33 Linux Apps You Will Love

Icon: Apps for Linux

Starting with Linux on your laptop and want to know which apps you should use? Or you want to find better alternatives for the apps you already use? This guide gives you apps for almost everything you need on a Linux machine.

I have listed apps I use personally on my Linux laptop – they are a mostly open source, all free of charge and completely awesome.

To install these apps refer to your distro’s package manager.

Right now I have no apps included for tasks I don’t need to do. For this reason there is no video editor app and no instant messaging – feel free to add them in the comments. Also, I didn’t include websites I use, like Google Calendar and Gmail – tell me if you want me to cover them.I also didn’t include apps that are usually an integral part of your Linux distribution like your desktop environment and your file manager. Personally, I like KDE, but the apps I listed work great with any desktop environment.

Internet

Firefox

Firefox is the free web browser of the Mozilla project. It has a lot of extensions to customize your web experience and feels more lightweight than Chromium.

Chromium

Chromium is the free variant of Chrome. It is a slick web browser with a minimal user interface and tons of extensions. Unlike Chrome, it doesn’t come with Flash and closed source codecs. A nice feature is that you can save a specific website to your application menu.

THUNDERBIRD

Thunderbird is the free E-Mail-Client from Mozilla. Like Firefox, Thunderbird is very customizable and has a lot of extensions.

Office

LIBREOFFICE

LibreOffice is the office suite for Linux. All alternatives leave a lot to be desired for serious work. Since it’s fork from OpenOffice LibreOffice’s development pace is growing steadily. If you are searching for OpenOffice, use LibreOffice.

TYPORA

Typora is a very sleek looking Markdown editor. Unlike most other Markdown editors it has no preview window the edit view, but a What You See Is What You Get interface.

StarDict

StarDict is a dictionary app that can access different dictionaries. I use it to look up German words. To do that, you mark the words you want to translate. A pop-up window will appear. A Qt-alternative is GoldenDict.

Text Editors

Visual Studio Code

Similar to Atom VSCode is built with web Technologies. You can customize VSCode to your liking and extend it with a great amount of add-ons. VSCode feels faster and less resources hungry than Atom. On the downside, its user interface is less polished than Atom’s. Contrasts and headings are too small in my opinion. A good example of that is the search form.

ATOM

Atom is a text editor created with web technologies. It is very customizable, has a lot of extensions available and should be more familiar to a new user than Emacs. On the downside, it is quite heavy on your system’s resources; especially if you are using a lot of extensions like I do.

EMACS

Emacs is an extensible, customizable editor from the GNU project. It is probably the most powerful text editor there. On the other side, emacs started in 1984 and therefore has a lot of idiosyncrasies. This is why the learning curve is steep. I recommend looking into Spacemacs or ErgoEmacs for easing the experience.

Todo-List

AKIEE

This is a shameless plug; I am the author of Akiee, but I really think Akiee is one of the best task managers out there. It is based on the Kanban method and makes it easy to prioritize your tasks and on concentrating on what to do next.

ORG-MODE

Org-Mode is a special mode in Emacs that gives you the possibility of note-taking, planning and outlining. Many say it alone makes it worth to learn Emacs. For people who don’t use Emacs, it is a considerable time investment to learn Emacs and Org-mode.

Note-Keeping

ZIM

Zim is a personal wiki that makes it very easy to keep your notes. It makes it very easy to connect and organize your notes. It comes with several extensions for your documentation needs.

LEO

Leo is an outlining application, that looks very interesting for people who have to write a lot of text. Use it for note-taking, outlining and even literate programming. Like a lot of powerful tools, it needs some time to get into it.

BASKET

Basket is a very potent note-taking application. It comes with a lot more features than Zim but has a steeper learning curve.

FREEMIND

FreeMind is a powerful Mindmapping software that is easy to use and available for all major platforms. If you are into Mindmaps, FreeMind is for you.

Developer-Tools

VIRTUALBOX

If you need a virtualization solution on your desktop VirtualBox is the easiest way to get one. There are other solutions for Linux, but they are not as easy to use.

