Reviewing Every Single Gnome Circle Application22 May 2022
GNOME has a lot of publicity and love. And to be honest, it’s all deserved. GNOME is an amazing desktop environment that is powerful and easy to use. Especially, GNOME is loved for its well integrated and functional ecosystem. But, while everyone has their attention on the main GNOME apps, a lot of the community attempts to expand the ecosystem get overlooked. These GNOME ‘Circle’ apps are just as, if not more important than many official GNOME apps. So, it only makes sense to create a Fedora virtual machine, install every app from circle.gnome.org, and provide you with a small review for each and every one of them. You might even see one that you really like, and would like to take for a spin yourself.
Apostrophe is so good, that after trying it out, I am using it as my actual markdown editor to write this very blog, replacing Ghostwriter. It is a very simplistic, yet fully featured markdown editor that stays out of your way and allows you to foccus on what you are writing. Keybindings for markdown actions are all there, and it has its own preview that allows you to see what your markdown looks like.
I’m going to be honest, I didn’t actually use this one. I downloaded it, and checked out the interface, but there was no way in hell I was going to get it to work with my flip phone. However, the easy sharing and the fact that it generates a QR code to be scanned by your phone is really quite an accomplishment.
With many modern websites requiring two factor authentification, it is really useful to have an application that will do it without the use of a mobile phone. Authenticator provides a password-protected place to generate and store 2FA codes that can be accessed at any time, even making use of a QR code.
Unlike many other audio players that are either dedicated music players or just bare bones audio players, Blanket attempts to be simple, calming white noise. It features 15 different sounds to help you focus and sleep, along with the option to add your own.
Collision is really a quite useful application, especially if you really value privacy and security. It allows you to use provided hashes to check that the file that you want is really the file that you’re getting. Just select the file, put in the hash, and click verify. It just makes verifying files so much easier.
Commit is a very specialized text editor, made specifically for writing git commit messages. Whenever you make a commit, for example, me to this blog, commit will automatically pop up and prompt you to write a commit message. Other than that, it is basically identical to the regular GNOME Text Editor.
Audio Book Player
Another specialized media player, Cozy is a audio player geared twords audio books. It it very similar to GNOME Music, with some extra features, such as a sleep timer, storage location support, and sorting by title and author.
Curtail is a very simple application that compresses you images. It not only supports a wide variety of image formats, but allows you to compress in a variety of formats as well. It is very easy to use. Plus, it allows you to scrub image metadata.
QR Scanner and Generator
Decoder is a very simple, mobile oriented application. It can turn a link into a QR code, or it can take use the camera / a screenshot to decode a QR code. There really isn’t that much to it, and that’s really the point.
Translator is an alternative to the abundant nonfree, privacy invading translator apps. It uses the LibreTranslate API, and is still able to accomplish many of the same things as the popular Google Translate. Translator not only has automatic language detection, but also boasts the much loved text to speech.
Simple Image Editor
‘Drawing’ is exactly what it says on the tin, a drawing application. It allows you to open an image, draw, apply filters, add text, and cut/copy a piece of the image. In terms of the drawing itself, it’s quite simple and easy to use. There are many brushes, modes, and options when it comes to brush size and function. It isn’t GIMP by any means, but if you just want to draw a few things without having to get into the complicated world of image editing , Drawing is a great app.
Deja Dup Backups
Back up application
Deja Dup is an extremely simple backup utility, that, while being less powerful than something like Suse’s backup utility and Timeshift, is pretty great at protecting against date loss. It allows for encrypted backups on a local computer, external hard drive, or even in the cloud. And, just like Timeshift, you can schedule backups to happen automatically.
Font viewer and manager
Font Downloader makes the extremely annoying process of getting a new font a lot easier. Font Downloader allows for you to browse, search for, and test fonts without ever having to open a web browser. It has a nice interface, and doesn’t complicate the experience, unlike many other font managers that I’ve used.
