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Why should you use Linux? To use some of the best applications made for any platform. If you don’t believe me, here’s a list of great Linux apps.

You can find all of these in the default Ubuntu repositories, and likely in the repositories of whatever Linux distro you use.

FocusWriter: Beautiful, Distraction-Free Writing

Almost every job requires that you spend at least some time writing, but it’s a hard thing to do in the web era: distractions are everywhere. Focuswriter helps by blocking everything else on the screen. Even better: you can set up a gorgeous background, giving you a calm place to focus on what you need to do.

focus-writer-beautiful

If you’re looking for an easily customizable distraction free writing app FocusWriter - Minimalist, Distraction-Free & Beautiful Text Editor FocusWriter - Minimalist, Distraction-Free & Beautiful Text Editor Read More , you found it.

Pithos: The Best Looking Pandora Client, Period

We’ve highlighted some great Linux radio apps 3 Great Linux Radio Apps To Discover Great New Music [Linux] 3 Great Linux Radio Apps To Discover Great New Music [Linux] Read More , but none come close to Pithos. This Pandora client is the best we’ve seen on any platform.

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pithos-beautiful-pandora-linux

You can see what’s playing, complete with album art, and even see (and edit!) what’s coming up. There are some great Mac apps for listening to Pandora The Best Mac Apps For Listening To Pandora The Best Mac Apps For Listening To Pandora Love Pandora, but not in your browser? Here are the best Mac apps for the job – regardless of whether you're a Pandora One subscriber. Read More out there, but nothing quite as nice as Pithos is on Linux.

Zim: Your Personal Desktop Wiki

Evernote is all well and good, but if you really want to organize your thoughts in a way that’s easy to browse later it’s hard to beat a personal wiki. And Zim is possibly the best personal wiki software out there Zim: An Easy To Use Desktop Wiki For Your Life & Everything Zim: An Easy To Use Desktop Wiki For Your Life & Everything Read More .

How useful this is for you will depend completely on how you use it, of course, but this app is seriously useful for organizing your life.

GPodder: Possibly The Best Podcast App Out There

If you’re a podcast fan, you know how frustrating the search for a decent podcast client can be. The assumption seems to be everyone is using iTunes, so why bother? That’s not the way the gPodder team thinks, and we’re grateful.

This program is the best way to manage your podcasts on any platform Manage Your Podcasts Easier With The gPodder App Manage Your Podcasts Easier With The gPodder App Looking for the best way to manage and sync your favorite podcasts on Linux? Stop looking. With a simple user interface, built-in syncing to iPod, MTP and file-system based devices, and an online service for... Read More , and while there are ports out there for Mac and Windows gPodder just doesn’t feel at home on those platforms.

Bluefish: Great Editor for HTML and More

bluefish-editor-linux

If you occasionally need to edit HTML files, you need to check out Bluefish. This editor includes quick tools for doing just about everything. It’s not easy to use, granted: this is certainly an HTML editor for programmers Create Webpages Five Times Faster Using the Bluefish Editor [Cross-Platform] Create Webpages Five Times Faster Using the Bluefish Editor [Cross-Platform] Websites are now powered by blog platforms like WordPress, or WYSIWYG editors like Kompozer, but the bottom line is that most hardcore web designers will always find it necessary to pop open a text editor... Read More , but it’s one of the best apps out there for what it does.

Music Player Daemon: Amazing Lightweight Music Player

This one isn’t easy to use – it’s kind of a bitch to set up, actually. But once you get it working, it feels like magic – especially if you have a device with it attached to your stereo.

Music Player Daemon (MPD) isn’t like other music software: it runs in the background on your computer, and can be controlled with a number of different clients. Some of these clients are graphical, others are command-driven. The real fun: a client on one computer can control the daemon running on another computer. Imagine a Rapsberry Pi hooked up to your stereo Turn An Old Amp Into A Smart Streaming Speaker With Raspberry Pi Turn An Old Amp Into A Smart Streaming Speaker With Raspberry Pi The ultimate self-contained music streaming speaker, with support for Spotify, Google Music, SoundCloud and Airplay. Let's do it. Read More , which you can control using any other device in your house.

