Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

Focus: BibleTime

I see dozens of programs these days. Writing a book on Ubuntu and more specifically the applications that are available forces me to look into them. I have been using Windows and Windows based programs for more than a decade, so that is always a logical point of reference.

A program that won’t make it into the book is BibleTime. Partly because we only have so much space to fill and partly because it is interesting for a small group of potential readers. Not to say there is no interest in this kind of niche. There is an Ubuntu version out there that caters to the needs of christians and last thing I heard there was a islamic version as well.

BibleTime is a Bible study program. I have used a few of these under Windows, but found them mostly cumbersome. They were memory hogs and the interface was unappealing and clunky. The amount of available information was astounding however, but one program did not differ greatly from the other. They all used the vast resources that are available in the public domain. One thing was highly annoying: adding most of those resources to the program, one by one. I was curious how the open source program would do against that.

BibleTime is a KDE based program, so installing that one on a clean Ubuntu will definitely bring up some dependencies as well. When you start the program up for the first time you are given the opportunity to install the resource files. The list of languages, bibles and publications is impressive. Nothing new but impressive nonetheless. The Dutch are limited to the Statenvertaling only since all the other Bible translations are not in the public domain. Anyway, you can tick of all the books you like and BibleTime installs them from it’s own FTP server. There is a warning for those folks out there that live in countries where the possession of a Bible is illegal. From then on it is a matter of waiting untill your bookshelf is filled. Major improvement.

From then on you are free to use the software and when you are used to the Windows based programs there is nothing surprising here. The left pane contains the bookshelf and the main screen is your run of the mill multipane setup. Every publication you open gets it’s own pane. With a click on the right button all panes synchronize when you go from scripture to scripture. I tried a few searches of phrases I new should be in either the bible version or the commentaries, but they turned up empty. What I didn’t like is that the bookshelf doesn’t use the full names of the publications and Bible versions. Insiders know the the meaning of MHC or ASV, but more casual reseachers wouldn’t mind to see Matthew Henry’s Commentary or American Standard Version as default. The speed of the program was fine, way better than the Windows-based counterparts.

In conclusion, BibleTime provides a decent interface to public domain bible study publications with a very easy process to add new publications to your library. What it shares with it’s closed source ‘brethren’ is the other side of making things accessible. You have to make it appealing to start digging through it all. The screen layout should be inviting for non-scholars. The scholars are well taken care of, but shouldn’t it be the purpose to reach the non-scholars? At least, that was the group Jesus mainly ministered to.

Tags: Ubuntu, Linux, BibleTime


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5 thoughts on “Focus: BibleTime

  1. munkii on said:

    yeah, jesus started using linux a while ago, i think he prefers slackware though, what’s with the whole ubuntu thing?

  2. LOL, but I guess you are the one who likes Slackware more. Anyway, I think I understand why you find the various customized Ubuntu versions. With a tool like Reconstructor it is quite simply to tailor make your own version of Ubuntu. I have one myself for another project ( and I am gearing for the second release later this spring. I have yet to find another distribution that allows such a simple remastering.
    In my case the use of Ubuntu began when I had the opportunity to be an author of a book on Linux. The book targets first time Linux users and after an elaborate discussion with the other writers we settled on Ubuntu. I installed it last summer and have been using it ever since to much satisfaction. It is the first and so far the only distribution that kept me using Linux on a day to day basis, that provides all the tools I need. It is by no means perfect, but I realize that by contributing my bug reports and write my blog posts and articles I an influence the improvements.
    Over the years I have tried and continue to try scores of Linux distributions (even on the iMac) and was impressed an disappointed at times. I am not really interested in what changed under the hood (really, I wouldn’t grasp the hows and whys of GCC 2.x.1.over GCC 2.x.4 anyway). I am interested in how the distro looks from the viewpoint of the average desktop user who just wants to get the work done. Yes, the Windows look.
    Back to Jesus, I don’t think he would be as evangelical or radical about Linux as some afficionados are. He wasn’t interested in the Pharisees, Sadducees or Herodians of his time, other than condemn them for loosing sight of what was really important. In the case of Linux he would most likely point out that the infighting is a waste of time, that it isn’t important what distro you use but that you have to keep the purpose of using the computer in mind. It’s a tool to get other things done, not a purpose in itself. 😉

  3. munkii on said:

    actually. i use suse, jesus says they got his name wrong, but i keep telling him that’s not what they meant, he still uses slackware just to make me mad, i heard he’s dual booting windows too, the jerk!

  4. pashabear on said:

    You say, [quote]With a click on the right button all panes synchronize when you go from scripture to scripture.[/quote] However, I haven’t been able to make this work. I want the synchronization, but can’t get it! Would appreciate some advice. Thanks

  5. Sure, no problem. When you check the screenshot in the article amd look at the left pane there is button on the bar with a green on blue Bible. Clicking on that button does the trick. Well, at least for me it did.

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