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Linux is full of awesome apps, both open source and proprietary. People new to Linux might be used to Windows or Mac OS X apps that aren’t available on Linux, and don’t know about available alternatives. Even seasoned Linux users tend to find new and useful software quite often.

Linux apps are also very easy to install. In most cases, they’re in your distribution’s repositories so all it takes is a quick search through your Software Center or a single command in the terminal. Speaking of terminals, there are plenty of apps that can help you avoid the terminal, if that’s your preference.

As with any “best” list, there may have been some apps that we left out. Feel free to post suggestions in the comments!




Mozilla’s browser is the go-to browser for Linux users. It’s still included in the majority of distros, and also fights for online freedom and privacy the most. While some benchmarks have shown that it might not be the fastest browser out there (although it’s closing the gap), it’s certainly the most open-source and customizable one you can get.



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The popular browser from Google is also available on Linux. You get all of the same features, speed, and security from the constantly-updated browser. One detail to note is that a lot of distributions have Chromium available in their repositories; Chrome, however, usually isn’t available in the repos and must be downloaded from Google directly.



Opera has always had a Linux version of their browser up until they switched to using Chromium as their base. For a while thereafter, Opera was only available on Windows and Mac OS X — until now. Since Opera isn’t very popular compared to Firefox and Chrome/Chromium, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll have to get the browser directly from Opera’s website, which is a pretty easy process.


Civilization 5


In this strategy game, you take control of a group of people and lead them in an effort to survive as long as possible. You start out as a simple and small settlement that discovers other nations around them. You will have to ensure that your people prosper, while you make diplomatic relations with other nations or declare war on them. As you advance through the game, you’ll also research various topics that you can put to good use to continuously promote your nation’s growth.

Team Fortress 2


A major hit from Valve, the same company that provides Steam, Team Fortress 2 is a comical team-oriented shooting game Team Fortress 2: The Free-to-Play Steam Game You Must Play Team Fortress 2: The Free-to-Play Steam Game You Must Play Is Team Fortress 2 just a quick game to test graphics and performance, or is it a game worth playing repeatedly? Read More . It’s also completely multiplayer (if you ignore the training/practice option), so it’s a fun game to play among friends or anonymous players. The game has been going for a long time, and continues to get updates from Valve on a regular basis to add more features.



The most popular indie game is also available on Linux, thanks to the cross-platform characteristics of Java. In a virtual world made completely of blocks, you can do whatever you want — mine for precious minerals, build lavish structures, or fight off mobs in an ultimate test of survival. There’s much creative freedom in Minecraft, and such a multi-purpose game is worth playing.

0 A.D.


A championed example of open-source gaming, 0 A.D. focuses on historical warfare and economy. Although the game is still in development with only alpha releases currently available, it is definitely playable with lots of features Live in Historic Ages and Become the Dominant Civilization in 0 A.D. Live in Historic Ages and Become the Dominant Civilization in 0 A.D. If you'd like a historic twist on games like Civilization akin to Age of Empires, but want a free, open source, and cross-platform game, then 0 A.D. is exactly what you're looking for. Read More already built in. It’s also easily obtained via your distro’s repositories.

Dota 2


A competitor to League of Legends, Dota 2 is Valve’s offering for a multiplayer online battle arena What Is Dota 2 & Why Should You Care? What Is Dota 2 & Why Should You Care? In the world of games, Valve Corporation has recently grown into one of the largest and most consistent game publishers (with the skyrocketing success of their Steam distribution network) and game developers (with the international... Read More . In it, you can fight other teams, collect gold, find items, and more. The game is extremely popular with regular daily peaks of over 800,000 concurrent players, and provides excellent performance on Linux to beat the competition.

Urban Terror


A personal favorite for a Linux first-person shooter, Urban Terror is described as a Hollywood-style shooter game Urban Terror: A Hollywood-Style First Person Shooter Urban Terror: A Hollywood-Style First Person Shooter We all know that there is no shortage of first person shooters, so we have to make our choice of which ones we want to play. We've been accustomed to the fact that most first... Read More that doesn’t necessarily favor realism. It has lots of features, decent graphics, and a whole lot of action. Urban Terror usually isn’t found in a distribution’s repositories, so you’ll need to grab the game from their website. Thankfully, they provide a utility which can automatically download the game as well as check for updates.


