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You’ve made the switch from Windows or Mac OS X, and now you’re looking for applications to install. Or maybe you’re a long-time Linux user who’s keeping an eye out for what’s new. Either way, you’ve come to the right place.

You’ve already picked a Linux distro The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers from Windows and Mac The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers from Windows and Mac Linux has an intimidating image, making it seem like it would be difficult to start using it. But the switch from Windows and Mac is actually pretty easy, if you can ease yourself into it. Read More and have settled on a desktop environment It's Your Choice: The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments It's Your Choice: The Top 10 Linux Desktop Environments From Gnome to KDE, from MATE to Unity, there's a lot of choice out there. Where should you start? Overwhelmed? Start here. Read More . Those are the big choices that determine what software you start with and what will run best on your machine. But now it’s time to delve through your distro’s app repositories to see what’s worth installing.

Most of the software below is free and open source. Some applications are proprietary, and one on this list costs a good deal of money. The vast majority only require you to open up a package manager (such as Ubuntu Software, GNOME Software, Muon Discover, or YaST) and perform a search. Or you can dish out a few commands Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? Which Linux Package Manager (and Distro) Is Right for You? A key difference between the main Linux distros is the package manager; the differences are strong enough that it can influence your choice of distro. Let's look at how the various package managers work. Read More .

A few require you to download an installer from a website. If a link below doesn’t take you to a giant download button, then there’s a good chance the first approach will work just fine. So without further ado, here are the apps.




Firefox has lost market share over the years, but it remains the best fully open source browser around. Mozilla bakes in privacy options that don’t come with Chrome, and with the right add-ons, you can make Firefox feel at home on nearly any Linux desktop.

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By some measures, Chrome is now the king of the hill. The browser has become so powerful that you can buy a Chromebook and do most of your computing without needing another app How to Decide If a Chromebook Is Right For You How to Decide If a Chromebook Is Right For You Is a Chromebook for everyone? In a word: No. There is a time and a place for a Chromebook. If you are contemplating this laptop replacement, there are a few things you should consider first. Read More . All of this functionality is available on Linux. You need to download Chrome from Google’s website, but you can download Chromium directly from many Linux repos.



Opera isn’t open source, but it is free. You won’t find the web browser in your distro’s repos, but the website offers DEBs and RPMs for Linux. Opera isn’t nearly as popular as Chrome or Firefox, but it’s the third most mainstream browser you can install on your Linux desktop. And since Opera continues to need ways to differentiate itself, the latest version contains a built-in ad blocker and a VPN.

Web (Epiphany) Browser


There aren’t many browsers developed explicitly for Linux. GNOME Web browser, also still known by its original name — Epiphany — is one of the older ones around. Later versions offer the best integration you will find with GNOME Shell. It lacks the add-ons found in mainstream browsers, but some users will like the minimalism, the speed, and the tab isolation that prevents one misbehaving site from crashing the entire browser.



None of the above browsers look quite at home on the KDE Plasma desktop. If visual integration is important to you, then I would suggest QupZilla. Support may not be as solid as the above browsers, but it will get you across most of the web. In the past I would have recommended rekonq, but that browser hasn’t seen a major update in a few years. QupZilla remains under steady development.




Thunderbird is the email client from Mozilla. While it doesn’t have quite the name recognition as Firefox, it is perhaps second only to Outlook in the world of dedicated email clients. This cross-platform tool operates the same on Linux as it does elsewhere, so there’s a decent chance new Linux users will find it familiar.



Geary isn’t the default GNOME email client, but it looks the part. This app comes from Yorba, a now defunct developer of open source apps that also brought us the Shotwell photo manager. The Elementary Project has since forked Geary and changed the name to Pantheon Mail, but it promises future updates will remain compatible with other distros.



Evolution is the official email client of the GNOME project. It has grown long in the tooth, but in terms of features and stability, Geary doesn’t quite compare. Plus Evolution comes with a built-in calendar, address book, and to-do list.


Want a client that feels at home on the KDE desktop? This is the one. KMail is part of the larger Kontact suite Linux Desktop Email Clients Compared: Thunderbird vs. Evolution vs. KMail vs. Claws Mail Linux Desktop Email Clients Compared: Thunderbird vs. Evolution vs. KMail vs. Claws Mail Read More , but you can use the application independently for a more lightweight experience.

Claws Mail


Claws Mail is a great choice for a lightweight app that doesn’t have the heavy dependencies required by most of the alternatives. This makes it a good fit on lean desktops such as XFCE and LXDE. With a lengthy list of features, you get to keep most of the functionality you expect.

Instant Messaging



Pidgin is a cross-platform instant messenger that has been around for decades and attracted millions of users. The Electronic Frontier Foundation gave Pidgin a perfect score on its secure messaging scorecard in summer 2015, so you don’t need to have friends spread across numerous messaging services to have this app installed.



Empathy is the default client for GNOME. As a result, it comes pre-installed on many distros that utilize that desktop environment. In addition to text, you can communicate using audio and video on protocols supported by the telepathy framework.

KDE Telepathy


This is the KDE community’s new approach to instant messaging. Compared to other options, KDE Telepathy offers better integration with the Plasma desktop. It replaces Kopete, KDE’s previous default instant messenger for many years.