SMARTGIT

SmartGit in an easy to use, full-featured Git GUI. It is not open source but free for personal use.

Security

KEEPASSX

Using a password manager is probably the number one action you can do to improve your security on the Internet. KeePassX is the best working solution for me so far.

Multimedia

VLC

VLC is one of the most famous multimedia players out there. And for a reason. It plays almost every kind of multimedia file. If you have trouble with your pre-installed media player give VLC a try.

SPOTIFY DESKTOP

Spotify desktop is not a great piece of software, but if you are a Spotify user, there is no better option out there.

Graphics

GIMP

Gimp is your solution for an in depth-graphics editor for Linux. It can do most things Photoshop can do. Most people need to get used to the user interface if they come from other graphics software.

INKSCAPE

Inkscape is a vector graphics editor, that you can use for professional designs. It has flexible drawing tools, can import a lot of file formats (including pdf) and has a powerful text tool.

SCRIBUS

Scribus is a professional desktop publishing system to create booklets, brochures, magazines and everything that’s printed.

Education

ANKI

Anki is an intelligent flashcard app, which makes it easy to repeat and to remember things. With Anki, you can learn much more efficiently languages and facts.

Games

STEAM

Steam is a distribution platform for computer games. You can get about 160 commercial games for Linux on Steam. If you want serious gaming on Linux, you need Steam.

FROZEN BUBBLE

Frozen Bubble is a cute and colorful logical game. It has a high-quality soundtrack and can be quite addictive.

FREECIV

FreeCiv is a free and open source Civilization clone. If you like the original, you will like Freevic.

Productivity

CLIPIT

ClipIt is a lightweight clipboard manager. If your desktop environment doesn’t have one included like Gnome, you definitely should use one. It will do wonders for your productivity.

ALBERT

Albert is a productivity app that will boost your efficiency for launching apps, searching files, browse your bookmark and even calculate simple arithmetic.

AUTOKEY

AutoKey is a desktop automation utility. It allows you to manage a collection of scripts and phrases, and assign abbreviations and hotkeys to these. AutoKey will enable you to execute a script or insert text on demand in whatever program you are using.

QTerminal

QTerminal is a very lightweight tiling terminal emulator. Its highlight is that you can create multiple planes by splitting them into any layout you want. QTerminal is very practical if you need several terminal windows open. Gnome, Xfce, Ubuntu and Mint users can use Tilix, that is better integrated with their desktop environment.

Yukuake

Yukuake is a terminal that drops down from the top of the screen when pressing a specific shortcut. Yukuake is very useful if you want to type a short command in your terminal without opening a new window on your desktop. Gnome, Xfce, Ubuntu and Mint users can look at Guake, that is better integrated their desktop environment.

SYNERGY

Synergy is a special tool you can use to share the mouse and keyboard of different computers. Just go to the edge of your computer with your mouse pointer and move it seamlessly to your next computer – like a second screen.

Emulators

Wine Icon

Wine

Wine is a Windows-compatible runtime environment for Linux. That means you can run a lot of Windows-software on your Linux machine. I use it to run an old version of OpenOffice that I need for using a particular German spell checker.
PlayOnLinux Icon

PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux is a graphical user interface for Wine. It makes it much easier to install software and administer different Wine versions.

Financing Open-Source-Projects via the Ubuntu Software-Center

Financing Open-Source-Projects via the Ubuntu Software-Center

Since a few month it's relatively easy to offer commercial software through the Ubuntu Software-Center. Why shouldn't this be used to finance open-source projects like the Gimp, Ardour or Openshot and support their development efforts.

Let's Take Brian Lunduke's favorite example: The Gimp. Before I want to make an fundamental assumption: It doesn't conflict with the open-source/free software idea, to sell software, if you publish the source code at the same time.

How could this look like?

For Gimp there are certain plugins, which are not available via the standard package sources and which maintenance is bugging the typical (web-) designer.

Why not offer certain plugin packs in the Ubuntu Software-Center for a fair price? For example, I could imagine a plugin pack, that makes a preselection of special plugins for photo post-production – with features that are not available in Shotwell.

