Mukt Software Sources

Someone asked me about where to buy Mukt software. These days most people get their software from internet. Android phone users will probably have used playstore, similarly there is Microsoft Software download center. Apart from these “official” stores, there are countless other stores from where you get your software. For Mukt software, biggest repository is   There are a huge list of software for almost every category. Let me share a few that are available for both Windows & Linux Computers and  I have found them useful. To see source of the software, click on the link.

Graphics & Multimedia: These are tools to edit and play multimedia files

  • GIMP is a Adobe Photoshop replacement. It allows you to do some heavy-weight editing of pictures.
  • Inkscape is for creating vector graphics, useful for logos, diagrams etc.
  • Blender is used for 3D model creation.
  • Scribus is for Desk-top publishing. I find it useful for making brochures, posters, invitation cards etc.
  • Audacity is to record and edit audio files
  • Musescore is to write music notation and play them on midi device
  • Istanbul is to record a desktop session. Unfortunately this work on only Linux. For windows users there is CamStudio.
  • LightWorks is for movie editing.

Office Application: Typically these are Word processor, Spread-sheet type softwares

  • Open Office :  This is like Microsoft Office suit.  Supported by Apache
  • Libre Office: Very much the same like Open Office. Essentially these two have branched off from same software. Currently it is hard to tell the difference.
  • GnuCash is for accounting. It is good for mainstream account keeping.
  • Money Manager Ex is another good application. It is simple but good for tracking personal finances
  • RedNoteBook is for keeping a diary
  • Mozilla Thunderbird is good for mail, calendar and task tracking

Creative Writing & Publishing

  • Bibisco is an excellent tool for planning your novel
  • Tex/Latex is a big group by itself for layout, formatting etc. There are some good Latex editors that make the task of writing on latex even easier. Ones I find useful are TeXstudio, TexWorks, LyX
  • Mendeley is an excellent tool for reference management. It has both mobile and desktop version, that helps me to keep my references handy and synchronized

Education (K-12)

There is a full OS specifically targeted for school kids in Ubuntu. It is called Edubuntu. Those who can give a separate computer to kids may explore the suit. Here I list some of the software that are also available in Windows.

  • GCompris is for small kids of 2-10 yrs, targeted for basic learning in the fun way. It has number of games that teach kids while playing
  • Celestica is a planetarium on desktop
  • GBrainy is for IQ test type of puzzles
  • Kalzium is for periodic table. It also offers molecule visualization and echemical equation solver
  • Klavaro is a touch typing tutor
  • Turtle is to teach computer programming


  • FreeCAD is to make 3D solid modelling for engineering drawing.
  • LibreCAD is good for 2D drawing
  • SweetHome 3D is for making lay out for buildings. It has a good library of common household objects. By placing the furniture one can get a realistic feel of the room.
  • Freemat is for mathematical analysis. It is a drop-in replacement of Matlab software
  • GnuPlot is for plotting graphs
  • R is a language with huge collection of software libary. It is aimed at complex mathematical analysis


Mukt Software is all that you ever need

Since 2015 I shifted completely to Mukt software. Mukt software is also known as Free-Libre Open Source software, shortened as FLOSS. This is a type of licensing policy that allows owner of the software to share and modify the software they use. If you like a FLOSS software you can give a copy to your friend, it will not be a criminal act of piracy. You can view Mukt software movement as a gift economy. Where you may use a software developed by others. You are honor-bound to give back something that you are good at. It can be helping to spread the movement, by bug fix, developing new features or sponsoring the developers.

In English, free is often used as something which has no price. Richard Stallman, the pioneer of Free Software movement, often uses the phrase “free as freedom” to explain what he means by free software.  When he was in Kolkata, I proposed the word Mukt, which sort of caught his fancy. He recommended to use Mukt software where people understand what the word means. That gives us the name as Mukt Software.

If you visit any computer store you will be given a big list of software that you can buy.  I use Ubuntu, I can actually download virtually most of my software that I need. I do need a big many of them. In the world of Mukt advertisement do not work well. So it has been a kind of exploring to find the software that work well. I thought the list maybe useful for some of you. I use Ubuntu, but most of these software are available for other operating systems like Windows and OS/X as well.

