The app I’ve used for the longest period of time

What is the piece of software (app) you have used continuously for the longest period of time?

This is an interesting question. More than 2 decades have passed since I’ve got my first computer. Throughout all this time my usage of computers evolved dramatically, most of the software I installed at the time no longer exists or is so outdated that there no point in using it.

Even the “type” of software changed, before I didn’t rely on so many web apps and SaaS (Software as a service) products that dominate the market nowadays.

The devices we use to run the software also changed, now it’s common for people to spend more time on certain mobile apps than their desktop counterparts.

In the last 2 decades, not just the user needs changed but also the communication protocols in the internet, the multimedia codecs and the main “algorithms” for certain tasks.

It is true that many things changed, however others haven’t. There are apps that were relevant at the time, that are still in use and I expect that they will still be around in for many years.

I spent some time thinking about my answer to the question, given I have a few strong contenders.

One of them is Firefox. However my usage of the browser was split by periods when I tried other alternatives. I installed it when it was initially launched and I still use it nowadays, but the continuous usage time doesn’t take it to the first place.

I used Windows for 12/13 straight years before switching to Linux, but it is still not enough (I also don’t think operating systems should be taken into account for this question, since for most people the answer would be Windows).

VLC is another contender, but like it happened to Firefox, I started using it early and then kept switching back and forth with other media players throughout the years. The same applies to the “office” suite.

The final answer seems to be Thunderbird. I’ve been using it daily since 2004, which means 16 years and counting. At the time I was fighting the ridiculously small storage limit I had for my “webmail” inbox, so I started using it to download the messages to my computer in order to save space. I still use it today for totally different reasons.

And you, what is the piece of software or app you have continuously used for the longest period of time?

Technology and Internet

Enigmail, passphrase issue

This is a short post where I try to explain the steps i followed to fix the behavior of Enigmail on my machine.

In the last few weeks i wasn’t able to use any signing and encryption capabilities on my emails due to a problem that showed an unclear error message.

I don’t remember the cause of the issue but it is somehow related to a fresh install of my current operating system (Ubuntu). So every time i tried to sign a message, the following error message showed up: “Error – Bad passphrase”, even without inserting any password. I searched on the web to see if it was a common problem and most of the answers were related with the cache of “gpg-agent” and how to clean it. I tried most of the solutions without success.

It took a while until i found an entry in the support forum that allowed me to fix the issue.

So what happened?

After a fresh system install I had the wrong “pinentry” application set up (i still don’t know why “pinentry-qt4” didn’t work) and it was making Enigmail show the error without asking for the passphrase. After going through the following steps i was able to put everything working again.

  1. Set the pinentry symlink to the “pinentry-gtk-2” application:
    sudo ln -s -f /usr/bin/pinentry-gtk-2 /usr/bin/pinentry
  2. Edit  “~/.gnupg/gpg-agent.conf” and change the following line (if it exists):
    pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-qt4


    pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-gtk-2
  3. Log out of your system session and log in again.

In the end it is easy to solve but it took me while until i found an answer that lead me in the right direction. So if you run into the same issue in the future i hope this might be useful to you and prevent you to waste a lot of time to solve it.