If you are going to use Ubuntu, however, I really believe you should try to stick to the default applications as much as possible. There are two main reasons for this:
- Support: Getting support for the default applications is quite easy because everyone has them and the majority of users use the applications. Advanced users get to do whatever they like because they have probably screwed up their systems so many thimes that they know how to get out of any situation. Telling a new Ubuntu user, though, to uninstall fifteen default applications, add another twelve, and change the behavior of everything else on the desktop is a big mistake. The applications that are there work very well for the large percentage of new users. Once they get used to the new system and how it works, they can move into finding and installing alternates. I'm just really tired of trying to support a brand new user on Ubuntu Forums who has followed someone's "How to get the perfect Ubuntu setup" or "Fifteen things you must do to Ubuntu just after installation" howto. They can't use the command line. They're frustrated that programs don't work or aren't consistent, which leads me to my second point.
- Consistency: Ubuntu is 95% a Gnome desktop. Gnome has human interface guidelines (HIGs) to ensure that there is a consistent interface on every program and that learning a few basic rules about the system will get a user out of unknown situations. Save is always under File. Preferences are always called exactly that and are under Edit. OK and Cancel are always in the same place. You get the idea. Installing Amarok (a KDE application) breaks all these rules. The new user no longer has a nice, consistent interface to work with and is left having to guess about many things. This is the main reason I support replacing Firefox (an excellent browser) with Epiphany (a decent browser): Epiphany is a Gnome application and is consistent with the rest of the applications in Ubuntu (except for OO.o, but that's another one I'd like to see replaced).
p.s. Yes, I change up my desktop, but mostly for the sake of consistency. HEre is a list of extra applications or changes I make (beyond themes)
- Firefox to Epiphany, explained above. Epiphany is also significanty faster and more stable than Firefox.
- Deluge-torrent: Deluge is a GTK application and works well with Gnome. The standard Bittorrent client doesn't allow me to run multiple torrents simply while shutting down and restarting. I rarely use it for anything bu Jamendo, anyway.
- In Preferences -> Removable drives and media, I change the default photo importer from gthumb --import to f-spot-import because I otherwise have to import my photos twice or click ignor, open F-Spot, then import. What a waste of time. Let's choose one photo manager and stick with it.
- I install Lyx and Referencer to do most of my writing because I want a Latex workfow. OO.o doesn't have that. In addition, OO.o is so bloated that I'd rather use Google Docs. How bad is that?
- I change my preferred music player from Totem to Rhythmbox so that I get more consistency. I use Rhythmbox to play my music, anyway. Why do I need to open another player?
- I install and use Empathy instead of Pidgin even though Empathy has fewer features because it is a light, Gome application (Pidgin is not) which will be the default IM client in Gnome 2.22. It has some cool features that Pidgin doesn't have like serverless zeroconf chat and panel applets for my favorite contacts, but I think the best is yet to come for Empathy.
- I add my most-used applications to the quick launch area on the top panel.
- I add the Tomboy Notes panel applet because I can easily add or find recent notes there.
- I change the preferences on the Deskbar applet to include web history, recent documents, and a few others.