In term of use perhaps my most used software in Mail. I use Mozilla Thunderbird. I has a mail, calendar, task list, news feed reader all clubbed into one. This mail reader lets me keep all my mails in my computer, nicely categorized. I use the mail filter setting extensively to remove junk mails.

Perhaps next in the importance list will be office pack categories of software. I use open office. It comes pre-installed in Ubuntu.  I has Word processor, spread sheet, presentation making, diagram software. all in one pack, nicely integrated.  I use another nifty software “Dia”. This is useful for making flow charts. Biggest advantage with Dia is its ability to export the diagram in SVG format.

I write books and article. Tex / latex editor is another useful tool that I use. There are several options. Often, for big books the matter is best handled in multiple files. There,  I just use a text editor and compile them using a small program. For smaller article that fits in one file, I use TexStudio. This helps me to concentrate on my writing instead of spending my time on fussy formatting. Typing mathematical formulas, giving citation, indexing etc.  on Latex is as easy as typing. Best, it produces pdf on the go.

To keep track of my finances, I use GnuCash.  This is a great tool that can even be used for keeping track of finances by even small business. I like its reports and charts.  For my personal account keeping, I do not need all its features. Frankly, I have not yet explored all the options it has.

I do use some other softwares. Like listening to music, text editors etc. I use the standard ones that comes with Ubuntu. Next important software that I use is a sketching tool, that I use to make engineering drawing. There are actually two of them. LibreCAD and FreeCAD.  I beats me on why people can’t choose some different names. I get pretty confused on what is for what. One is for making 2D and other makes 3D.  I remember it as that easy sounding one is for complex design.


FreeCAD can not only make 3D modelling, it has been used to generate CNC programs, feed the data to mesh generating tools and perform basic strength simulations.

Next in line is a cute journal keeper – RedNoteBook. This I use to keep notes of my days.  Perhaps I would miss the other important tool – KeePassx, that I use to keep all my passwords in safe place.

The list is not exhaustive. There are other less used sundry tools like Gimp – for image editing, inkscape – for SVG diagrams, Mendeley – for book reference keeping, gedit – for textediting, shutter – for screen shots,  bibisco – for keeping track of book writing, Freemat and R for complex mathematical calculations, gnuplot for graph plotting, Fritzing – for electronics circuits, KDiff3 for checking file changes.  There are a few web based tools that I deploy for automation and managing my work. But those are a different category of tools that I will cover some other day.

A Window for Ubuntu

I replaced my Windows 7 O/S with Ubuntu. This has given me many new things that were missing so far in my life. Biggest change being the way I use my laptop. Earlier with 10min bootup time of Windows 7, I normally kept the laptop in suspend mode most of the time. Now Ubuntu takes about 1min 48sec to boot. There is no excuse to keep the laptop running with Ubuntu. Shutdown time is around 40 sec, Now, I can afford to do some quick personal work.

Next change is the way I install software. Most programs that I use were either installed by default or installed from Ubuntu repository. Installing from Ubuntu repository is as easy as typing the name and hit install key. Earlier I used to keep all program installer in a folder, nicely categorized and archived. That headache is mostly gone, I still need to do it for some programs, but the size is less than 1 GB.

There is one problem, that happened after this change. That’s the baggage of my old files. I have some files that need windows program to open. On Ubuntu, there are two ways to run windows program. One is a Windows emulator – WINE.  Other is to run windows in a virtual machine.

I installed WINE. This is a simple step, open installer, and search for WINE. It gives me three options – Wine, wine loader and wine tools. Install all three. It takes about 10 min and that’s it. You are good to run many windows program. I purchased a uC it that require a special program loader (in windows) picpgm. Opened console, Cntrl-Alt-T,  and typed “wine picpgm” and there it goes. Windows program, running nicely on Ubuntu. 

Next was to do the same with my other programmer pickit2. I try again the same magic command – wine pickit2. Uh Uh! Same magic do not work. Now it complains about missing dot net.  Well, dot net is a big package that is proprietary MS. I don’t expect wine to emulate it.  I knew, I have to install windows on a virtual machine.

Like the choice of coffe in a Cub Food store, Ubuntu has number of Virtual Machine software. The choice is endless and can be quite confusing to newcomer. After few month of experimentation, I knew how to choose coffee – go for one you like. For me it is only one flavor – Medium roasted Columbia. I follow the same principle in Linux. Choose one software that works for me. For Virtual machine, I use one software that is easy to use – it is virtual box. 

