Artificial truth

The more you see, the less you believe.

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Using the right tools as non-technical people
Mon 21 September 2015 — download

Not all my friends are super-technical geeks that are spending their life in a terminal, but most of them are using computers on a daily basis, often with the sempiternal same suboptimal tools and practices, especially when it comes to collaboration and project management.

There is of course a myriad of different tools available on the internet, but this list will only contain libre ones, for a lot of reasons, one of them being that you may want to switch to other services, or to deploy them on your own infrastructure instead of trusting the cloud.

The goal is obviously not to list every libre software that you should could use, but only the main ones that everyone should at least know about.

Please keep in mind that when you're using third-party services (aka the cloud), you're trusting them to avoid doing nasty things with your data, so don't be silly.

We want to take notes together, or share ideas

For real-time notes taking (like during a course), a cool solution could be to use a pad, an online text editor providing collaborative edition, in real-time. Etherpad is the most famous implementation and has a lot of public instances available.

If you prefer to use mindmaps, there is wire mapping, with public instances on its website, or framamind.

If you don't care about collaborative edition, there is mindmaps, that can run offline, and is completely client-side.

We want to pick the best date for an event

Instead of using Doodle to pick the best date for an event, there is framadate, based on (the now unmaintained) stud.

We want to write some spreadsheets together

Instead of using the infamous Google Documents, there are alternatives like ethercalc, with public instances on or framacalc.

We want to have an online meeting with a lot of people

Instead of using Skype, you can use irc, with clients like pidgin, hexchat, … You can connect on any servers you want, freenode, oftc, … pick the one you prefer, connect to it, create a room, and that's it.

We didn't use a pad, and now we want to merge our notes

Shame on you. Fortunately, there are softwares like meld to help you merge your mess in a simple and foolproof way :) You can also use mergely, who offers the same feature, but online.

I want to write a report/take some notes

Instead of using Microsoft™ Word™ to write simple things, you can write them markdown, in a sweet editor like REtext or MarkPad, … and export the result into a nice-looking PDF.

Don't forget to combine this with meld if you work with emails ;)

We want to do some planning/project management

Instead of using Trello, you can use Wekan, an open-source and collaborative kanban board application, that you can use on its public instance. You can take a look at its roadmap if you want to see how it looks like.

I want to send pictures/files to all my friends

Instead of sending your pictures by email (No one likes to have 100MB of pictures in their mailbox, no one.), you can use either on its own website, or on framapic.

If you want to share files, you can use coquelicot on the instance.

Of course, don't do that if your pictures are private.


I wrote this blogpost mainly for linking it to my friends, but I hope that it will serve you too. Feel free to email me other alternatives if you think that I missed some.