Application and utility programs

On this page, we will discuss Unix and Linux programs that are commonly used in different Unix systems. Most of the programs are available in the UH Unix system, depending on the server you are using.

Text editors

A very versatile text editor that is usually used via keyboard prompts. In most systems, you can start this program with the prompt emacs as well as em.

A basic text editor that is easy to use. Most used pico prompts: CTRL-o = save file, CTRL-x = exit pico.

If you have a graphical user interface to Unix or Linux, you can also use text editors with graphical user interfaces. one example of such text editors is gedit which is delivered with e.g. Linux Ubuntu (see image below).

E-mail programs

Pine is one of the most popular e-mail programs in Unix (see image below). Pine is a text-based server program that is mostly used with remote access. it is started with the prompt pine. When using pine, you do not have to install an e-mail program on your Unix or Linux workstation at all.

PINE is managed by keyboard prompts. Other e-mail programs that are used with remote access are elm and mutt. .forward is a file in Unix, with which you can forward your e-mail.

Evolution is an e-mail and calendar software developed by Novell software company, and it comes with several Linux versions (such as Fedora and Ubuntu). Its usability is quite similar to Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird.

There is a Linux version of the popular e-mail program Thunderbird, which has a graphical user interface. Thunderbird (see image below) works the same way in Linux as in other operating systems. We have described the Thunderbird program in the learning material for the Student’s digital skills.

Web browsers and newsreaders

With Unix and Linux, you can use both text-based and graphical browser programs. In addition, Unix systems often offer many programs for reading newsgroups and contacting people (such as irc).

When you have text-based remote access to Unix, you can start the lynx browser with the prompt lynx. However, you will not be able to view images on the web pages.

A text-based program for reading newsgroups, which is managed from a command line.

There is a Linux version of the popular Firefox browser. This browser is highly recommended for its good data security features, among other things. The Firefox user interface is graphical (see image below).

Firefox comes preinstalled e.g. in Linux’s Ubuntu distribution version.

Office programs

Open Office / LibreOffice
An office program package with graphical user interface, including software for word processing, spreadsheets, vector graphics, slide shows, and creating databases.

With Open Office, you can store text, spreadsheet, and other files in open file formats, in accordance with the principle of open surce codes. Such file formats are

  • .odt = word processing files
  • .ods = spreadsheet files
  • .odp = slide-show files
  • .odg = image-processing and other graphics files

Please note that, in spite of their openness, not all application (such as the commercial Microsoft Office) can handle files saved in these file formats. However, it mostly works the other way around, i.e. you can use Open Office to open files that have been made with commercial office software. The following image shows an example of the Open Office Writer program.

LibreOffice is a sister productivity suite created by the Open Office’s original developer community, and they share many similar features. LibreOffice is pre-installed in several Linux distribution versions. The following is an example of the LibreOffice Writer program in Ubuntu.

Please see the site for more information on Open Office. If you wish, you can download the Open Office package to your computer from the same address.

Desktop publishing programs

LaTeX is a typesetting program with which you can create versatile text documents. LaTeX is useful for writing  documents with e.g. many mathematical formulas.

LaTeX creates files of type dvi, which you can convert to other file formats with the help of various utility programs. The following utility programs can come in useful when you use LaTeX:

  • xdvi (program for viewing dvi files in the X window system)
  • dvips (creating ps files from dvi files)
  • dvipdf  (creating pdf files from dvi files)
  • ps2pdf  (creating pdf files from ps files)

To read more about LaTeX, please see: an

Mathematical and statistical programs

It is often easier to use mathematical and statistical programs with Unix or Linux than with other operating systems. You can use the following programs in the UH Unix system:

  • Symbolic computation: mathematica and maple
  • Numeric computation: matlab
  • Statistical data processing: spss, sas and survo.

Useful utility programs for Unix

Program for drawing vector graphics.

Program for presenting mathematical data graphically.

Program for viewing pdf and so-called postscript files.

Program for viewing pdf files.

Program for viewing images (jpeg and other image files).