The 7 Best Closed-Source Apps for Linux - Page 2

By Matt Hartley
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Some of the more notable options that I like include:

  • Recover broken MBRs
  • Eliminate problem boot managers
  • Boot up operating systems that are presenting startup issues
  • OS cloning with a few clicks of the mouse
Source code licensing aside, this is, by far, one of the best ways to dual-boot a PC that I have used.

Disclosure: The downside is that you do need to use the initial installer from Windows. But once installed, OS management is then OS independent.


Definitely an application that leaves a lot of people wondering why one would not simply use one of the SANE front ends such as Kooka instead? The answer is more or less based on the individual's needs. Most notably, it has been argued that VueScan provides a cleaner scan than you might get with the out-of-the-box FOSS scanning alternatives.

To be honest, I have found the stronger argument to be for those who are simply looking for a simpler-to-use application. The latest release of VueScan is vastly easier to navigate than the often-installed XSane, found with many Linux distributions.

So what makes this different? For most people, the GUI is so simple, than even the "Guide me" option would be seen as being overkill. The application is as simple or advanced as the end user needs. If a scanner is not working with one of the SANE front-end apps, often times you will have better success using VueScan, despite me not being totally positive as to how VueScan handles its own scanner support. Due to the closed source nature of VueScan, determining exactly how it works remains a bit of a mystery.


Not all web browsers are created equal. And without any question, Opera would find itself in the category of a "top browser" based on user enjoyment.

Opera is designed to provide speed and Firefox-like functionality with available add-ons. Opera's biggest claim to fame would have to be its ability to integrate so many options out of the box. Another bonus about having Opera as an alternative to the provided open source browsers is when an update makes Firefox near useless (remember the Firefox 3 beta with Ubuntu), you can fall back on a very stable alternative that works with many distributions, in addition to both 32bit and 64bit architectures.

RSS, simple to use download manager, and widgets galore, it's easy to see why so many people are jumping on board with the Opera browser despite criticism about its closed source nature.

Adobe Reader

This might shock most people, but for many desktop Linux users, the default PDF viewer that comes with most Linux distributions today is simply not cutting it. Yes, it is nice to be able to easily view PDF files without being forced to download the often-bloated alternatives out there, but for some, the bloat is also known as "features."

Enter Adobe Reader for Linux. Closed source, slower that evince and other alternatives, but it does present vastly more effective keyword searching and for those coming off of the Windows platform, a familiar UI that will not leave its users scratching their heads.

Lotus Notes

Despite the fact that installing Lotus applications in Linux is ridiculous in contrast to the open source alternative known as Evolution, visually, Lotus Notes presents a more "modern" feel to many Linux users. It provides a smoother transition for old Outlook users interested in taking the leap into the Linux waters.

Unfortunately, installing this PIM (Personal Information Manager) with distributions such as Ubuntu, could not be more difficult for less savvy Linux users. It can be done, so long as the user is ready to spend some time doing their homework. This translates into extra install headaches that IBM should have foreseen in the first place, in my opinion.

On better-supported, enterprise-grade Linux distributions, the reports are clear that Notes can provide a fairly decent closed source alternative to Outlook. It is just unfortunate that IBM is the vendor, because the company clearly does not grasp software installation on anything other than closed source platforms. This is sad, as their software is actually pretty well done otherwise.

Adapted from Intranetjournal.com.

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This article was originally published on September 10, 2008
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