Review of featured applications

Robert Ancell robert.ancell at
Mon Mar 1 07:04:13 GMT 2010

I have installed all the featured applications 
( and reviewed 
them for user experience.

The criteria from the specification are:

    * Is available in main or universe
    * Is a GUI app
    * Does not replace a default application
    * Does not replace another featured application
    * Is well designed for the task and robust

In addition, I looked for the following points:

    * The application has an icon and an appropriate name
    * The installation can be performed from the Application Center and
      no additional configuration is required
    * After clicking on the application icon it must be simple to start
      using the application.  I made an exception for applications that
      have good documentation/access to tutorials (e.g. GIMP, Blender)
    * Bonus points for small download

These applications seemed really good candidates:

    * cheese (photobooth)
    * homebank (banking)
    * stellarium (planetarium)
    * gnome-do (fast keyboard based access)
    * deja-dup (backup)
    * eclipse (IDE)
    * gimp (bitmap graphics)
    * inkscape (vector graphics)
    * blender (3d graphics)
    * audacity (audio editor)
    * gufw (firewall tool)
    * frozen-bubble (arcade)
    * fretsonfire (Guitar hero clone)
    * pingus (Lemmings clone)
    * moovida (media center)
    * liferea (feed reader, lack of threading is awful though)
    * arista (media transcoder)
    * gtg (task management)
    * freeciv (turn based strategy)
    * supertuxcart (racing, but 100M download)
    * chromium-bsu (2d arcade space shooter)

I wanted to add one IDE to the list but it was very hard to choose one.  
It seemed the best candidates were monodevelop, geany, eclipse and 
anjuta (omitting Eclipse because it is so big and as a "well known IDE" 
people shouldn't have trouble finding it anyway).  I don't use an IDE so 
I don't feel qualified to make a recommendation.  The important factors 
seemed to be:

    * Ability to work with popular languages
    * Fast and reliable
    * Access to debugging tools

I also wanted to pick one FPS but they all seemed difficult to use.  The 
problems seemed to be similar:

    * Huge downloads
    * Opening and choosing first menu (e.g. "single player") often
      didn't work, there were no bots
    * Very slow load times

The following applications are good applications, but I either thought 
their audience was too small to replace the above applications or they 
had bugs/configuration that made them difficult to use "out of the 
box".  These are loosely ordered best to worst - anyone who is familiar 
please comment on how good you think these are.

    * gramps (genealogy, niche?)
    * teeworlds (2d multiplayer shooter, bit laggy)
    * glob2 (isometric strategy game, doesn't seem to install data
    * openarena (FPS, bots don't work)
    * imagination (DVD creator, niche?)
    * virtualbox-ose (virtual machine, niche)
    * recordmydesktop (desktop recorder, niche)
    * wesnoth (complete, but niche?)
    * gftp (FTP client, niche?)
    * filezilla (FTP client, niche?)
    * jokosher (multi-track studio, crashes on startup)
    * scribus (DTP, QT)
    * hugin (photo-stitcher, niche?)
    * glchess (chess, pimping my own app, pychess instead?)
    * parcellite (clipboard manager, niche?)
    * rednotebook (desktop notebook, dupe of tomboy?)
    * dia (diagramming, no compelling advantage over OO)
    * gaikosaurus (thesarus, no icon)
    * wammu (phone manager, niche?)
    * armagetronad (tron game, gameplay limited, quickly became boring)
    * celestia-gnome (universe browser, more scope than stellarium but
      harder to use and more niche?)
    * flightgear (flight simulator, *huge* download, play very
      open-ended.  Felt like it needed "missions" to play)
    * extremetuxracer (butchered Tux racer, no clear levels)
    * yofrankie (3d platform, no clear objectives - boring!)
    * scorched3d (3d tank game, too complex)
    * uqm (arcade game, lots of gameplay but old)
    * beneath-a-steel-sky (adventure game, too old?)
    * flight-of-the-amazon-queen (adventure game, too old?)
    * eclipse (IDE, overkill, will be searched for anyway?)
    * wxmaxima (too complex, niche?)
    * saurbraten (FPS, rendering errors)
    * warsow (FPS, slow, first single player didn't work, didn't know my

Applications I thought failed the "out of the box" test:

    * mythtv (media center, too big, complex and hard to install -
      needed system-wide MySQL installation and service)
    * pioneers (turn based strategy, too hard to set up)
    * simutrans (transport simulator, too old)
    * spring-mod-kernelpanic (RTS, too hard to set up)
    * gnucash (accounting, too complex)
    * amule (file sharing, file sharing too dodgy)
    * nemiver (debugger, nice, but just stick with an IDE)
    * easytag (MP3 tagger, too niche)
    * bzr-explorer (BZR gui, niche, just stick to an IDE)
    * pychess (chess, fails to start)
    * miro (media player, don't see the value over totem+websites)
    * torcs (racing, too slow)
    * compizconfig-settings-manager (Compix settings, too tweaky, target
      audience will find it anyway)
    * wine (Windows emulation, haven't had good results with it)
    * ardour (audio editing, too complex, issues with audio setup)

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