OBS Studio

Recently I found this application, OBS Studio, for screencasting. It is the best screencasting software I found, and it is cross-platform.

In Linux, I tried several applications before, recordMyDesktop, SimpleScreenRecorder, and even ffmpeg command-line, and none of them is satisfying. The main issue is either audio recording not synchronised or audio difficult to configure.

OBS Studio is user friendly and easy to configure and the audio is synchronised with the video. Great!


Audacious, DeadBeef, Clementine

I don’t use RhythmBox or Banshee, as they are too bloated for me. I was a Winamp user.

I tried Audacious, DeadBeef, and Clementine. The following is a brief comparison,

  Audacious DeadBeef Clementine
Shortcut key Affect application only Affect application only Global hotkey
APE tag support Didn’t test Can load APE tag Cannot load APE tag
AAC support Correct file extension needed (I rename to .MP4) Can play Can play
Drag-and-drop songs among playlist Copy Move Copy
Copy-paste songs among playlist (Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V) Can Cannot Cannot

Clementine global hotkey gives me trouble to navigate the audio file within the application.

DeadBeef works well, the only drawback is managing the playlist.

And, my favourite is Audacious. It works well in various aspects.

P/S: Just found that Audacious cannot customize the shortcut keys, but only the global hotkeys with the plugin enabled. The default shortcut keys are Winamp compatible.

Favourite less popular Linux applications

This is just a sharing about my favourite software applications which are less popular comparing to others.

Linux distribution: Arch Linux vs Ubuntu, Linux Mint.
Reason: Highly customisable.

Desktop environment: Xfce4 vs GNOME, KDE, Cinnamon, Mate.
Reason: Traditional desktop look, lightweight yet feature-rich.

Programmer text editor: jEdit, Emacs vs Sublime Text, Atom
Reason: jEdit – Cross-platform, unlimited window split
Reason: Emacs – Cool!

Text editor: medit
Reason: Tab view, start by opening last opened files.

Video player: SMPlayer vs VLC
Reason: Subtitles look better. Can open various file formats including RMVB.

Video editor: Shotcut vs Pitivi, Handbrake (video transcoder)
Reason: Easier to split or resize the video.

Audio player: Audacious vs Banshee, Rhythmbox
Reason: I don’t like library concept. I just want to play the musics I like by drag-and-drop from my file manager.

Image browser/organizer: XnViewMP vs F-Spot, Shotwell
Reason: I don’t like library concept as above. I just want to view my images from any folder that I stored by images/photos.

Image viewer: Viewnior
Reason: Can zoom in/out by mouse scroll, can move the photo view by mouse drag.

Chinese input method: Fcitx with RIME with self-written Wubi + Pinyin input method vs Fcitx Pinyin, IBus Pinyin, Sogou Pinyin
Reason: Fcitx works better when IBus was upgrading, so I stick to Fcitx. And RIME is just so customisable that I write my own input method.

Synchronize and backup: FreeFileSync
Reason: Best ever synchronize and backup software. I can’t find any alternative solution.

Application launcher: GNOME Do
Reason: I was using Executor in Windows. And just use any replacement on Linux, and now I get this.

File browser: Nemo vs Nautilus (GNOME file manager), Dolphin, Thunar (Xfce4 default file browser)
Reason: Previously using Nautilus, but when it introduced type as search, then I prefer the older feature, that is why I stick to Nemo.

Calculator: SpeedCrunch
Reason: I prefer expression calculator. And it is cross-platform.

Firefox, IceCat, Pale Moon

As my favourite web browser, Firefox, with the powerful extensions, (in my opinion) no other web browser is better than it. There are a lot of web browsers based on Chromium or using WebKit engine. Namely Google Chrome (based on Chromium), Opera (WebKit engine), Safari (WebKit engine), Konqueror (KDE web browser), Epiphany (currently called Web, GNOME web browser), and other less popular web browsers such as Midori, QupZilla, etc.

However, Firefox uses another layout engine, that is Gecko. That is why the rendering of the webpages may have some differences comparing to the WebKit engine. For the web developers, they can always see the differences.

Firefox is able to open a new instance with a different profile. That means a user can run the Firefox with a new and clean profile without any addon together with his or her default profile. This can be done by using the command-line such as

firefox -no-remote -P profileName

The profile can be created by

firefox -no-remote -ProfileManager

With this, the user can install Firefox Beta, Aurora, and Nightly, then run the different instances through the command-line. This is fantastic.