Office Suites



LibreOffice is the best office suite you can find on Linux. It’s so capable of taking on Microsoft Office Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? LibreOffice is the king of free office suites. It's unlikely to replace Microsoft Office in a business environment, but it's an excellent alternative for casual users. Here's what's new in LibreOffice 5.1. Read More that millions of people install it on Windows. Without spending a buck, you get most of the features you could want and great compatibility with Microsoft Office’s document formats.

GNOME Office


LibreOffice is a massive suite, so it can feel heavy at times. GNOME offers a range of applications built explicitly for free desktops 10 Productive GNOME Office Apps You Need in Your Home Office 10 Productive GNOME Office Apps You Need in Your Home Office GNOME Office doesn't exist... or does it? These ten apps don't form a cohesive office suite, but they come close, and are likely to help you be productive from your Linux desktop. Read More , and they take up fewer system resources. If you don’t need quite as many features and aren’t as concerned about maintaining compatibility with Microsoft Office, you may find you prefer AbiWord and Gnumeric to LibreOffice Writer and Calc.

Calligra Suite


Calligra is an office suite that feels at home on KDE. The interface is designed with wide-screen monitors in mind, and like the Plasma desktop as a whole, it’s very customizable. Calligra isn’t as mature as LibreOffice or GNOME Office, but it’s worth using if you prefer to stick with QT applications.

WPS Office

Maybe you simply want something that looks and feels like Microsoft Office WPS Office For Linux Looks As Good As MS Office, Performs Even Better WPS Office For Linux Looks As Good As MS Office, Performs Even Better Read More . WPS Office does, and it’s available for Linux. This isn’t open source software, but for many Linux users, that isn’t always a priority.

Multimedia Editors



Audacity is a popular tool for recording and editing audio. Want to record an album or make your own podcast? Audacity is an easy recommendation across Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X alike.



GIMP is the most mature and feature-rich image editor available for any open source desktop. It’s also the best free application of its kind across any operating system. GIMP is an alternative to PhotoShop, and more than capable of holding its own. Some people may prefer the Adobe interface, but with the addition of a single window view GIMP 2.8 Released, Adds Single-Window View [Updates] GIMP 2.8 Released, Adds Single-Window View [Updates] Read More several years back, GIMP may feel more familiar than you think.


OpenShot is a great video editor for creating a home video to preparing a recording for YouTube. It first launched in 2008,but it became much better after version 2.0. While this isn’t the kind of tool you will find in production studios, with 3D animation, compositing, audio mixing, and more, there are plenty of advanced features at hand.


Just want the basics, such as the ability to trim clips, insert transitions, and add a few effects? PiTiVi has you covered. It’s not very advanced, but for home use, it’s a capable tool Video Editing on Linux Just Got Better With PiTiVi Video Editing on Linux Just Got Better With PiTiVi PiTiVi, a video editor that has historically been in the "simple home user" category, has gained several features since its early days. Read More .


Again, the KDE project has an option of its own. Kdenlive is more powerful than PiTiVi, making it a great alternative to OpenShot. Start here if you use a QT-based desktop, though you may still want to try it even if you aren’t.


Ready to get serious? Lightworks is arguably the best video editor on the Linux desktop. It’s good enough that several Hollywood productions have used this app to produce feature films. But there’s a cost — a big one. The pro version of Lightworks will cost you hundreds of dollars. Fortunately the free version gives you all of the same tools, as long as you’re fine with exporting to MPEG-4 at 720p.

Media Players



If VLC can’t play the file you want to watch, there’s a good chance it can’t be played. This app is so good at it’s job that it’s one of the first installs you see on many Windows machines. The interface can feel cluttered or outdated, but you won’t be disappointed by the functionality.

Videos (Totem)


The default video editor for the GNOME desktop is simple by design. It plays any media formats supported by GStreamer. The options aren’t the most thorough, but it does a great job of staying out of the way so you can focus on what you’re watching.



Vocal is a podcast client developed for Elementary OS. That means it comes with all the simplicity and style common to that distro’s apps. The software is in an early stage, but this is one of the more exciting podcast-related developments Linux has seen since Miro How To Publish Your Video To Miro & Why You Should How To Publish Your Video To Miro & Why You Should Read More , which hasn’t seen an update in three years.

Text Editors



GNOME’s default text editor is one of the most feature-packed apps of its kind gedit: One Of The Most Feature-Filled Plain Text Editors [Linux & Windows] gedit: One Of The Most Feature-Filled Plain Text Editors [Linux & Windows] When you think of plain text editors, the first thing that may pop into your head is Windows' Notepad application. It does exactly what its job description states - plain features for a plain text... Read More . It’s also a great way to type up basic notes. However you want to use it, it gets our recommendation.



Kate is the default text editor for the KDE desktop environment, and it’s no slouch either Kate: A Programming Text Editor For Linux Users Kate: A Programming Text Editor For Linux Users Read More . Since this is KDE we’re talking about, much of the advanced functionality is easy to find in the many application menus. Plus you can tweak the interface until your heart’s content.




Eclipse is the go-to IDE on Linux, but it’s widely used on other operating systems too. It has a large community and plenty of plugins. As a result, there’s a good chance that Eclipse has the features you need.



Atom is a text editor developed by GitHub. The goal was to design a hackable text editor for the 21st century. People have developed so many plugins that Atom makes for a great development tool. You can even use it as an IDE.



