It is now common to own multiple computers with several different operating systems installed. Most of the NetBooks selling today run on top of Linux. Some windows users have switched to Mac for its simplicity and they are looking for apps that they can run on both Windows and Mac. Web developers, designers, and programmers often need to test their work on a range of browsers, OS’s, and platforms. With virtualization tools like VMware, Xen, or Parell, developers can install multiple instances of different versions of the same OS, or a variety of OS’s on a single box. Productivity usually doesn’t come directly from the OS itself, that depends more on the apps we rely on to get the job done. One of the challenges of running multiple OS’s is finding cross-platform applications that run equally well on your main OS choices. In this article we will look at 5 widely-used LMW(Linux, Mac, Windows)-ware applications. There are several advantages to this approach. Data formats retain compatibility across different platforms, the learning curve is simplified, and data migration requires less effort.
Mozilla’s Firefox (ff) should probably head up our list of LMW-ware. Although there are many good browsers to choose from and each boasts unique features, FireFox has become many people’s everyday experience. Firefox provides a relatively stable and secure web browsing experience. Many developers contribute to FF’s popularity so updates are frequent and there are plently of add-ons extending functionality. One example is firebug, an extremely popular debugger/DOM inspector many developers rely on. Firefox is open source and truly cross-platform. Whether on Mac, Windows, Linux or Unix, FF is equally useful. Transferring your Firefox profile data (bookmarks, history, add-ons, setttings, etc.) is simple. You can move your whole profile to a portable USB and have it recognized wherever you choose to use it. For instructions on how to migrite your profile data visit http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/kb/Profiles
If you are dealing with sensative data and worry about its security, TrueCrypt may offer a solution for you. TrueCrypt is a “…free open-source disk encryption software for Windows Vista/XP, Mac OS X, and Linux”. You can use it to protect files, folders, partitions, or hard drives and it allows you to create hidden volumes. According to their website, “There are many situations where you cannot refuse to reveal the password (for example, due to extortion). Using a so-called hidden volume allows you to solve such situations without revealing the password to your volume.” Now you can travel with your sensative data on external hard drives and mount the hidden partitions when you need that data.
FileZilla client/server is an open-source, cross-platform ftp application that runs on Unix, Mac, and Windows. FileZilla client supports transfer (and resume) of files larger than 4 GB. One of its more competitive features is support for FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS), and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). It comes with many other features that can be handy; you can limit transfer speed, set up file name filters or search remote files, for example.
FileZilla server is a free, versatile ftp server that is well established in the enterprise environment. It comes with built in support for SSL/TLS, speed limit, and logging. Security features like Autoban help to keep your ftp server safe and attached. Autoban enables an automatic ban (upon multiple failed login attempts) against the intruder’s IP address . You can also configure FileZilla’s server to repel DoS attacks and disable the FXP transfer features to block invasion by malware.
Mozilla’s Thunderbird is a full featured email client that runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac. Thunderbird offers multi-language support and efficient search tools for accessing archived messages, which saves considerable disk space. One of the biggest advantages of Thunderbird over other email clients is its large community and many useful add-ons and extensions, just like Firefox. Popular add-ons enable VOIP-based communications, ease management of your to do list, keep an eye on weather, and track important dates, and so on. Built-in security features like anti-phishing protection decrease the risk of identity theft, data loss, etc.
VLC player from Video Lan boasts a huge range of codecs required to play many different video and audio formats. VLC is free to use, open source software that runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, Unix, and BeOS. It is also quite portable and compact. Advanced features include multi-media streaming, video conversion tools, and so on. VLC has been ported to various portable devices as well.
Image Credit: Rob Boudon