Fragments is an amaingly bare bones, and simple BitTorrent client. Unilke QBitTorrent or Transmission, it tries not to overload yu with too much unimportant information. You can quickly open up the Magnent link or Torrent file, and have your file downloading immediatly. However, I personally, in my usage, have had quite a few crashes.
Being honest, Graphor goes completely over my head. But, from the little time that I’ve had with it, it seems like a pretty great modeling tool. It can use the UML, SysML, RAAML, and C4 modeling languages, plus, is fully compliant wit h UML 2.
One of the apps mainly made for moble phones, Health is a step and weight tracker that helps you stay fit. It provides you with graphs and goals that make it easy to loose some weight. It’s a almost identical experience to any other commercial step-tracker and smartwatch.
Picture and Video comparison tool
When you are working with large amounts of related files, it really helps to have something to differentiate them. Identity fixes this problem by giving you various pieces of information about said file.
Junction is a very simple, and yet essential application for all GNOME users. With Junction, anytime that you try to open a file or a link, you are provided with a variety of applications that support said file, and then can use the keyboard or mouse to open in the desired application. This serves a huge purpose in video, audio, and image editing, where you are working with a variety of different filetypes and programs.
This is one of the few applications on the list that confuses me to no end. While it is a good application, it isn’t too big, and has a pleasant UI, almost everything that it does can be done, and done better with the default GNOME Clock. The only real advantage is the ‘logs’ system, where you can see the time it took you to do various tasks, but this can be done much easier and more efficiently with a .txt file or a piece of paper.
I personally really like Kooha. It is very close to the new GNOME 42 screen capture UI, but with many more features that make it a lot better for most tasks. It has a wide variety of video formats, the ability to record sound from your computer and microphone, Monitor selection, and much more. It really is what a good screen recording app should strive to be.
Markets is a bare bones investment tracker. You simply enter your stock, or if you’re stupid, cryptocurrency. Then, tt provides you with your gains, losses, the current price, and the ability to open in Yahoo finance. It’s not much more than that.
Image Metadata viewer and cleaner
If you don’t want to use Curtail, and would just like to remove metadata from your image without compressing it, metadata cleaner is great for you. You can open a wide variety of image formats, view all of the available metadata, and use one button to easilly remove all metadata from the image. It’s uncomplicated and very easy to use.
I currently have Metronome installed, and I really do adore it. You just simply choose what time signature you’re in, set the BPM, and press start. While I would prefer more time signatures and a BPM higher than 260, in most cases, it’ll do.
Mousia is a fun, quite useless applicatoin that has a very neiche use. If you have a song that is just stuck in you head, and you would like to figure out the name of the song, Mousai will identify it for you. The only issue however, is that it uses a non-free API that requires you to log in if you would like the full experience.
NewsFlash is an amazing RSS reader that I would reccomend to anyone. Not only is the interface super easy to use and powerful, but there are many useful options and the ability to sync through all of your devices. When using it, it feels so professional that you sometimes forget the you are using RSS.
Redacter / Image blurer
Another very bare bones, specilized applicatoin, Obfuscate has one purpose, blurrning sensitive information out of pictures. Simply open the image, select the section of the image you would like to blur, and save the new image without having to worry about being doxxed.
USB Backup Application
Pika backup takes a different approach from many other backup application, because instead of being stored in the cloud or on another hard drive, Pika backupp makes use of a USB drive to back up all of your important files and directories. It allows you to select which directories you would like to back up, and what frequency you would like it to automatically back up. It is a great solution if you don’t like the idea of your files in a cloud and don’t have a backup hard drive.
If you work with a large amount of mathematical equations, plots is a great application which could save you a lot of time. Simply put in one, or multiple equations, and have them graphed right before your eyes. Plots, while not the best, most in depth graphing calculator, can do a pretty damn good job at graphing almost any equation you throw its way.