Geany is neither a text editor nor a full-blown IDE. It’s a code editor Geany - A Great Lightweight Code Editor For Linux Geany - A Great Lightweight Code Editor For Linux Surprisingly, Linux doesn't offer that many good IDE's (Integrated Development Environments). I believe this is because back in the day most Linux programmers took out good old Notepad (or gedit in this case), and started... Read More . You can compile and run software, view a list of defined functions in the current file, and more.


GNOME Tweak Tool


Despite GNOME’s focus on simplicity, the desktop is very customizable. With the right combination of extensions 8 GNOME Shell Extensions that Improve the Interface 8 GNOME Shell Extensions that Improve the Interface After using GNOME for a while, you may wish to change a few things about the overview mode, or even tweak the panel. These eight extensions help you do just that! Read More  and a few extra apps, you can change many aspects of your computer’s interface. GNOME Tweak Tool is one of those extra apps. Want to change fonts or toggle the extensions you’ve installed? This is the place to be.

Unity Tweak Tool


Unity Tweak Tool is a similar app, but it’s designed with Ubuntu’s Unity interface in mind. The core concept is the same. Download this app to edit virtual desktops, adjust animations, and tweak other aspects that Ubuntu doesn’t let you do by default.



Linux doesn’t need the kind of regular system maintenance that Windows requires, but there are times when we might want to give parts of our machines a powerwash. BleachBit can do that. This tool securely deletes files and “cleans” a large list of applications.

Is That All?

Hardly! There are plenty more apps where that came from. Linux has great options for managing your music library 4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now 4 Linux Music Players That Deserve Your Attention Now Which Linux music player is the best? We compare four excellent music players you may not know about. Read More , browsing through photos 8 Picasa Alternatives Made for Linux 8 Picasa Alternatives Made for Linux You may have heard that Google is closing Picasa, but of course, Google stopped supporting the Linux port of Picasa years ago, so we've plenty of great alternatives already available! Read More chatting over IRC 5 Amazing Linux IRC Clients to Keep You Chatting 5 Amazing Linux IRC Clients to Keep You Chatting While it's certainly past its prime, IRC is still alive and kicking today – so alive, in fact, that dozens of clients are still being actively developed. Read More , handling finances 3 Ways to Manage Your Finances Using Linux 3 Ways to Manage Your Finances Using Linux Quicken won't work on Linux, but you have several options open to you for spreadsheet and accounting app alternatives. Here's how you can use Linux to stay on top of your finances. Read More , tapping into your creative side 7 Apps That Prove You Don't Need Adobe Creative Suite on Linux 7 Apps That Prove You Don't Need Adobe Creative Suite on Linux Adobe has refused to make its Creative Suite compatible with Linux, so how do you edit photos, movies, and audio, create vectors, and more? Well, you create your own open source creative suite! Read More , and so much more! These days, you can even turn a Linux PC into a decent gaming machine Not All About SteamOS: Other Great Linux Distros for Gamers Not All About SteamOS: Other Great Linux Distros for Gamers SteamOS certainly isn't a requirement for Linux gaming, as games can be played on virtually any distribution. But what SteamOS alternatives are out there, ready to download and install? Read More filled with big budget AAA titles 5 Games That Prove Linux Is Now a Serious Gaming Platform 5 Games That Prove Linux Is Now a Serious Gaming Platform Big-budget games are coming to Linux, thanks to graphic driver improvements and the arrival of SteamOS. Here are five, top-tier games which undeniably demonstrate the potential of Linux as a platform for gaming. Read More and open source freebies alike 10 Great Games Hiding in Your Linux App Store 10 Great Games Hiding in Your Linux App Store Linux gamers have some real gems available - if you know where to look! These 10 games aren't new, but if you're a Linux newcomer, they'll offer some great, free gaming experiences. Read More .

We could add many apps to this list, and we intend to do so in the future. Until then, why don’t you shout out your favorites in the comments below?

Original article written by Danny Stieben

  1. Jon
    October 11, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    A little surprised Sublime Text isn't in the Development section.

    Also, adding to what Lou said about recycling. This seems to have been the case with at least one other article (The Best Chrome Extensions). You guys really need to indicate updated/reposted articles, maybe highlight recent changes to the article in some sort of opening paragraph. Seems a tad dishonest when you include these kinds of articles in the emails you send out.

  2. Lou
    October 9, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Article is dated October 06, 2016, but, appears some commentators have successfully invented time travel (a few comments in this string are from 2014) or MUO has comment bleed from other articles or (most likely) MUO is recycling articles.
    I don't object to recycled content, as some articles may be worth repeating, but they should be clearly identified as repeats, with the original date of issue, right at the top, and new content, if any, also identified as such.
    By the way, the new logo still reads MUD. Please consider changing the font so the letters are clear.

  3. Stefan Gligorijevic
    October 9, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Where is Code::Blocks on the IDE list?It is easy to use,can be configured for every language you like,has great plugins...

  4. Brian J.
    September 25, 2016 at 10:12 am

    For Office Suite, you really have to add WPS Office. It mimics MS Office much better than Libre or Open Office & uses xlsx formats. Veteran Excel users will love the fact you can use table references and such just as you do with MS Office.

  5. T
    September 19, 2016 at 12:01 am

    "GNOME Office ... a set of applications, which includes AbiWord, Evince, Gnumeric, Ease, GnuCash, and more."

    What is Ease? Where do I find it, or more info about it?

  6. daniyal141
    August 27, 2016 at 8:38 am

    If you like the interface of Windows 95, IceWM is great.

