Finding the Application for the Job
Back Up the Truck!
Now it's time to load your computer up with software. Chakra includes in the repositories all of the available applications provided by KDE, together with a lot of other Qt based apps, and the most popular gtk based ones. I'll list off the major types of apps in each category, what the standard KDE app for each job is, where you can get it (almost all of them are in the official repos), and what the most popular alternatives are. If it sounds like something you want go ahead and install it, and if not, leave it out! That's really what Chakra's all about; a lean, stripped-down KDE that doesn't come with a ton of stuff you'll never use. Unless otherwise specified, all packages are available in the official repos.
This is arguably the most important category; for many modern users a computer is little more than an internet portal.
- The Qupzilla web browser. Qupzilla is a fast, lightweight web browser implementing Qt technologies. If you want familiar standbys like Firefox or Chromium, they're in the [gtk] repository… and Chromium features a built-in flash plugin.
- The Kget download manager. A download manager gives you more control over your downloads, allowing you to stop, start, and prioritize them. A download manager will also generally restart an interrupted download where it left off instead of having to start from scratch.
- The Ktorrent bit-torrent client. You can use Kget to download bit-torrents, but Ktorrent is by far the better tool for the job; it's the most powerful bit-torrent client I've ever used.
- The Kmail E-mail Client. My favorite e-mail client, and a component of the powerful Kontact personal information management suite. I recommend installing the Kontact package, and together the Kaddressbook address book app and the Korganizer calendar tool. Then launch it by selecting "Kontact" in the "Office" category that you'll now find in your application launcher (why it's in the office section is beyond me, but whatever). If you do it that way, your email, address books, calendar (all of which work together seamlessly), and a few other things are all accessible via a single interface. You can also launch them individually, and Kmail by itself can be found under "Internet". Another popular e-mail client is Mozilla Thunderbird, available in the [gtk] repository.
- The Akregator RSS Client. This great app puts all of your RSS feeds in one place, and you can view them using an embedded browser. It's also an add-on component for the Kontact PIM suite, so if you've already got Kontact onboard you can access it using the main interface.
- By default Chakra ships the telepathy suite for instant messaging. Kopete is also an easy-to-use IM client that'll talk to just about any of the messaging services on the web. Another popular option is Pidgin, which is available in the [gtk] repository.
That's a pretty good list of web apps; you've already got a great IRC client installed. Some of you are probably saying wait a minute; what about an FTP client? The answer is you don't need one. The Dolphin file manager (or, for that matter, Konqueror) has a great FTP client built in. If you just have to have a separate client for whatever reason, FileZilla is in the [gtk] repository.
Here's my own favorite section! There are tons of great multimedia apps available for Linux.
- Music Players: Tomahawk comes by default in Chakra, but there are other great music player apps available, especially Clementine and Amarok, and Cantata, an mpd frontend.
- Video Players. Here Vlc is definitely the most known one, but Chakra ships with bomi as default player. It is a minimal frontend of mpv, an mplayer port. It'll handle almost any kind of media, but video is it's specialty. Smplayer is also another powerful mplayer frontend that can handle pretty much everything.
- Media Center. Kodi is by far the most popular solution nowadays, not only on Linux systems. It can handle pretty much any video or audio you throw at it, it helps you manage your collections in a beautiful manner and has a ton of addons that add extra features to it. For a more minimalistic solution, you can try using plasma media center from the repos.
- CD Player. Sometimes music players have issues playing audio cds. KsCD is a dedicated CD player, and although it's simple it gets the job done.
- Disc Burning Tool. K3b is the go to application. To call this powerful app a disc burner is almost an insult. This is an incredibly full-featured tool for burning, ripping, and otherwise working with optical discs. It's easily the best app of it's kind I've ever seen... don't even bother with anything else. You'll also want to get "dvd+rw-tools", which adds some extra functionality to K3B.
I'm going to stop myself there, because most of the other multimedia stuff I use is fairly specialized. The above is a very good basic list of stuff that most people will find useful. If you have issues playing a specific file, you need to make sure you have the required gstreamer, ffmpeg or other codec packages installed. Enjoy!
