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Website helps users locate Debian-based apps
Mar. 25, 2006

A new website, devoted to making it easier for users of Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux distributions to find application software, has just launched. Month-old is ready for action, and is busily adding new apps and new features.

Since most Linux applications are free and have no marketing to inform the public of their existence, it can be difficult for users to find the right program when it is needed. The goal of is to make finding the right software an easy task by providing a simple, effective task-based search, site owner and maintainer Chad Martin told Friday.

"Users of Debian-based distros will find this site a quick reference of available programs," the Austin, Texas-based Martin said. "It will be synced regularly with the Debian and Ubuntu repositories."

New apps added regularly

New applications are frequently added. Each category has its own RSS feed, so visitors can easily monitor favorite genres for updates, Martin said.

Current application categories are:
  • Backup & Recovery
  • Business & Finance
  • Communications
  • Databases
  • Development
  • Editors
  • Education
  • Games
  • Graphics
  • Internet & Networking
  • Multimedia
  • Office
  • Scientific & Engineering
  • Security
  • System
  • System Management
  • Utilities
  • Viewers
  • Virtualization
Each category includes a list of subcategories plus a listing of the top five "most viewed" apps on that page. On the category pages, each application has a one-sentence description to go with a direct link to the download. The individual application pages offer a good amount of detail, including a brief description of what the app does, a link to the project home page, a description of the interface needed, associated programs (if needed), and links to available Debian depositories.

"I started with many of the apps that I use regularly, and then found more in trying to find Windows alternatives," Martin wrote in an email. "These days, I scour the Debian repository for new programs I've never tried and monitor the RSS feeds from sites like DesktopLinux to look for new leads. I keep a list of apps I hear about and work my way through it a little each week. More are always being added to that list and to the site."

The home page features a "news" section that describes newly added applications under category subheds. RSS feeds for each category have been recently added, Martin said, so subscribers can scan a list of new apps in seconds.

Debian/Ubuntu focus

"I've focused on Debian and Ubuntu because I understand how the repositories work and wrote some scripts that I use to keep the version information up to date," Martin said. "I'd eventually like to branch out, but it's not at the top of my list right now.

"I've contacted the developers of Klik to see if they can help me add listings of their packages, so hopefully I'll be able to add those links in the future. It would be a great way for users to try out new apps before committing to an install."

Martin, who works for Intel, said that he has many future plans for the site, "but it remains to be seen which will actually work out. One at the top of my list is adding a section focused on a more specific task-based search than categories can cover. It would be targeted at users either switching from Windows or just trying to do something new in Linux."

"The task might be some something as simple as 'manage personal finances.' I'd cover what the common Windows programs are (Microsoft Money and Intuit Quicken) and list some Linux alternatives (Gnucash, KMyMoney, Grisbi, SQL-Ledger). I'll also include status on any of the Windows programs running on Wine. I haven't figured out how best to present it yet, but I think it has promise," he added.

Check out Martin's new website here. also hosts a Linux software directory. Additions are always welcome!

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