  7. Mike Saturine
    August 25, 2016 at 2:00 am

    Nice list.

  8. DH
    July 16, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Video editing, 3d modeling, texturing, rendering, simulations and more can all be done with open source blender.

  9. dwo0d9574
    July 16, 2016 at 5:51 am

    A lot thanks for sharing your informations.

  10. macca8100
    January 5, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    All browsers are trying to catch up woth firefox.. And now mozilla has revealed that theyre doing away with plugins.. Talk about a back-step

    • bullywug
      May 20, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      Firefox is neither the dominant browser nor is it the technically superior browser so I'm curious what conditions you're using to justify your statement that all other browsers are trying to catch up with Firefox. I just read an article stating that Firefox has fallen 4.5 years behind Chrome and Opera. Don't get me wrong, Firefox has some great features, even some that no one else does as well, but as far as it's primary purpose of rendering modern web pages it is woefully behind. Try a more modern browser and give it a chance. You may not switch but you will gain an appreciation for what is wrong with Firefox and how bad things really are for them as a company.

  11. Neville
    December 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks for the list. I find Megasync very useful for syncing between my LInux (home) and windows (work) computers. I also have the app installed on my Android phone

  12. tim
    December 28, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    When I switched from XP to Linux Elementary, I felt a little lost till I found Gnome System Monitor and Timeshift, replacements for Windows' Task Manager and System Restore.

  13. Greg
    November 16, 2015 at 3:50 am

    Linux has many great appls for managing and playing music on the PC, but for years been missing an application that can sync music to iPods. I was given 5th Gen Ipod for Christmas, years ago, and still cannot sync to it with my Ubu14. I have also been given Itunes cards as gifts - completely useless to a Linux user. Like it or not, ITunes is the defacto standard for gifting music. You MUST use ITunes to access the Apple music store, and ITunes will not run on Linux. So how did I put music on my Ipod? I had to use a Windows PC in the household with Itunes on it. But that's a lame solution. Keep Windows around to sync an IPod? NOT!! Otherwise, I've been on Linux since that catastrophe called "Vista" and will never go back. I'd REALLY love to solve the IPod conundrum, however. Any suggestions?

    • Longscale
      November 26, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Try Yamipod, Rhythmbox or gtkpod.

    • Al Christopher
      November 30, 2015 at 6:50 am

      ya GTKpod is great, I can put 80 gigs of music onto the ipod and don't even need to keep a backup on my machine, just load and go.

      • Greg
        December 4, 2015 at 3:14 am

        Thanks Longscale and Al, I'm trying these options out. But how can use my iTunes cards to buy music from iTunes if I don't have iTunes on my Linux PC?

        Thanks much!

        • Steve Renaud
          March 1, 2016 at 11:13 pm

          Use the iTunes Store directly on the iDevice?

  14. Rakesh kumar gupta
    August 21, 2015 at 4:52 am

    Thanks for usefull information

  15. Jonathan Precise
    June 21, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    How about Vivaldi web browser?

    • erfan rahmani
      August 8, 2015 at 2:29 pm

      It is thought that Vivaldi and Opera are the same!

      • Connor O'Brien (Connor Benson O'Brien)
        August 26, 2015 at 12:48 am

        Vivaldi is a heavily modified version of Google Chrome.

        • Alex Thierry
          November 4, 2015 at 2:23 am

          Just like Opera, in fact Vivaldi & Opera are heavily modified version of Chromium.
          Opera is dead a looooong time ago.

  16. Marvin2843
    May 20, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Video Editor: Openshot
    Great functionality and easy to learn layout. Even allows you to take a section of video break it into sequence of jpg and then merge those back into a video stream. can you say lightsaber duel?

  17. HoNgOuRu
    May 1, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    To make the list better:

    Put VLC above TOTEM

  18. Kenny
    April 22, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Text Editor: Sublime, Atom (developed by GitHub)
    Video Editor: Nuke (personal version free now)

  19. Simen
    March 13, 2015 at 10:43 am

    How is Adobe Bracket not included in this! Such a sweet sweet editor! :-)

  20. Alan Knight
    February 6, 2015 at 3:46 am

    Unity is not customizable! That's plain wrong! You can't even change the position if the top bar and the launcher.

  21. vincecrue
    January 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    With the maturation of these graphical applications like Krita, Inkscape, Gimp and Blender they are becoming more accepted to the broader artist community already. :)

  22. jafd
    January 28, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Are there any clipboard extenders / information managers for Linux comparable to ClipMate ( ? Have been using that for twenty years, can't see myself using an OS that doesn't have equivalent capability

  23. Lee
    January 13, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Great list. I would like to highlight another e-mail app: Geary. It is the standard Mail app on Elementary OS but is available for Ubuntu aswell!

  24. Hans
    January 11, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Does anyone know an application to view/open MS outlook archive? Preferably for Linux Mint. Thx.

    • Albert P.
      January 11, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      PST can only be opened on a cpmputer with MS Outlook, even Windows programs rely on Outlook to open it. You can install Thunderbird on a Windows machine to import your e-mail from Outlook, then copy Thunderbird's mailbox to Linux.

    • Albert P.
      January 11, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      About XChat: it is no longer maintained. A fork called HexChat has been created. It is already used on Linux Mint.

  25. Romel Fausto
    January 11, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Blender 3D, Inkscape

  26. Alexander
    January 7, 2015 at 6:17 pm

    For audio editing, Bitwig Studio is missing from your list. It is one of the most advanced commercial audio production applications available for Ubuntu Linux.