Ubuntu Tweak


Ubuntu Tweak is an excellent application for managing some behind-the-scenes tweaks to your Ubuntu-based system Gain More Control Of Your Ubuntu System With Ubuntu Tweak [Linux] Gain More Control Of Your Ubuntu System With Ubuntu Tweak [Linux] The popular Linux distribution is fun to mess with and work on, no matter what kind of user you are. However, you may be interested in controlling your system even more to get the absolute... Read More . You can make some customizations that aren’t otherwise available via normal configuration tools, enable some workarounds to avoid usage kinks, and clean up unneeded files to regain storage space. Most importantly, it can quickly and easily remove those pesky old kernels that you don’t need any longer and just take up tons of space.



BleachBit is a very handy tool that can free up disc space as well as protect your privacy. It can arguably be seen as the Linux equivalent BleachBit - A Utility To Clean Up Your Linux System BleachBit - A Utility To Clean Up Your Linux System Read More to CCleaner as it supports “cleaning” a large list of applications, plus it has the tools to securely delete files or wipe free space to ensure that files cannot be recovered. There are also a few other tools which aim to improve performance, primary by deletion of specific files.

Editors and Development



Gedit is the default text editor for the GNOME desktop environment, and although it might first look like the equivalent to Notepad in Windows, Gedit is far more powerful 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 with more features and customization options. It can even be used as a lightweight code editor if you so choose. However, if you’re looking for a fully-fledged IDE, this isn’t what you want.



Kate is the default text editor for the KDE desktop environment, and similar to Gedit, it looks like a Notepad alternative but actually comes with a ton more features Kate: A Programming Text Editor For Linux Users Kate: A Programming Text Editor For Linux Users Read More . With Kate, you’ll see a lot more integrations with the KDE desktop which can lead to a more productive and happy life if you use that desktop environment.



If you’re still a bit wary of a full IDE to write code in, but find that Gedit or Kate isn’t programming-oriented enough, then take a look 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 at Geany. It’s not a text editor, nor necessarily an IDE (although one could argue that it might be a lightweight IDE), but a code editor. You’ll find nifty features like a compile/run button, a listing of functions defined in the currently-opened file, and much more.



Eclipse is the go-to IDE on Linux, as it’s open-source, is used widely by users of all operating systems and therefore has the most community support. If there’s a feature that you need, the chances are very high that Eclipse can accommodate you. Best of all, it’s easily installed by just taking a quick search through your distro’s repositories.

Documents/Office Suites



The best office suite LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac Read More (barring any online products) is LibreOffice, hands down. It simply offers the most amount of features and the best compatibility with Microsoft Office’s document formats. While it’s not always perfect with compatibility, it’s quite good and continuous updates only make the compatibility better. You’ll find equivalents for documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and more.

GNOME Office


There isn’t exactly a package called “GNOME Office”, but it’s rather just a colloquial term to describe a set of applications, which includes AbiWord, Evince, Gnumeric, Ease, GnuCash, and more. These are good apps Abiword - The Best Free Lightweight Word Processor Abiword - The Best Free Lightweight Word Processor Get a lightweight but not underpowered word processor. If you need a program compatible with a wide variety of file formats, Abiword might be the right fit for you. It's not as powerful as Microsoft... Read More that provide office functionality, and are fairly lightweight as well, so you’ll often see them with distros that feature LXDE. However, compatibility with Microsoft Office formats isn’t always that great, so it’s a good suite if you need the functionality but not the compatibility.

Calligra Suite


Calligra is the new name for the KDE office suite Calligra vs. LibreOffice: Which Is The More Productive Linux Office Suite? Calligra vs. LibreOffice: Which Is The More Productive Linux Office Suite? Read More , which also includes all of the applications needed for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Visually it fits in best with the KDE desktop environment, and it offers acceptable compatibility with Microsoft Office formats. Support for open formats such as ODT isn’t that great, however, so you’ll again want to use this one for the functionality rather than the compatibility.

