Enterprise Software

Making the switch: Searching for software

Now two weeks into my Mac experience, I have started to feel more comfortable with the system. I’ve ditched the wireless Mighty Mouse—it’s slow, the right-click is buggy, and you can’t click with the left/right buttons simultaneously. The side button requires far too much pressure and on top of that—while very pretty—the ergonomics are wrong and it just does not fit comfortably in ‘my’ hand. The best thing about the Mighty Mouse is the scroll-ball, but it’s not enough to overlook all of the faults. As a replacement, I’ve bought myself a Logitech MX1000 rechargeable mouse, which is very fast, smooth, and the buttons all work. It’s very comfortable and the button functions can be fully customised. One trick to note: if you want to allocate system function keys to a button (for example F9 to display all windows), then first disable the keyboard shortcut, program the mouse button, and then re-enable the keyboard shortcut. If you don’t do this, each time you press F9 to assign the key, it actually shows all windows rather than assigning the key.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been searching for software applications that can replace the functionality of applications that I previously used under Windows (apps like Putty, WinSCP, Firefox, etc). Here are my ‘Top 10’ OS X applications so far:

1. Cyberduck

Cyberduck is a great open source program that deals with FTP and SFTP file transfers. The application is fully internationalised and compatible with many popular external editors such as BBEdit, TextMate, and TextWrangler. Sites can be bookmarked for fast future access and transfers can be resumed. Passwords are stored on a user's keychain and bookmarks synchronised with iDisk.

2. Camino

Based on the same ‘Gecko’ rendering engine as Firefox, Camino is more closely integrated with OS X, being a natively designed application rather than a port. The smart and elegant Cocoa interface hides some wonderful features; Spotlight, Address Book, Bonjour, Finder, Dock, and Keychain integration all make this browser as seamless as Safari—with a few extra features of course. Camino is fully open source.

3. VLC

Whatever your platform, VLC media player is by far one of the best applications for video playback. It is fully featured and supports more formats than any other that I’ve used. VLC also happens to be open source.

4. aMSN

There are a myriad of IM clients available for OS X, whether they be the official Microsoft/Yahoo clients or open source efforts like Adium. None of them offer a full set of features when compared to the Windows clients. I found it particularly frustrating that the Microsoft MSN client doesn’t support Webcam use—neither does Adium. After accepting that I just wouldn’t be able to use my Mac’s inbuilt iSight, I stumbled across aMSN. While aMSN is far from perfect, it fills a void until Microsoft update their official client.

5. Chicken of the VNC

The best VNC client I have managed to find: few and far between.

6. JellyfiSSH

While the native terminal application can be used to save/bookmark SSH sites, JellyfiSSH allows much better organisation and so far has not given me any problems.

7. AbiWord

AbiWord is a lightweight, open source word processor that is fully compatible with both Microsoft Word and Open Office document formats. Here you’ll find an interesting comparison of AbiWord and Microsoft Word.

8. MacTheRipper

Due to legal problems, it’s not clear whether a new, Universal Binary version of MacTheRipper will be released—the current release still runs just fine on Intel Macs, so it doesn’t matter that much anyway. This application is essential if you want to take a backup of your fragile DVD movies.

9. UnRar

UnRarX is ‘the’ application for unpacking Rar archives. If anybody knows of an application more similar to WinRar, please do let me know.

10. Xtorrent

The inbuilt search engine is incredibly useful and saves a lot of messing around; undoubtedly the best torrent client.

If anyone has suggestions for other top pieces of software, leave a comment and let us all know.

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