  27. Lucio
    January 7, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    GLABELS print labels in any format
    VIBER is like whatsup but can easily been installed both on smartphone and on computer, so you can message via computer as using phone
    BARRY or LINBARRY to connect and manage your blackberry via linux
    LIBRECAD 2D easy cad

    • Priswell
      October 9, 2016 at 10:30 pm

      Thanks for recommending glabels!! Back in my Windows days, I used Avery Design Pro. When I migrated to linux I had to learn how to use Scribus for making labels - which turned out to be a good investment, but I was excited to install glabels and find that it works much like Design Pro.

  28. Chris
    January 7, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I am shocked you have not included NoMachine in your list of applications. It is probably the most popular application for remote access when we are talking about Linux. Update your article!!!

  29. Phill
    January 7, 2015 at 1:04 am

    In regards to web browsers:

    Firefox as a web browser for Linux is sadly falling behind as a viable Linux webbrowser, as it no longer has up-to-date Flash support from Adobe. I find it strange that, even though this has been known since 2014 when Adobe stopped providing support for Linux, and Mozilla refused to adopt the Pepper plug-in API, that reviews of Firefox for Linux do not mention this issue.

    It is an important consideration (specially for persons not yet aware of the issues concerning Adobe and Mozilla), as lack of up-to-date Flash affects ones browsing experience (some things, such as embedded videos, etc, are becoming unaccessible), but also regarding information security (though Adobe will keep providing security updates for a few more years).

    Thankfully, Chrome, and the latest release of Opera, support Pepper, and up-to-date Flash is available for them.

  30. Aravind Sagar
    January 6, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I'd like to point out Pantheon desktop of ElementaryOS, which is simple, elegant and puts user experience in the forefront.

  31. Tamius Han
    January 5, 2015 at 6:24 pm


    * Inkscape (vector graphic)
    * Blender (3D modelling but does video editing on the side. In case you need something above PiTiVi but don't like limitations of free Lightworks)
    * Krita (they say it's better for painting than GIMP, though I don't like it that much)
    * RawTherapee (the closest you'll get to Adobe's Lightroom for free or on Linux)

    XCOM: Enemy unknown and Bastion both run on Linux. Also Transistor.

    Transmission (best option, lightweight)
    QBitTorrent (closer to the uTorrent experience, except without ads)

    KDE Connect (use your phone as touchpad, get your phone notifications on your desktop, easily share files from phone to your computer, etc.)

    Besides that:
    > Unity
    > Best linux software

    Pick one.

  32. CFWhitman
    January 5, 2015 at 4:34 pm

    Some apps that I have found useful and not mentioned in the article:

    Media playing:
    A nice application for DJ'ing (that's what it was originally developed for). It can also be used to mix audio tracks for other purposes.

    Smplayer is a nice media player originally based on mplayer. Smtube is a YouTube browsing program that lets you play YouTube videos on machines that aren't powerful enough to handle a browser + Flash very well.

    A media management/playing app that has a very configurable interface and is not too heavy.

    Quod Libet
    Another media management/playing app that is not heavy and integrates Internet radio capability.

    A media management/playing app that runs as a server. It can be controlled by clients both local and remote and is very lightweight.

    A really excellent RAW photo editor/developer that was modeled after Lightroom and actually has some features that Lightroom lacks (though the reverse may be true as well).

    Raw Therapee
    Another very good RAW photo editor/developer which sometimes can be used to show parts of a RAW file that are cropped out with commercial RAW photo editors.

    Probably my favorite image viewer thanks to the ease with which it works with either the mouse or keyboard shortcuts. It has additional features like various histrograms and duplicate image search, etc.

    A color calibration GUI for allowing you to calibrate your display with the help of a colorimeter or spectraphotometer.

    This is an email gateway to allow generic email programs to interface with a Microsoft Exchange server.

    Audeo/Video Ripping/Converting:
    This is a fairly easy to use program for authoring your own DVDs with menus and chapter breaks.

    A good program for ripping DVDs or converting video files while manipulating subtitles.

    Not fully open source, but works well to rip Blu-ray discs or problematic DVDs in conjunction with Handbrake.

    A CD ripper that you can use to make sure you catch any imperfections in a ripped track. It can output to many formats.

    Window Managers:
    One of the most fully featured plain window managers, this can be used as a lightweight GUI for old hardware or VNC server sesions.

    Another of my favorite plain window managers for people who prefer a more traditional panel than Fluxbox has.

    Similar to Fluxbox but without the panel, this is more standardized and can be used to replace the window manager in some desktop environments (it is the default in LXDE). You can also use it with a panel of your choice or without any kind of panel if you want a completely uncluttered desktop.

    There are more, but I am running out of time.

  33. Albin
    January 4, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    I use many of these on Mint, Cinnamon and XFCE. An extra consideration for me is Windows compatibility of files and settings. LibreOffice has a good Windows version now. I'd note for photographers who shoot RAW that GIMP has a good plug in called UFRaw, but I prefer Rawtherapee - both good for Windows, too. I also use a lightweight photo app XnView Multi-Platform (the "MP" version is the same for Win and Linux.) OpenShot video editor is moderately capable, but I'm not sure of the status of Windows version.

  34. Van
    January 4, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    The Opera browser currently will not work in Debian Stable (Wheezy) and derived distros due to the fact that Opera requires a later version of the libc6 package.