Desktop Environments



GNOME is a GTK-based desktop environment which provides a very unique desktop experience with GNOME Shell GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop Read More , which features an Activities view and a greater emphasis on the use of virtual desktops. Even if you don’t use pure GNOME, there are several desktop environments which use parts of GNOME in their setup, while others are based on GNOME code but decided to go their own way. 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.



KDE is a Qt-based desktop environment which aims to provide as many features as possible. It’s often seen by the Linux community as the flashiest desktop environment The New KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Is Gorgeous -- Here's How To Try It The New KDE Plasma 5 Desktop Is Gorgeous -- Here's How To Try It While the KDE Frameworks is considered to be stable, not all things KDE have been modernized. However, you can use other methods to try out KDE 5 until it's widely available. Read More , but also the one which is the heaviest user of system resources. Currently, we’re in a phase where KDE 4 is slowly being replaced with KDE 5, which is more of a rewrite of KDE rather than a major redesign. You’ll be able to find KDE 5 in some distros within the next 6 months to one year.



Xfce is another GTK-based desktop environment, but it has always been its own desktop environment rather than having ties with GNOME (besides using GTK). It is considered to be a smaller user of system resources XFCE: Your Lightweight, Speedy, Fully-Fledged Linux Desktop XFCE: Your Lightweight, Speedy, Fully-Fledged Linux Desktop As far as Linux goes, customization is king. Not only that, but the customization options are so great it might make your head spin. I have previously mentioned the differences between the major desktop environments... Read More , which is great for systems that have lower specs and would otherwise struggle with “bigger” desktop environments.



LXDE is definitely considered to be the most lightweight traditional desktop environment Using An Old Computer? Give It New Life With LXDE Using An Old Computer? Give It New Life With LXDE As Linux is arguably the most customizeable operating system between it, Windows, and Mac OS X; there's plenty of room to change just about whatever you please. Proper customizing can potentially lead to massive performance... Read More currently available, before you starting diving into tiling window managers as desktop environments. LXDE uses a surprisingly small amount of RAM, so this would be the desktop environment of choice for underpowered devices or for those who just prefer to save every ounce of power for whatever applications they’re running rather than the desktop environment that melts into the background anyways. Personally, I don’t think it’s the prettiest desktop environment (although tweaking it can make it look decent), but it achieves many technical goals.



Cinnamon is Linux Mint’s replacement for GNOME Shell. While it uses some GNOME apps (and forks others, i.e. Nautilus becoming Nemo), the user experience is quite different. While maintaining up-to-date technologies and frameworks, it tries to reserve the more traditional way Cinnamon 2.0 Ditches GNOME, Features Enhanced User and Window Management Cinnamon 2.0 Ditches GNOME, Features Enhanced User and Window Management Cinnamon, the desktop shell using in Linux Mint, has finally released v2.0, which features new window tiling and snapping, along with enhanced user management options. Read More desktops have worked rather than adopting GNOME Shell’s unique way of handling windows. As development of Cinnamon is somewhat biased towards Linux Mint, it’s not as easy to get Cinnamon on other distributions — although this has been improving.



MATE is another project of Linux Mint which aims to replicate the old GNOME 2 desktop and support it, unlike GNOME which dropped support for GNOME 2 in favor of GNOME 3. In fact, MATE’s code originally came from GNOME 2 A Review Of MATE - Is It A True Gnome 2 Replica? [Linux] A Review Of MATE - Is It A True Gnome 2 Replica? [Linux] The world of Linux desktop environments has dramatically changed since then. Gnome 3 was born, Gnome 2 was essentially thrown to the side, Gnome 3 was forked to create Cinnamon, and so on. However, Gnome... Read More after support for it ended, and has since been maintained by Linux Mint developers. Like I mentioned, they aim to keep the same desktop experience going, but plans have surfaced that they do want to port the desktop environment to the GTK3 framework in order to keep up with the latest tech.