This could be an opportunity for the Gimp team; who's got more competence about Gimp than the Gimp team itself. What's true for Gimp is also true for a lot of other applications like OpenShot, Ardour, Open-Office, etc.

Where is the customer value?

Most OSS users are bugged or simply overstrained by the installation of plugins, PPAs or the compiling of source code – regardless they like to use the best plugins and the newest software. It would be arrogant to say: users should develop theses skills or wait for 6 – 24 month until the next version of Ubuntu comes out.

The concept of providing updates via the Software-Center is especially interesting for LTS-versions of Ubuntu. Users and programmers get totally new possibilities bypassing missing updates by Canonical.

Why it is important to have a vibrant commercial Ecosystem around open source software

Many times open source projects, most often small ones, have to fight obstacles like new hardware or server costs – not to mention compensation of the team members. In addition, most open-source projects are developed by solo developers and are lacking manpower to have faster development cycles.

If you are now interested in developing business ideas around open source software, check the two articles:

How do you think about it? Should open source projects try to raise money with the Software-Center?


Positioning Linux In The Desktop Market (or Why Hendrix would have used Linux)

Hendrix painting by furibond
Would he have used Linux? by furibond

At the moment some people are telling us Linux would have finally lost the battle for the desktop. For justification they claim Windows 7 is overtaking the netbook market. In this essay I will argue, Linux has not lost the desktop market and it should not position itself in the low-end PC market but in the high-end.

Linux can not lose the desktop market.

As I said before, Linux can not be beaten in the market as long there are curious programmers all over the world contributing to Free Software. For the success of Free Software it is not important how many people are using it. It is important how many people are contributing to Free Software. This argument stays true for big projects, like Gnome and KDE, and for all the small projects, like Scribes, Impressive, Gnome-Do, etc., that make Open Source Software so exciting.

Linux is build as a high-end system

Linus Torvalds created Linux because there were no suitable Unix-like operating systems that he could afford. That's why he build an operating system he would find "beautiful". In conclusion it is fair to say that Linux was build as a high-end operating system. The coincidence that Linux is running on such a variety of devices is just a sign of its class and the advantage of the OSS development model.

Linux competes with OS X

Fender Stratocaster by daves_place
Fender Stratocaster by daves_place

Linux is created to be an Unix and not a DOS. If you compare operating systems to electric guitars Linux is a Fender Stratocaster. It is hard to learn but very rewarding. Windows in contrast is a Guitar Hero game controller. It is nice in the beginning but the possibilities are very limited and it hampers your creativity. Personally I think the real competitor to Linux is OS X. OS X would be a Gibson Les Paul. Very good lookin', a bit easier to play, but very expensive and not as versatile as a Strat. Like the guitars from Fender and Gibson, both operating systems have some things in common, but differ in certain aspect, especially in philosophy. The biggest similarity of the both operating systems is that they are both Unixes.

Some philosophical differences between Linux and OS X

open source vs. closed source: If you want, you can use the sources of Linux as you wish. Learn from, change it or rip it apart an build something totally new out of it. In the sense of Google's informal corporate motto "Don't be evil!" Apple is the devil. If you mess with Apple's software you could end up having a lot of fun with their lawyers. total freedem vs. a bit more guidence: Linux lets you digg very deep into the operating system. They user, if he is admin too, has total control over the system. By Design you can totally rebuild your system. OS X doesn't give you as much freedom, on the other hand you are not as likely to screw something up with your system.

The future of Linux is very bright.

Tux
A well fed penguin

Besides that Linux has a very robust business model and as such is here to stay on the desktop, I think Linux should be sold with high-end desktop PCs and laptop and should not be used on low cost hardware. It excels with high-end hardware, especially when used by talented people. Linux is a product for power users who want to use their computers to boost their creativity and create new exciting things. As Alan Key said:

The computer is simply an instrument whose music is ideas.

Now it's your turn. What is your opinion on that? By the way Hendrix mostly played the Stratocaster.


Linux Users Are Software Pirates

Why are Linux Users Software Pirates?

In one sentence: Linux users are software pirates, because they don't pay for their software. Period!