  35. jeremy
    January 4, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Bluefish and scribus should be on the list. Also calibre.

  36. Jec
    January 4, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    what about WPS office? i hate people whining why there's no MS Office, or why libreoffice is different (not ribbon).

  37. Jec
    January 4, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    what about WPS office? i hate people whining why there's no MS Office, or why libreoffice is different (not ribbon).

  38. Jec
    January 4, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    what about WPS office? i hate people whining why there's no MS Office, or why libreoffice is different (not ribbon).

  39. Jec
    January 4, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    what about WPS office? i hate people whining why there's no MS Office, or why libreoffice is different (not ribbon).

  40. jymm
    January 4, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I hate these "best software" articles. Best is what works best for you. I know Gimp is great, but it is more than I need, and I don't want to take the time to learn it, so Krita works "best" for me. I am glad to read alternatives in Linux. Many OS's don't give you all the alternatives in their package manager though. I love Linux, but at time wish my OS would give me more choices.

  41. Bob
    January 4, 2015 at 8:54 am

    "GIMP is the closest application to Photoshop, and there’s very, very little that you can do in Photoshop that you can’t do in GIMP"

    Photosop CC!!. Yeah right!. Where is the high bit color depth, and professional plugin integration!. Like the Topaz and Nik Software plugins. Gimp doesn't even come close!. Should have said Paintshop Pro version 7, and not Photoshop!

  42. Vicente
    January 4, 2015 at 6:52 am

    You skipped many good editors such as vim, emacs, sublime text or atom.

  43. Anonymous
    January 4, 2015 at 12:10 am

    - Remmina: remote desktop and more
    - keepass2: password manager

  44. Mike
    January 3, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    Alex - careful using Distrowatch stats as an indicator of number of downloads (or actual installs). Mint is a great distro but I don't think you'll find it deployed more than Ubuntu. But it does seem to be searched by people visiting Distrowatch quite a bit.

  45. David
    January 3, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Thirding Inkscape - it really is a "must have", IMO.

    Also - TextAdept is a fabulous text editor, but little known it seems. It loads like lightning, is very powerful (Lua based), and deserves a much higher profile.

  46. Alex Cox
    January 3, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Is Ubuntu really the most popular distribution? MINT is downloaded more often.

  47. dragonmouth
    January 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Saying that something is the "Best" is a semantically null statement. It is more accurate to say that something is "the most popular." The "best" software is the one that works for YOU and YOU are accustomed to using. Everybody has different requirements, likes and dislikes. For some tvm is the "best" desktop environment which many others would dispute. The most popular DEs are KDE and GNOME.

    All the above suggestions are nothing more than personal preferences.

  48. Abdel
    January 3, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Openshot, calibre, transmission, freefilesync, virtualbox, gparted, dropbox and gtkhash are all great and very useful programs and which are missing from this list.

  49. Richard
    January 3, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Any good screenshot capture application, being able to draw nice arrows, circles, ovals and the like and can cut a part of the screenshot? Is there a good open source application that can do this??

    • marin
      January 3, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Shutter - Screenshot Tool

  50. ThomasK
    January 3, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Best first person shooter?

    I would say Double Action: Boogaloo

    Free to get and free to play for Linux users from Steam.

    Imagine Max Payne on steroids, insanely intense mad gangsta action with wild acrobatic moves and hilarity.

  51. Orbmiser
    January 3, 2015 at 5:16 am

    As to the statement KDE is "also the one which is the heaviest user of system resources." Is plain straight up FUD!. Unity,Cinnamon & Gnome always chimed in heavier and less snappy then KDE. Which chimes into desktop at 390mb. Show me that with Unity or Cinnamon. Like how you slant Gnome with statements like "This desktop environment is usually seen as a moderate user of system resources, although compared to Windows or Mac OS X it is still rather lightweight." Like making excuses or giving it an explanation for it's heavier presence.

    All this outdated and old statements like KDE is a Resource Hog or Heavy and Bloated are just plain untrue when compared to Gnome,Cinnamon & Unity. Please quit spreading the FUD about KDE.

    • wyz
      January 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Yes Orbmiser, what they're saying about KDE is nonsense. FUD for sure!

    • Jeremy
      January 5, 2015 at 2:12 am

      Running Cinnamon (for hours) right now and it weighs in at 106MB.

      I don't even hate KDE. It's a more cohesive experience and I much prefer Qt to GTK+.. but there's definitely more to it than Gnome. I know KDE users are defensive.. but "more" isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just accept that different people prefer different things.

      For some, it's too much. For others, Gnome and the rest don't offer enough. It's okay.

      And I've never had problems with lack of "snappiness," but I always thought that was just one of the latest marketing buzzwords from Apple.

  52. Dustin
    January 3, 2015 at 3:54 am

    I'm fairly certain that your description of MATE is inaccurate. It's not developed by Linux Mint in the same way that Cinnamon is. LM contributes to MATE, yes, but MATE != Cinnamon in the way you have described. I just thought I'd let you know so you could at least look into it and correct the article once confirmed. Otherwise, great article! :-)

  53. Greg Bulmash
    January 3, 2015 at 2:30 am

    Seconding Inkscape. I have Illustrator and prefer Inkscape.

    For those saying something shouldn't be on the list, particularly closed source cross-platform apps, please read the intro. This list is mostly aimed at people migrating from Windows or Mac who are worried they'll have to go without their favorite app.