Unity is the child of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu. It was developed by Canonical when GNOME announced their plans for GNOME Shell, and Canonical did not want Ubuntu to go in that direction. While a lot of Linux users have complained about the Unity desktop environment, it’s still pretty easy to use, customizable, and most importantly familiar Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux It's here. The newest version of Ubuntu sports an entirely new user interface: Unity. It also includes a much-improved Software Center, alongside the usual updates for the thousands of free programs Ubuntu offers. Canonical decided... Read More . People run Ubuntu more than any other Linux distribution, so Unity is arguably the most familiar desktop environment of them all.

Audio, Video, and Image Manipulation



If you need to work with audio, Audacity has been the long-standing open-source champion. With it, you can do just about whatever audio manipulation you’d like. Trimming audio, combining audio, stacking audio onto multiple tracks, and many advanced features are all available on Audacity. You can also save your project files and then export to a number of different formats and quality settings.



GIMP is the closest application to Photoshop GIMP: A Quick Walkthrough Of Everyone's Favorite Open Source Image Editor GIMP: A Quick Walkthrough Of Everyone's Favorite Open Source Image Editor Read More , and there’s very, very little that you can do in Photoshop that you can’t do in GIMP — it might just require a different workflow to achieve the same result. It can read virtually any format, let you touch up images, make more drastic changes, or even render graphics from scratch, and then save them in a GIMP project format or into various image formats. GIMP can even import videos and convert them into a GIF. It’s definitely worth a look if Photoshop is a tool you regularly use.



If you need to make simple home videos, then PiTiVi is a great tool for you. It allows you to make basic changes 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 such as trimming clips, adding clips together, add effects to clips, add transitions between clips, and then export your final product in various formats and qualities. PiTiVi is definitely not an advanced video editor — it’s aimed for basic home use — but it’s still capable and worthy of recommendation.



If you need a more powerful video editor, then Lightworks is arguably the best tool available on Linux. It’s so good, several Hollywood productions have used Lightworks in their video editing. The downside? It costs $438 to outright own the full version, but the free version gives you all the same tools but limits you to only exporting to MPEG-4 at 720p. But hey, at least it’s good to know that there’s a professional-grade video editing solution available on Linux if you need it.

Email and Communication



Mozilla’s other popular offering, Thunderbird, makes for a great email client on Linux as well. It may not be the lightest option available for an email client, but it’s among the most customizable, which can be pretty important for some people. For example, Thunderbird can apply different settings on a per-account basis, unlike say Evolution which has several options which can only be applied globally. Sadly, Thunderbird isn’t receiving the same attention from Mozilla as it used to, but it still receives occasional updates for code improvements and security fixes.



This email client is commonly supplied with distributions that feature the GNOME desktop environment. It’s a good email client 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 that looks nice, supports Google Calendars out-of-the-box, and even has decent support for Microsoft Exchange accounts. It also has tight integrations with GNOME Shell, so you’ll be able to get new email notifications and a calendar applet which ties in with Evolution’s set up calendars.



This is the default email client for the KDE desktop environment. It’s very feature-laden KMail - A Different Kind Of Email Client For KDE [Linux] KMail - A Different Kind Of Email Client For KDE [Linux] People use various tools to manage their email, the two most popular being the Gmail website and the Thunderbird desktop app. However, today we'll be looking at a top KDE choice that has plenty to... Read More , and also provides good integration with the KDE desktop and related services. It may look a little weird at first, however, so you might have to play around with a few settings before you have it looking the way you’d like it to.

Claws Mail


If you just need a simple email client that’s lightweight and lets you focus on your emails rather than providing you tons of features, then check out Claws Mail. This email client also keeps security in mind by displaying plain text emails. You get the idea — simplicity, security, stability. We have a great comparison between Claws Mail and the other three email client 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 recommendations in this category.