Interestingly, because of the branding issue of Mozilla, Firefox is re-branded as BurningDog in gNewSense and Iceweasel in Debian. And There is another re-brand from GNU project, that is GNU IceCat (formerly GNU IceWeasel, which is different from Debian’s Iceweasel). Moreover, there are specially customised web browser for anonymous surfing which use Firefox as well. For instance, Tor Browser Bundle and JonDoBrowser.

In Arch Linux, if you do not want to use command-line to run the different Firefox and its variants with different instances, then you can install GNU IceCat and Pale Moon from AUR.

Why do I need to many instances? One of the reasons I am doing so is because of the proxy. Because sometimes I want to use Tor for anonymous browsing temporary. This cannot be solved by simply using FoxyProxy. Though FoxyProxy can use different proxies depending on the URL pattern, yet I just want to surf several pages anonymously temporary in another window. At the same time, the other windows remain using default proxies or no proxy. Because of this, only new instance of Firefox can be solved. Because of this, for the ease of the surfing, I installed other variants of Firefox. Good!

Plotting graph

I tried several Linux software for plotting the graph. These are some of my summaries of review.

Genius Mathematics Tool

The graph is not in Cartesian form. But very convenient and easy to define the equations.


Very difficult to prepare the graph and difficult to manipulate the graph. Need a lot of commands.


Similar to Gnuplot, can use the table form as the data. Can work with ods and excel files. Can use latex to add the label. Can define the function of graph easily. Much more better than Gnuplot. But the graph is not the Cartesian form.


Too user unfriendly.


Best for education. It uses Cartesian coordinate system. But does not preserve the aspect ratio of the Cartesian grid.


Also good for education. But cannot get the label (scale) on the axes.

As a conclusion, I normally use Genius for general mathematical calculation purpose, such as calculating the fractions, matrices, and vectors. I use Gnuplot only for generating the graph from bash scripts by reading the text files if necessary. And lastly, KmPlot is the best I like especially for education. Because it shows the axes clearly. KDEdu has a lot of nice software.

Some Linux audio players

Recently, I tried Audacious. It is too nice. Banshee and Rhythmbox, both of them are storing the audio files as in the library, but Audacious just uses simple playlists. Rhythmbox allows the users to create playlist too, yet it is not as simple as Audacious, which allows us to sort the playlist easily, and using shortcut key to queue the songs we want to listen.

Recently I also found that OSD Lyrics is just wonderful, which allows me to replace what I need in TTPlayer (千千静听). Because TTPlayer is built for Windows only, and works badly in Wine. OSD Lyrics is able to download the lyrics and display the lyrics. It is actually a standalone tool which can work with other audio players, such as Amarok, Banshee, Rhythmbox, and Audacious.

Because of the Rhythmbox, which is heavy weight and difficult to manage the playlist, that is why I tried those audio players which can be supported by OSD Lyrics, and also available in the main repository of the Linux distribution that I am using (Arch Linux).

The followings are my brief description with the problems:

  • Banshee – Cannot drag and drop from the file manager (previously, I am not sure about the current version).
  • Rhythmbox – Cannot perform sorting.
  • Audacious – The volume is softer than Rhythmbox. But the playlist is very easy to manage.
  • Amarok – The interface is too complex. Give up immediately.
  • Clementine – Cannot disable Internet providers, which I don’t like.
  • Pragha – Is not supported by osdlyrics.
  • Quod Libet – Does not support drag and drop also.
  • Qmmp – Good. Support drag and drop. Easy interface. Exactly same as Winamp. Should be able to be supported by OSD Lyrics, but I cannot make it work, may be due to version’s problem, (qmmp 0.6.6 and osdlyrics 0.4.3)
  • LXMusic – Based on XMMS2 (command-line). XMMS2 supported by osdlyrics, but LXMusic itself does not.

Among these, I like Audacious best. Qmmp also good, but cannot be supported by OSD Lyrics. Then followed by Rhythmbox.

But most these audio players, including Audacious, Rhythmbox, and Banshee, I experienced the problem of editing ID3 tag. None of them works well. That is why I always use Kid3 to edit the ID3 tag.