    And trying to give Minetest to a kid whose friends who all play Minecraft... Nope. That's like when my dad bought that video game system from Fedco in the 80s that was "just as good as Atari." - Not. The. Same. Thing.

  54. Nathan
    January 2, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    Don't get minecraft, and pay for it, get Minetest, which is Free and Open Source, and has a very helpful community, both for modding, and general playing.

  55. Anonymous
    January 2, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    How did you guys forget kingsoft office? It's really feature rich and has skins /themes to switch to. This app will make those migrating from ms office feel more at home. And supports the most recent of ms office formats. Great article guys

  56. Anonymous
    January 2, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    How did you guys forget kingsoft office? It's really feature rich and has skins /themes to switch to. This app will make those migrating from ms office feel more at home. And supports the most recent of ms office formats.

  57. Gertjan Lettink
    January 1, 2015 at 9:09 pm

    If Ubuntu Tweak belongs in the list, then (open)SUSE's Yast is missing.

  58. Bob
    January 1, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Skrooge is an excellent and free alternative to Quicken. Stable and customizable. It uses simple single-entry accounting so it is easy to learn, unlike GnuCash which uses double-entry.

  59. d
    January 1, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    As a window manager I recommend awesome or dwm.

  60. ace
    January 1, 2015 at 1:38 am

    Totem is not better than VLC. c'mon!!!

  61. aum
    December 31, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    smplayer is very particular I love that it remembers where You are up to for any show.

  62. mmstick
    December 31, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Opera should not be on this list. GNOME Web (Epiphany) should have been in it's place.

    I don't think games should have been listed, and it's rather silly to mention Minecraft instead of Minetest.

    Ubuntu Tweak is specific to Ubuntu so it shouldn't be listed unless you rename the article to 'Best Ubuntu Software'.

    I'm surprised they did not mention the Atom and Sublime text editors.

    They seem to have forgotten the existence of the budgie desktop environment, as well as tiling window managers like i3.

    Asunder should have been listed under audio/video/image, as well as Krita, MyPaint, Inkscape, OpenShot Video Editor and transcoders like Transmageddon.

    Geary is missing from Email.

    Forget mplayer, mpv is significantly more advanced.

    I suppose Blender3D is no longer considered in a software list? What about desktop publishing with Scribus?

  63. Peter
    December 31, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Don't forget HandBrake.....a pity it doesn't support Intel's QSV feature on the linux version.

  64. Gjergji Kokushta
    December 31, 2014 at 9:25 am

    As Corey here mentioned Kingsoft Office or by now called WPS, (even though WPS is not open source) offers a very light, powerful office suite (Writer, Presentation, Spreadsheet =WPS). I installed LinuxLite ( on my very old laptop and installed WPS. Works much faster than Libre Office (LO) and you get a better Microsoft compatible documents compared to LO.

    For Windows users who want to try Linux, Linux Mint (Cinnamon) is a good choice to get used and easy transit. As I mentioned above, also LinuxLite is a quite similar to Windows interface and Windows users habits.

  65. mauve
    December 31, 2014 at 8:52 am

    You may want to try Kdenlive for non linear video editing and Digikam for photo editing / cataloging if you work with KDE. Inkscape for vector drawing, Scribus for desktop publishing, Gimp (already mentioned), LibreOffice (idem) complete the tool chain. Knowing the basics of a shell (bash, zsh) is a tremendous productivity improvement, especially if you have some vi basics as well. For comprehensive distributions, I used to be a fervent fedora user (KDE spin), but I've switched recently to Manjaro (again, KDE flavor). It's very, very easy to setup and almost hassle-free.

  66. Azus Smith
    December 31, 2014 at 5:41 am

    No doubt, Linux is a best operating system with free of cost tag. It is a open source operating system. In open source package, user can customize operating system as per need.

    That's why, most of technocrats are preferred Linux over Windows platform.

  67. Dan
    December 31, 2014 at 5:00 am

    I uninstalled LibreOffice and replaced it with Softmaker FreeOffice. It's fast and has better file format support for MSOffice files. Otherwise, I think the list is ok.

  68. ym
    December 31, 2014 at 4:52 am

    All the apps on this list are bloat! But since you asked, here are some awesome apps which are way less bloated than the apps above. Most of the below are terminal apps:

    Best security -
    - firewall: iptables (lookup simple stateful firewall) or even better nftables (or even the simple gufw or ufw)
    - lynis
    - chkrootkit
    - rkhunter
    - hostblock (not really an app)

    Best shell
    - zsh

    Desktop environment -- what's that? -- whatever!

    How about window manager?
    - Openbox (obmenu with pipemenus, yay!)
    - i3
    - sithwm

    Best app search (think, Spotlight)
    - dmenu
    - but close second, synapse

    Best file manager
    - spacefm
    - ranger
    - screen

    Best app store
    - apt-get

    Best browser
    - w3m (seriously, no javascript, no java, no security holes)
    - elinks
    - lynks

    Best word processing
    - wyrd
    - wordgrinder
    - joe

    Best spreadsheet
    - sc

    Best podcast apps
    - gpodder
    - newsbeuter / podbeuter

    Best media software
    - xbmc
    - mpv
    - vlc

    Best pdf reader
    - zathura
    - xpdf

    Best image viewer
    - ristretto

    Best chat
    - irssi

    Best science
    - r
    - python

    Best system control
    - xdotool
    - wmctl

    Best bloat
    - bsdgames, glances, screenfetch, figlet, toilet, cowsay, brewtarget

    • arjaybe
      January 3, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Ooh! Aren't we manly?-)

    • Bobb
      March 18, 2015 at 12:26 am


  69. corey
    December 31, 2014 at 3:37 am

    You forgot Kingsoft office and krita...