We all talk about the awesomeness of  Linux, Ubuntu and Open-Source-Software, but who of us is willing to pay for OSS? Nobody! Everything has to be free of charge. But Linux and OSS is about freedom, not free beer! We, who want everything for free, aren't any better than those who illegally leach software and games.

Why this is a fucking problem!

Software for Linux sucks!

Tell me about one high-end graphic suite, tell me about one state of the art game, tell me about one top business software!

It's hard to believe, writing awesome software is hard work; anybody who works hard has to eat and sleep, otherwise she will die. Sometimes this developer wants to take care of his family – strange thing.

What is the consequence for the average open-source developer?

Surprise: She goes to work.

What doesn't she do, when she is working? Exactly, she can not continue work on her open-source project.

Let's reference Brian Lunduke and take a look at The Gimp:

To make The Gimp competitive to Photoshop the project needs 3 developers and 1 tester. If everybody earns 75 k, what is not much for decent developers, the project needs about 300 k in funding!  There a no marketing efforts or anything else included. Just the money for the developers, that they can eat and will not die and will finish the project.

If we want killer open-source-apps, we have to pay for it – it is just this simple!

What can we do?

Donate! Donate! Donate!

Unfortunately, we all donate to infrequently and we donate to small amounts – myself included.

If we agree, that open-source users have to donate, then we should ask the following question:

How and how much should we donate?

Donating a little amount for every project doesn't make much sense, therefore I suggest a five step action plan:

  1. Forget the big distros, the Linux kernel and other company backed projects – they have enough money.
  2. Now think about it: Without which software you couldn't live anymore? Which project do you need for your job? Make a list.
  3. Write down your top 5. My list looks like this: Top5 Open-Source-Programme
  4. Now imagine: somebody takes your top 5 hostage.  How much ransom would you pay? What is your personal value for each program in your top 5? Take this amount and write it behind the corresponding program in your list.
  5. Donate! Yeah, you're right, the different amounts you have written down, this is what you donate. The great thing is, you can donate whenever you want. For example, after your next big customer project is finished and you earned a ton of money – but remember: With freedom comes responsibility!

To say it again, if you donate you are just fair. If you are don't donate you behave not much different than a software pirate, that found a legal loophole.

I know the temptation to do nothing is great, but get yourself together – do something!


The perfect vocabulary trainer

Most of us have trouble to learn vocabulary, technical terms or facts. But why is that? Because we don't repeat things we learned often.

Mnemosyne helps

At that point comes Mnemosyne to the game. Mnemosyne works like an intelligent vocabulary trainer. Who knows what to repeat when you should repeat it.

If you want to memorize something Mnemosyne is your perfect match. For example, add some vocabularys. Mnemosyne will test you on that words and you will have to grade your answer. Mnemosyne will then try to estimate the next time it test you on that words.

Tipps

I use Mnemosyne to:

  • learn Englisch words that I don't know, when I'm on the internet
  • memorize facts from a textbook.

Download

For installation on Ubuntu and other Debian-based OS klick on that button:

Installbutton Mnemosyne

For all other OS go to that page: Mnemosyne-Download


Faster with Ubuntu Part 4: Impressive

Today I want to show you a tool that will raise your presentation power and makes you faster getting what you want. Impressive shows presentations, saved as pdf , with tasty animations between slides. Impressive has a lot of additional functions. Two highlights are:

1. Overview Function:

The overview makes it easy to jump back to a certain slide after the presentation. You just hit the <Tab>-key and you see an overview of all the slides of the presentation. Now you choose the desired slide via mouse or arrow key and hit <Enter>.

2. Highlight Function:

If you want to highlight a certain part on a slide, you can paint a rectangle with your mouse and this part will be highlighted.

Impressive has a ton of other features that you can read about in the included demo presentation.

Install It

Impressive has some debencies that should be already installed on most Ubuntu systems. To proof that type in the command line:

aptitude install python python-opengl python-pygame python-imaging xpdf-reader gs pdftk xdg-utils mplayer

Ok, you can copy & paste 🙂 Now download Impressive and deflate it.