VirtualDub and other video editing software (Linux)

I was using VirtualDub. It is the best (for me). I can simply mark the part of the video that I want to remove, or copy, or move, or duplicate. Moreover, with the plugins, I can also add the subtitles, overlay, and other effects on the video. Though there are less wonderful 3D effects like other software, it is very easy and good to use. There are some limitations, such as it can only load the AVI files. However, codecs of the video is based on what we have installed on the Windows. Thus, we can encode to the smaller size AVI with the codec such as Xvid. There is modified version, VirtualDubMod, yet I still prefer VirtualDub. Another problem is that VirtualDub is only available on Windows. Though, we can use Wine to run VirtualDub smoothly. However, we needs to install the codecs that we need to Wine, so that VirtualDub is able to use the codecs. Because I am using Linux, so I am looking an alternative that can work like VirtualDub. I tried some software. The followings are my little comments on the tested software.

Blender (Video Sequence Editor)

It can open almost any video file. Good interface. The concept of marking the start frame and end frame is different from VirtualDub. It is actually cut (split) the video. So that, we can select the segment to move or duplicate the segment.


It has a problem to view the video during editing, because of frame problem, as a result cannot mark the frame easily.


It has the problem to create marks like VirtualDub. But the concept is similar to Blender, that is “cut”. However, we cannot “duplicate” the segment. We need to add another (temporary) track with the same video and split it and move to the target track. Then the temporary track can be removed.


It cannot copy the selection and paste. Copy and paste work on the whole video clip. It is difficult to cut the track like Blender, because it is using the razor tool (cutter?). That means we need to use the mouse to “cut” it precisely.


The marker does not work as start and end. It is using the razor tool like Kdenlive. It works similar to Kdenlive.


Too bad. It has limited video size.


It can copy and cut easily. But it cannot load most of the files produced by FFmpeg (may be the problem of the way I encode with FFmpeg). As a result, almost nothing works. As a conclusion, I personally prefer Blender and Pitivi. Though a lot of people mentioned Avidemux, it does not work like what I expected.

Shotcut (added 2015-06-09)

Recently I found this video editor. I used it for resizing the video file. It works fine. Should take a try.

libgooglepinyin: Pinyin input method for Linux

In my opinion IBus (Intelligent Input Bus) is the most popular input framework for Linux. Previously, SCIM is the most common input framework. This is because Ubuntu uses IBus as its default input framework currently.

There are two Chinese pinyin input for IBus, one is ibus-pinyin, another is ibus-sunpinyin. I prefer ibus-pinyin, since it is more common, and support the Traditional Chinese character; sunpinyin does not.

But today, I found another input method, that is libgooglepinyin, it is a fork from Google Pinyin for Android. Whoever uses Google Pinyin before should know that it is faster than a normal pinyin method, it works like Sogou Pinyin. It is available for Arch Linux using AUR. Super good.

After installing using yaourt (or using makepkg manually), it does not support Traditional Chinese characters by default. To enable this, we can install opencc from AUR again. Yeah!

Moonlight: Silverlight alternative for Linux

Recently, I visited the China website for listening some songs using Firefox 7.0, and found that I need a plugin called Moonlight, since I am using Linux.

So, this Moonlight is the Silverlight alternative for Linux. If you visit the website such as 1ting.com, then this is what you need.

However, Moonlight xpi file is not compatible to Firefox 7.0. Thus, some modifications towards the xpi file is needed. If using Arch Linux, it is available in AUR (submitted by me).

The workaround for the modifications,

  1. Extract the xpi
  2. Edit install.rdf, <em:maxVersion>4.0.*</em:maxVersion> to 7.0.*
  3. Remove META-INF folder, this is for verification
  4. Then, some users mentioned to zip it and rename to .xpi extension (I didn’t test)
  5. Open the xpi file from Firefox, will install the plugin

In my case of AUR, there is no step 4 and step 5, but copy the extracted files and folders into “/usr/lib/firefox-7.0/extensions/moonlight@novell.com/”. The “moonlight@novell.com” is the plugin ID, so, I think it is also possible to copy the extracted files to “~.mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.default/extensions/moonlight@novell.com/”, where xxxxxxxx.default is your Firefox profile. But I didn’t try this method.