  70. Meena Bassem
    December 31, 2014 at 12:23 am

    you forgot to mention WPS office

  71. mpvUser
    December 31, 2014 at 12:19 am

    don't forget MPV for video player ;)

  72. Jimmy Naidoo
    December 30, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Blender( - great 3D rendering/video editing tool. Scribus( - powerful desktop publishing program. Flightgear( - realistic flight simulator. SolveSpace( - parametric 2D/3D CAD software. SuperTuxKart( - fun 3D racing game. The Battle for Wesnoth( - addictive turn based strategy game...

  73. Robert O
    December 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Excellent list!

    A few other pieces of software I would add to the list:

    Steam (Valve Software): this client software for the Steam service changed the way I used Linux... I started playing (and buying) many commercial games!

    Softmaker FreeOffice: I preferred this over the slow, bloated (but still excellent) LibreOffice.

    MuseScore: Excellent music notation/composition software.

    LMMS: Excellent music creation software.

    Inkscape: Great vector-based graphic/art software.

    Blender 3D: Amazingly capable 3D modelling/rendering program.

    XBMC: Great multimedia center software.

    FocusWriter: My favorite distraction-free text editor/notepad.

    • Doc
      December 30, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      If you have trouble finding it, XBMC is now named Kodi; seeing as the original XBox is so old, it was time to change names. :)

  74. Kris
    December 30, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Okay... so, the more I read the more I'm tempted. Admittedly, all these different forks/environments make me a little hesitant to dive into the linux world but... If we never try anything new we will never learn, right1

    Thanks for the list. Bookmarked for after I take the dive.

    • Jessy
      December 30, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      If you want to give GNU/Linux a try, and you're currently using Windows, there's a nice program called "LiLi USB Creator". It allows you to install a distro on a usb drive and boot on it, to try it out (and eventually install it). I suggest Ubuntu, which has a gorgeous app centre.
      If you feel like it's worth the experience, you can install it on another partition and dual-boot with windows, or whathever your current OS is. The Ubuntu installation goes softly, and you should get through it without much hassle (but still, be careful not to uninstall your current OS and lose your data :P).

    • Christopher Wetmore
      January 2, 2015 at 12:34 am

      Another thing about Ubuntu that doens't get mentioned as much: The Ubuntu forums are huge, friendly, and well-indexed. I ran into VERY few problems that someone hadn't before-and solved. The forum is your friend.

      MakeUseOf (hi, Danny!) covers Linux pretty well. There are also sites like OMG Ubuntu that are great for finding new and updated software. WebUpD8 goes even farther, and provides their own repositories-Andrew there is VERY good about getting new versions of stuff the regular repositories don't cover or only update on a new release. He's also good about getting patches out.

      Yes, you're going to have to do a lot of your own support work. But you are not alone, and half the fun of Linux is being able to customize it.


    • Ed
      January 3, 2015 at 1:54 am

      Install Linux in a virtual box and try to use it as a daily driver from within this box. Then you'll see how you like it, but still be in Windows or Mac at the same time.

      I have a Linux Ruby server in a virtual box and remote into that Windows PC from my chrome book while I'm in class. So in my chrome book, I have full access to Linux and Windows. If my chrome book gets stolen, all my work is at home. This way, I don't have to carry around a $1200 Mac like everyone in class.

    • K7AAY
      April 18, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      Shutter's website is blank. Anyone have a replacement?

  75. Simen
    December 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I know it's a paid app, but I think Sublime text deserves a place on this list. And maybe PyCharm (freeware-ish)?
    Also, thanks for sharing BleachBit, didn't know about that one.

    • Ed
      January 3, 2015 at 1:48 am

      Sublime text is a paid app that does not require you to pay for it. It nags you every now and then to consider buying it, but is fully functional if you never pay for it.

      Great code editor, by the way. I use or all the time

    • wyz
      January 3, 2015 at 4:13 am

      Be VERY CAREFUL with bleachbit. If you are too aggressive with this app it's easy to mess up your installation.

    • wyz
      January 3, 2015 at 4:46 am

      Hello all. I'm partial to the KDE desktop because of such fine apps as Dolphin (file manager), Gwenview (image viewer), and Digikam (photo management). Other apps you might also look at:
      Artha (dictionary/thesaurus), Nixnote (a clone of Evernote), Yakuake (a dropdown terminal), Shutter (a very feature rich screenshot app), Htop (text mode process viewer), Pithos (Pandora radio client), KMyMoney (personal finance manager), Fontmatrix (font manager), and Geeqie (graphics file browser utility that is FANTASTIC for finding duplicate images)

  76. dragonmouth
    December 30, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    I know that Linux is a super secure O/S but you could have (should have) mentioned a few Linux security apps.

    • Jessica C
      December 31, 2014 at 2:15 am

      Do you use Linux, dragonmouth? Do you have any favourite security apps to recommend?

    • denis
      March 16, 2015 at 10:38 am

      I didn't even think about the word 'security' since the day I started using Linux.

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