10 Apps for OSX for Ubuntu People

Posted on January 30, 2011

So I've made the switch to OSX and it hasn't been without its share of grief. But I've found a few utilities that have made the transition much easier for me.

I'm leaving off the obvious ones like GIMP, Inkscape, Miro, Open Office, yada yada, and sticking to ones that are more esoteric and/or useful for homogenizing the way different OSes behave.

  1. KeyRemap4MacBook - This thing is a godsend. You can enable 'emacs' mode across the whole OS and generally switch around common key maps such as the requisite Right Option to Forward Delete.
  2. Quicksilver - I had integrated Gnome Do and the newer Synapse deeply into my workflow, so of course using Quicksilver, the app that started the trend, is obvious. It works great. I wonder why it's fallen by the wayside in terms of use and development? I'm confident it will be in beta until the end of time.
  3. ShiftIt - On Ubuntu I made quite a bit of use of the 'Grid' Compiz plugin that allows you to shift your windows left, right, top, bottom, center, and fullscreen. There are some well-known utilities on OSX to do the same thing, namely Divvy and SizeUp, but ShiftIt is free and open source.
  4. KeepassX - I used Revelation as a password manager on Ubuntu and KeepassX is basically the same thing. I was able to export XML from Revelation and with some minor tweaks import it into KeepassX just fine.
  5. Carbon Emacs - I'm an emacs user and Carbon Emacs is probably the best implementation of it on OSX.
  6. Dockables - Dockables is simply a set of small applications that invoke system changes in OSX such as sleep, lock, and shut down. Once you install these you can invoke these commands via Quicksilver as they're just apps that live in Applications.
  7. Disk Inventory X - Baobab on Gnome was a really useful utility for finding what the hell's eating up all your disk space. Disk Inventory X basically is the same thing for OSX: a visual map of your hard drive usage.
  8. XLD - I'm an audiophile, so it's really important to me to be able to rip CDs and be certain that I'm capturing all the information losslessly. I used GRIP on Ubuntu and EAC on Windows to do this. XLD accomplishes the same secure ripping and encoding on OSX.
  9. FFMpegX, Max, and xACT - These are useful transcoding utilities for moving between audio and video formats. Combine them with Perian for Quicktime for some nice Swiss Army Knife format handling.
  10. Supercal - I go insane if my monitor isn't calibrated correctly but I'm too cheap to shell out for calibration hardware. Supercal does a really excellent job and takes advantage of the took you'll use to do all your graphics work in OSX: your eyes.
  11. Bonus! Fluid - Ubuntu didn't have anything like Fluid, as far as I'm aware. It's basically a site specific browser that turns any webpage into an app. I use it to make a menu bar application of our Trac bug page that responds to a keyboard shortcut from any application. In order to get around self-signed certs you have to add the site as trusted in Safari before you create the application with Fluid.

And I also missed a few other commands from linux such as pkill, so I made bash script versions of those that live in /usr/local/bin:

How do I kill a process by name? pkill:

for X in `ps acx | grep -i $1 | awk {'print $1'}`; do
  kill $X;

What pid is using that port? portpid:

lsof -Pnl +M -i4 | grep $1

The last giant gap in functionality that I'm missing from Ubuntu is their Hamster applet: a really, really streamlined way to track your time. You can basically invoke it with a keystroke, type a task, and it will track your time until you switch it to something else. It also had really awesome analytics on your time usage. Anyone have suggestions for an app that's as efficient at time tracking as Hamster? I don't wanna have to use the mouse, I don't want to have to use a web interface, and it should ideally be free :P


Another brilliant app I've found is WaterRoof, a semi-GUI frontend to IPFW. It basically allows for finer control of the OSX firewall at the port level rather than application level, as the Apple-supplied Firewall interface works. If it were PF instead of IPFW I'd probably skip the GUI altogether, but having the startup script installation automation and a nice set of toggle switches makes for a consistent OSXesque experience :)

Update Update!

I was getting pretty tired of having the dock anchored to the middle of the screen. Usability says that frequently used items should go in corners. Guess what? The OSX dock can be anchored to a corner. Here's how:

To pin the dock to the start, use:

defaults write com.apple.dock pinning -string start

To pin the dock to the end, use:

defaults write com.apple.dock pinning -string end

To return the dock to the middle, use:

defaults write com.apple.dock pinning -string middle

Then restart your dock with the following in a terminal:

killall dock

So if your dock is on the bottom of your screen, start is left, end is right, middle is middle. You get the idea.

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