Podcast downloader and player
Podcasts are becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment, and it can be a little bit of a hassle to get all of your good podcasts in one place. But, here to save the day, is Podcasts. It allows you to use RSS, Soundcloud, and iTunes to download, stream, and listen to podcasts. It’s stuffed full of features, and has a very easy to understand interface.
IRC, while old as dirt, is still an amazing chat protocol with many noteworthy chat rooms that are still around. But, its main constraint is that not only do many people not know that it exists, but it is very unapproachable. And it is the latter problem that Polari aims to fix. Once it is downloaded, you can simply connect to a server with one click, and start joining chat rooms. The interface is very modern, and it makes IRC feel less like a legacy group of chat rooms and more like Discord.
Another app that I myself am using, Secrets is an amazing, easy to use password manager. It’s extremely simple, and much faster to set up than almost every other password manager that I’ve used. And the best part, it uses the same format as KeePass, which makes it super easy and painless to switch. And the interface itself, is super simple and allows for a large amount of customization.
Social Media Metadata Viewer
Share preview is another very niece, but useful application. You simply put in a link from any sort of website, and you will be able to view the metadata. This can be really helpful if you are trying to debug a website or just take a look at the metadata tags on your post.
Internet Radio Player
Although internet radio is not the most popular as of current, there are still many internet radio stations that are definitely worth listening to. And Shortwave makes the experience extremely streamlined and easy. You can browse, search, and listen to thousands of amazing internet radio stations in just a few clicks. It is truly one of the most beautiful, efficient apps out of all the GNOME affiliated apps.
Solanum is an app that is designed to keep you on track, and make you more efficient. It uses a technique called the ‘Pomodoro’ technique to allow you to work in long stretches without getting super burned out. But, other than that, it is just a glorified timer that, although looking very pretty and saving a few seconds you might use setting a timer manually, can be done in GNOME clocks easily.
Tangram is a very unique web browser. Unlike other web browsers that try to do everything, Tangram is specifically for web applications. Just open up a web application, sign in, and you can pin it to the browser, to be opened at any time. But other than just being a glorified bookmarks bar, Tangram allows you to have the same website with different, persistant logins. And perhaps the best feature, Tangram allows you to merge many chat applications into one messaging client, which is a huge time saver.
Text Pieces, while not very useful for the average Joe, can be very useful for any developers or people who work with large amounts of text. Just enter a file, and you can do almost anything that would otherwise require intense knowledge of UNIX tools, or a random website. You can format, calculate hashes, replace words & sentences, count words & lines, encode, decode, and many more things to any text file of your choice. My only issue, is that many of these things can be done, and be done faster using the command line, with tools already built directly into the system.
Mastadon is a decentralized, open sourced social media very similar to Twitter. And Tootle, is a beautiful client for both desktop and mobile Linux. It is a configurable, fast, simple, and powerful client that blends right in with you desktop. But, other than being one of the only desktop clients, Tootle isn’t really very special, and can easily be replaced with a browser bookmark.
Video Trimmer is one of the most simple applications on the list, only doing one, very basic thing. Although, if all you need to do is that one thing, Video Trimmer is pretty great. Without re-encoding, you can select any segment of a video and remove it without any hassle.
Web Font Generator
One thing many people don’t know, is that fonts for websites require a different format than fonts for desktops. And, there are many fonts that don’t have the format required for a web page. So, Web Font Generator, in an attempt to solve that problem, allows you to put in your OTF and TTF files, and get WOFF files that you can then use for a website.
The final, perhaps most boring application, is Wike. It is nothing more than a very fast, efficient client for Wikepedia, that allows you to browse and search articles. It doesn’t have any special features, and it doesn’t even allow you to edit articles. It is, while very well made, very unnecessary.
After the crazy long task of using and writing about every single app, I realize one thing. GNOME is so amazing, that every app, from useless clients, to large complex professional applications, can be created, and created well while still seamlessly blending into the desktop environment. And these many, many apps, little to big, simple to complex, only serve to make GNOME, and by extension, all of the default GNOME apps, better and more extensible.