Word processors. Spreadsheets. The boring stuff. Oh well, boring or not, it's something most of us use from time to time, right? Here are a few handy items.
- The Calligra Suite. Here's a full-blown office suite developed by KDE. If you run a search for "calligra" in the repositories (pacman -Ss calligra) you'll see a whole list of apps. The ones most people are likely to use are Words (a word processor), Sheets (a spreadsheet app) and Stage (a presentation program). The Kexi database app and the Karbon vector graphics tool might also come in handy for lots of folks. Or if you want, just install all the apps in the suite and see what they'll do. Calligra will do most things you need to do, but one thing it won't do just yet is save to MS Office formats (although it will open them).
- The LibreOffice Suite is the most widely used free and open source office series. It has been around for a long time (previously known as openoffice). It is very powerful and you will again find similar applications as Calligra and Microsoft word, this time named Writer, Calc, Impress etc. It has very good compatibility with MS Office formats and it allows you to save in MS Office formats as well.
- The Okular Document Viewer. This is a PDF file viewer; same sort of thing as Adobe Acrobat Reader. Okular is the standard KDE app for this job, and should provide all the functionality you need. It's available as "kdegraphics-okular".
Here are a few basic graphics tools that will come in handy for lots of users.
- The Gwenview Image Viewer. This one's already installed. An easy-to use yet surprisingly flexible image viewing tool.
- Spectacle. The KDE screen capture application. This app is already installed and should launch by default when you hit the PrtScr button on your keyboard.
- The Gimp Image Editor. If you were following along in the previous lesson you've probably already installed this one. This is a surprisingly powerful photo editor. No, it's not quite as good as Photoshop... but that app costs $500! Gimp is available in the [gtk] repository.
- The Digikam Photo Manager. This app is designed to help you manage your photo library, and features the ability to sync with your digital camera, work with networked folders, and a whole bunch of other neat stuff.
- Kipi-Plugins. A plugins package that adds a bunch of extra functionality to Gwenview, Spectacle, and Digikam. If you work with digital photos at all, you want this one.
- Krita is a powerful application for sketching and drawing.
- The Kcalc Scientific Calculator. Just what the name implies.
- Kwallet. This is a tool for storing passwords.
- NTP. This program allows your computer to interface with a network time server, which means you don't have to set your clock manually anymore.
Widgets, otherwise known as plasmoids, are little mini-apps that sit on your desktop and add functionality. Some are frivolous, some are very useful, and a handful of them are already installed on your Chakra system. You can add them by right clicking on the panel and selecting "Unlock Widgets" and then again right click and select "Add Widgets". You can also add widgets on the panel through the burger icon. Here are a few handy ones:
- Weather plasmoids. You will find a couple of those in the repositories, just search for "weather"
- Notes. I'm forgetful at times, so I leave notes on my desktop.
- Show Desktop. Placed on a panel, this will minimize your windows and display the desktop when clicked.
- System Monitoring plasmoids. There are several of these that can help you monitor your cpu frequencies, the temperatures of CPU and graphics cards, the load on your CPU and RAM, your network traffic etc.
- Redshift. This is an applet for controlling redshift (screen temperature modifying). It allowes basic redshift settings and fast manual temperature control by mouse wheel.
That's just scratching the surface; there are lots of other handy widgets in there and you can get even more through the "Get New Widgets" button on the bottom of the adding new widgets panel. We talked more about widgets and how to add them to the desktop or to panels in the section.
There's almost certainly something you need that I didn't mention above. For instance there's a lot of games available, but I don't know what the good ones are because I don't play computer games. So you'll have to do a little digging on your own. When I first started using Linux I did a lot of internet searching, trying to find apps that would replace the stuff I used in MS Windows. Not only did I find a replacement for just about everything, in many cases the replacements were better than what I was using before! If you need something I haven't covered, go online and see what you can find.
This concludes the Complete Beginner's guide to Chakra Linux. If you're wondering what you should do now, the question's already been partly answered; start learning to use all of the great apps that are available! If you want to learn even more things on your system, you can check out the Tutorials section. If you are interested to join the Chakra team and contribute to make it even more awesome, then please read more on how to Get Involved!