • GIS: What shall I say: QGIS of course! QGIS is a state of the art 64bit GIS with a great community and it runs on WIN/Linux/Mac/Android…
  • statistics: R, coming in the flavour of RStudio is my choice for statistical analysis, geostatistics and data handling. I am not using it that often (recently for a BCBS 239 project :-/ )… RStudio runs also on both operating systems.
What tools do you use for your everyday work?! Leave us a comment! Maybe we should build an alternative to the OSGEO-Live Linux which comes pre-installed with lots of useful packages!
  • Mohammed Habboub

    Interesting.. Good article, thanks Riccardo!
    Do you use OSGEO-Live Linux or anther Linux distribution?

    • I installed Ubuntu and use only packages I need. Yet the OSGEO-Live is a great way to get to know Linux and Open Source GIS tools…