Ubuntu has programs for just about anything
Koneet Kiertoon installs our computers primarily with UbuntuMATE. There are just an insane amount of applications available for it and we strongly recommend taking a look at the Ubuntu Software Center (System -> Maintenance -> Ubuntu Software Center). There you can find over 50,000 different applications, arranged by category, and just a handful of them cost anything. If there is a need for a program, then such a beast can be found here. As one example, the free application Gramps is for researching one’s family tree – it has support for Finnish (and English) and naturally can both read and save in the standard formats used by geneologists. And costs nothing. Install it with just a couple of clicks.
Easiest-to-use tool somewhere else?
There are times, however, when there is a particular tool for a task, and it is so overwhelmingly easy-to-use versus its alternatives, that one wants exactly that tool and not a wanna-be alternate. It seems that in SketchUp, used for 3D-modelling, we have just such a case. Owner of the Tampere-based 3D printing café (3D Crush Café, http://www.3dcrush.fi/), Sammeli Majava, arranges 3D classes in which he instructs people how to use SketchUp for drawing objects that they wish to print. There are many 3D drawing programs available for Ubuntu, but so far yours truly has not found any as easy-to-use as SketchUp.
Wine to the rescue!
No, not the alcoholic kind. Wine is a tool which can help get programs designed for Windows to run in an Ubuntu environment. If you have a particular Windows program in mind, it’s a good idea to visit https://www.winehq.org/, and check to see how well it’s supported. At the top of the page there’s a search bar – put the name of the program here. Here’s a snippet of the results for SketchUp. A Gold application works really well, Silver slightly worse, Bronze worse still, and Garbage is basically no use to anyone. Yours truly has been using the 2014 version basically without any problems at all – looks like updating to the 2016 version would let me enjoy silver-level functionality.
Play your old PC games!
WineHQ can also give you tips about how to get a program running with Wine — some may require that some extra settings get changed just so. Wine is also a way to get old PC games working again — e.g. ”Escape from Monkey Island” is also at Gold level. (Or actually in Ubuntu 14.04 it’s up there at Platinum level!)
Boggle in Finnish
I’ve long been a Boggle fan. In Boggle 16 letter cubes are scrambled and players compete to form the most words from them in three minutes. We’ve had this game in both Finnish and English, but over the years the Finnish dice were lost. Recently I discovered that some kind soul had put the configuration for the Finnish dice on Wikipedia, and so was born the idea to design my own and print them out at 3D Crush Café. Below is a shot of the first prototype with some original dice, BattleLore troops in the background.