Use It

First prepare a presentation and save it as pdf. Now start you presentation with

python [path/to/Impressive] impressive.py [präsentation].pdf

What do you think of Impressive. Will you use in there upcumming talks? What about the other functions?

Discover the opportunities and rock Ubuntu today.


ghotkey – Set Hotkeys in gnome easily

This is a little Python program I wrote. It lets you set the 12 Metacity (the gnome window manager) hotkeys for any application you like. Set any command you like in the left entry field of a row and the corresponding hotkey in the right entryfield. The format for the hotkeys looks like "<Control>a" or "<Shift><Alt>F1". The parser is fairly liberal and allows lower or upper case, and also abbreviations such as "<Ctl>" and "<Ctrl>". If you set the option to the special string "disabled", then there will be no keybinding for this action.

Download ghotkey and rock Ubuntu today. Download: ghotkey-0.1.tar.gz


Faster Ubuntu Part 3: Parcellite

You all know the shortcuts <Ctrl>+c, <Ctrl>+v and <Ctrl>+x to copy and paste content from the clipboard. If not you should change that immediately. A great disadvantage of the standard clipboard is, if you want copy different text passages you have to change between the source and the target back and forth. Parcellite creates an history of the clipboard for you.

Install It

Download the package, install via the GDebi installer and add it to your autostart list.

Use It

A mouse klick on the applet or the shortcut <Ctrl>+<Alt>+h Parcellite shows you the last 25 clipboard entries and you can choose one.

You can paste this entry as usual via <Ctrl>+v. A typical use case would be, if you want to use a certain text passage several times, but want to work as usual without switching back to the original source all the time. It needs some time to use Parcellite effectively. Discover the opportunities and rock Ubuntu today.


Lastdocs Plugin For gEdit

This is a new version of my Lastdocs plugin for gEdit. I improved the performance a bit.The Lastdocs plugin exposes a simple dialog that shows you the last opened files which can be edited with gEdit. It is inspired by Scribes a very promising editor that is in an early development stage.

What is the advantage over the recent files menu entry?

The the Lastdocs plugin is better suited to my workflow. I just press <Ctrl><Shift><o>,

the Lastdocs dialog pops up and I can use the arrow keys to choose a file. There doesn't need any mouse action to be involved.

How can I download the plugin?

Download the following file:

Unpack it and put the files in

~/.gnome2/gedit/plugins/

and activate the plugin.
If you have any ideas for improvement, don't hesitate to post them.

Now download lastdocs-plugin and rock Ubuntu today. Download: lastdocs-0.1.tar.gz


Thoughts About Chrome

There is a lot buzz about Chrome – Googles new Web browser. What I don't understand is why is there so much buzz about a piece of software. When a new version of Opera is released, in my opinion, the most innovative browser of the last years, almost nobody cares. Now Google releases a browser and everybody is going nuts. I want to comment on some statements about Chrome (This will not be technical):

  • Chrome is a Windows killer: Despite the fact that I don't think the people at Google hate Microsoft, I think Chrome is just a new browser that gives users more opportunities. Firefox did not kill Microsoft either. Just to have a really powerful JavaScript engine doesn't make the choice of the OS redundant. By the way, Microsoft is a dying giant anyway.

  • Google wants a big chunk of the mobile browser market: I think Google's growth strategy heavily relies on the mobile browser market. As a result for them, it is very important that people have easy access to the mobile web and a good experience using it. Therefore a nice integration between Chrome on the desktop and Android/mobile Chrome would be helpful.

  • Google never hit a second home run: Which application from Google you use all the time? It is not Orkut, is it? Google is mostly late when they releasing a new application and normally not the first to develop something really new. Although things like Android look very promising they have yet to prove that they can be successful. The same applies to Chrome.

Personally, I think on the desktop PC Chrome will have a hard time competing with the Internet Explorer. Just because a lot of people are too lazy to change their habits. Actually, I would say it is more likely that Firefox users will try out Chrome than IE users. But the release of the new browser means that Google is putting pressure on the market leader what should be a good thing for us customers.

UPDATE: More about Google's mobile Strategy