Besides emails, you may also want to send people some instant messages. Pidgin is a fantastic application for instant messaging Combine All Your IM Accounts In One Application With Pidgin [Windows & Linux] Combine All Your IM Accounts In One Application With Pidgin [Windows & Linux] Pidgin is a free instant-messaging client that combines all your IM accounts in one simple application. Instead of running several different IM clients that display ads and eat up memory, just use Pidgin. All your... Read More across many network protocols, including all of the most popular ones such as Google, Yahoo, and Facebook. It also offers a great plugin system where Pidgin’s functionality can be extended to support whatever you’d like it to do.



Of course, one of the most popular chat networks still around is Skype, and there’s a Linux client for this as well. It’s not quite a clone of the Windows and Mac OS X versions, but it still offers enough features to be able to do whatever you’re used to on Skype. Microsoft also recently updated the Linux client, making it more stable and compatible with newer versions of PulseAudio (this handles communication between apps and your actual audio hardware), which is a good improvement compared to the past state of the Skype client Skype on Linux: Is It Functional, Or Falling Behind? Skype on Linux: Is It Functional, Or Falling Behind? Is the Linux port of Skype still a functional application, or is it in need of some tender loving care by its developers? Let's take a look. Read More .



Linux communities often rely on IRC chatrooms to communicate quickly with others who are interested in the same things. Our favorite choice for a Linux IRC client is XChat, which is clean, easy to use, and very configurable. If you’re looking to consolidate applications, then you could use Pidgin as well, but the IRC experience in Pidgin isn’t nearly as good as it is with XChat.

Media Players



Totem is a media player that is usually bundled together with GNOME and GNOME-based desktop environments. It’s a fairly simple media player that loves videos but can also play music. There’s not much to configure with it — it’s meant to just work without any fuss. And it does that well, as Totem rarely causes any problems. A handful of distributions even make Totem prompt you to install appropriate codecs for whatever you’re trying to play with a single click if you don’t already have those codecs installed.



If you want complete control, power, and the ability to play anything under the sun The VLC Media Player - Does it Really Play Everything? The VLC Media Player - Does it Really Play Everything? Read More , then you’ll want VLC. It has been a favorite among the Linux community for ages, as it handles anything you can throw at it with ease. And there are plenty of options to look at, or even more if you opt to look at the detailed list. It is increasingly becoming the default media player on a number of distros, and rightfully so.



MPlayer is another great media player that can handle just about anything you want to play, but it’s interesting because it doesn’t come with a graphical interface Tired of VLC? Try MPlayer - A Unique, Modular Alternative for Linux Tired of VLC? Try MPlayer - A Unique, Modular Alternative for Linux Ask just about any Linux user, and they'll more than likely recommend VLC Player as the best choice for playing any media format you can think of. But it only offers one implementation -- a... Read More . Pure MPlayer will play content either directly in the terminal (such as for music) or by opening a very simple window with no other controls. There are, however, third-party graphical interfaces which you can use to control MPlayer. While VLC has more configuration options, MPlayer may be more flexible, depending on what your needs are.

How Would You Make This List Better?

And there you have it — our Best Linux Software list. There’s so much more software out there than this list contains, and it’s impossible to remember them all or try them all out. If you know of a good piece of Linux software that didn’t make the list, it may not have been intentional. Leave a note in the comments about software you would’ve liked to see on the list and why, and it could be added into the next edition of the list.

What Linux software do you love?

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

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

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

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

    Nice list.

  5. 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.

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

    A lot thanks for sharing your informations.

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

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

    Thanks for usefull information

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

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

    To make the list better:

    Put VLC above TOTEM

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

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

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

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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. :)

  19. 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

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

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

    Blender 3D, Inkscape

  23. 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.

  24. 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

  25. 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!!!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

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

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

  33. 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).

  34. 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).

  35. 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).

  36. 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).

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

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

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

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

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

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

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

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

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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! :-)

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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

  53. 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.

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

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

  55. 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.

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

    As a window manager I recommend awesome or dwm.

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

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

  58. 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.

  59. 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?

  60. 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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


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

    You forgot Kingsoft office and krita...

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

    you forgot to mention WPS office

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

    don't forget MPV for video player ;)

  69. 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...

  70. 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. :)

  71. 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?

  72. 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)

  73. 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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