Virtual box is readily available in ubuntu repository. Installing it is as easy as type “virtualbox” and click the install button. Once Virtual box is installed I popped in the WIndows recovery disk from my laptop. I thought it had a copy of Windows 7, that I own. Disk whirred and copied some files and then asked for last copy of the recovery disk fo partition my hard disk. Basically it was trying to get my machine to factory condition rather than just install windows. This is not what I intended. Cancelled the job. Next I thought, I should download a fresh copy of Windows from Microsoft. I had the product key – entered that in the software download page and Microsoft says: This product is a third party supplied product. Conduct the vendor. 

Well, so much for the product key and ownership and software write. Basically it means you can’t install fctory supplied windows on virtual machine. Good!  Don’t get fooled with factory supplied windows. If you need Windows, buy a hardware without preinstalled windows and then buy O/S seperately. It is worth those few extra doller.

Fortunately I had a copy of XP disk, that was not factory installed. I changed the Virtual machine from Windows 7 to XP and put the installer disk. Here you see Windows XP is getting installed. This installation process is just like installing it in a new PC. With Virtualbox basically you have created new “virtual” computer within your computer. This has its own virtual memory and virtual hard disk.

20 min later windows XP is installed. Spend some time in setting up Windows. Here you see windows running on the smaller screen over virtual machine. This way, one can run multiple O/S at the same time on the same hardware.


Now it is time to do some serious stuff with Windows. I have my favorite game – Master of Olympus -Zeus. I put the game installer CD, everything goes nicely and now I have Zeus running on my Linux machine. That’s called peaceful co-existence!

So far My Window was isolated. I need to connect WIndows to internet. In this world, hardly anything works without internet connection. Windows authentication is one need. Then there are some programs and update that are needed from internet. After a few false try, I found a good instruction that worked for me to connect windows to net. Here is the link. Credit goes to Irfan for a cool and correct instruction. Now I can authenticate and pacify the creaking  window for genuineness. Now you can see me exploring internet, doing some drawing and listing files in a transparent Linux console.



Done with Windows

Since last week I was getting a SMART error from my laptop. This means some sector of my drive has become bad and drive is going to fail in near future. Nice little warning means a big work. Recovery disks I made for this laptop was about four year old, I don’t rely on them. So burnt a new set of recovery disks, backed up my data and set out to replace my Hard drive.


This is a HP Pavilion dm4 model, with i5 Dual core CPU. It is old, but I never faced much of a performance issue. The drive I had was 600GB. This time I purchased a 1TB drive. Idea was to put some version of Linux in dual boot mode. I use lot of Mukt (Free) software, most of these are port of Linux, so using them with Linux makes better sense. After some contemplation, I settled for Ubuntu. I had a disk of Ubuntu installer, but that was around two years old. I decided to download the latest version for Desktop, Ubuntu 14.10. Ubuntu comes in four major flavors:

  1. Desktop : that comes with GUI and window manager
  2. Server: that will setup a Linux Webserver but does not have GUI
  3. Kylin: With Chinese support
  4. Cloud: for building openstack cloud

Ubuntu disk images are available for free. Desktop version is around 1.5GB. It is better to use bittorrent to download such big files. There is no point in straining the central server and collecting the data from far away location. To download Ubuntu, I installed a bittorrent client and selected alternate download location. Let the download run for the night. In morning, I had the disk image waiting for me to be burnt into a fresh DVD.

Replacing the disk was 10 min job. Thanks to HP, all you need to do is to take out 2 screw and HDD is accessible. I knew, recovery will take time. I had to feed 6 disks one after another when computer will copy all the files. Manual at HP site says it will take 2 – 3 hours. I started the work at 11:00 AM on Saturday, expecting it to finish by 2:00PM. Anyway the work actually completed only at 8:00PM. To be fair, couple of times I went out and computer was waiting for disk change, but a increase in this factor of 3 was not expected.

Work done and with a factory fresh setting, I went to install install Ubuntu. First thing for this is to change boot setting to allow computer to boot from DVD. Next is to make some room for the new OS. So I started windows Disk Manager. Oh, it shows me 4 partition. I knew there will be a partition for recovery files. It was there, then there is a tiny 200 MB boot partition, well I grant that there it makes things safe, then there is the main partition nice 970GB of it, with around 70 GB occupied by Windows 7. There is another partition called HP tools. Which is not something I bargained for. Four primary partition is basically aimed to ensure that I can not install another OS over it. IBM hardware has this restriction of 4 primary partition. I take this as nothing but pure mischief. As it is I am now having second thought with HP products. HP has a policy of push advertisement. In the name of assistance it keeps bugging me to buy this or that. Now this restriction had my patience with HP to its limits. I scrapped dual boot idea and decided for all Linux machine.

Once the decision is made rest of the work becomes easy. Popped in the Linux DVD in drive and reboot the machine. Within minute the machine booted from DVD and asked for option to install. It was simple, install over entire drive. Next screens were name, password location etc. It asked me if I want to update the software, I selected yes. That’s it, for about two hours softwares were installed and then I got a screen to log in.

Ubuntu comes with most required software pre-installed. Out-of-box you get full libre office suit. C++ compiler is part of core Linux. For programming a feature rich text editor is required. Gedit does the job to certain extent. But there is nothing to beat emacs. Emacs is not packaged with ubuntu. To install open Ubuntu software center, type emacs and click on install button. That’s it. After few seconds emacs is installed. Here you go:

Biggest problem that one has to shift OS are the collection of programs that one builds. I also have a good number of Windows program that I can’t leave without. Office and text editors taken care of, now I want to have a comfort. I do not want to search for replacement for each and every windows program. There are two ways to run Windows program within ubuntu. First and easiest is wine. No, it is not the drink. Wine in ubuntu stands for windows emulator. I use software center again and install wine. For my microprocessor programming, I use a program called picpgm. I don’t know of any ubuntu alternative for it, nor do I care much. I run this one with wine. For this I select picpgm executable in file browser, right click and select run with wine program loader option. Thats it!

Other programs that I use frequently are password saver – keepassx; messenger – pidgin; SIP – ekiga; Voice recorder – Audacity; Photoeditor – gimp all of these are available with ubuntu. Some of these are preinstalled, rest I installed from software center. Ubuntu comes with screen capture tool, but I wanted a tool that will allow me to capture a part of it, like I am using it here. Shutter is the software of my choice. For typing in Bengali, Avro is again readily available. But Libre office language needs to be installed to use it. It takes some work, that took around 30min. That’s it ! After about 4 Hrs, I am done with almost all functionality that I had in Windows. 
There is one additional feature that’s lacking in Windows, that the multiple desktop.
Some 8 Hrs of work later, I am back in business with all tools that I had earlier and some more. Now let us take a peek on my disk:
Just 15GB. I could have carried the OS in a SD card!!!

Let’s Linux

Linux is an operating system developed by people who loves computers. An operating system is a collection of programs that tells your computer on how to store pieces of information to your hard disk. How to connect to internet and so many things, that normally you take for granted. Most of the first time computer users are forced with a operating system developed by Microsoft Corp. called Windows. It charges about $200 USD for the software. of which a substantial portion goes as comission to your dealer. No doubt – then he does not tell you about a similar (actually some what better) software available to you free of cost.

There are deals to make that $200 vanish. The vanishing trick is called pre-loaded OS. Do not fall for it, compare prices of hardware with similar spec and you will discover the OS difference.

Some not so ethical vendor will also try to give you a deal – they will offer you to load a pirated version of Windows free of cost. DO NOT FALL for iit. They do it – so that they can sell you another useless piece of software called antivirus. Not only that, once you use it, you are legally in the same boat as a thief. Would like to have such distinction?

But you have a choice. A choice to dup all that pricy OS and anti-virus and so on. Why bother with a piece of OS that could not address its security hole to Virus even after 20 years. Go for Linux. It is virtually free from virus attack. As a result, your machine has all its power to work on the task rather than checking for virus. It comes with all the goodies like Office, torrent client, compilers etc. and it is available free. Free to install and free to distribute.

You can get a copy of Linux from your friendly neighborhood LUG (aka. Linux User Group) or search around for some freebie site.

Now that you have read this page: go the right way – USE Linux. Use ethical software without fear; with full freedom.

Linux is a free software. It comes with freedom to use, distribute, view and modify the code.