If this sound interesting to you, check out the documentation. It’s a little hard to get started with, but the results are worth it: this is the best music player out there for Linux.

Guake: Drop Down Command Line, In One Keypress

Most Linux users grow to love the command line in timeit’s just a matter of learning the essential commands An A-Z of Linux - 40 Essential Commands You Should Know An A-Z of Linux - 40 Essential Commands You Should Know Linux is the oft-ignored third wheel to Windows and Mac. Yes, over the past decade, the open source operating system has gained a lot of traction, but it’s still a far cry from being considered... Read More . Guake gives you fast access to commands: just press a single key and a prompt launches.

guake-linux-beautiful-terminal

Press the same key again and it goes away. It’s the fastest way to type a command, and it will change the way you work with the terminal 5 Cool Apps to Make the Linux Terminal More Productive 5 Cool Apps to Make the Linux Terminal More Productive Read More .

GParted: World-Class Partioning Software

Every time I need to edit partitions on my Mac or Windows machines, I wish I could use GPartedthe ultimate partitioning software GParted - The Ultimate In Partitioning Software GParted - The Ultimate In Partitioning Software Read More . It handles partitioning in a way that’s easy to visualize, and offers support for all major filesystems.

Happily, you can use GParted on any computer whether you’re a Linux user or not, thanks to the GParted Live CD The GParted Live CD: A Quick Way To Edit Your Primary Partitions [Linux] The GParted Live CD: A Quick Way To Edit Your Primary Partitions [Linux] Edit your partitions from outside your operating system. The GParted Live CD is a simple Linux distro you can use to change the size of your partitions – or wipe a drive entirely. Built around... Read More . Keep one aroundyou never know when it might come in handy.

FBReader: A Simple EBook Reader

When it comes to ebook reading software, most apps try to way too much. FBReader is a refreshing exception to this rule, offering you the ability to read books and not much else.

fbreader-huck-finn

Seriously: I wish I could find something this simple for Mac, but I can’t. Happily it’s available for Linux.

Minitube: Beautiful, Fast Interface for YouTube

Search for something on YouTube, get instant results. Then watch all of them. Minitube is a simple thought executed well, and is great for older computers that struggle with flash.

minitube-playing

It’s the best way to watch YouTube videos MiniTube - An Entirely New Way to Watch YouTube [Mac & Linux] MiniTube - An Entirely New Way to Watch YouTube [Mac & Linux] Read More . And yes, it is available on Mac and Window for a pricebut the Linux version is free.

Package Managers: The Best way to Install Software

synaptic-package-manager

Whether it’s from the command line or a GUI tool like Synaptic (pictured), package managers are the best way to install a bunch of software quicklyand get all of your updates from one central program. Windows and Mac have their app stores, sure, but those closed ecosystems can’t match Linux package manager’s flexibility. You can add additional repositories to install software from unofficial sources. You can install multiple programs by typing a single command, or by checking them off in a list.

Every distro comes with its own package manager, but all of them are miles ahead of what’s out there for other systems.

What Else? Let us Know

I could go on. Most of the default apps that come with ElementaryOS, a minimalist Linux distro Elementary OS Freya: The Next Major Update To A Rising Linux Distro Elementary OS Freya: The Next Major Update To A Rising Linux Distro Now, we're getting a glimpse at the first beta of the next released, codenamed "Freya". What's new in Freya, and is it worth upgrading or switching to it from other distributions? Read More could fit in here, for example.

But rather than expand on my tastes, I’d like to hear about yours. Which amazing Linux apps have I missed? Let me know in the comments below, so your fellow readers can benefit.

Image Credits: Colorful gemstones Via Shutterstock

  1. Jeff
    July 31, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Clipgrab, one click youtube downloader. AMAZING Application. Works awesomely on Ubuntu Studio 16.

  2. joseph
    June 16, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Brackets for Linux is my favorite software text editor.

  3. Vikrant Chaudhary
    April 1, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    5kkk u! Looks like you have been reading a lot of these type of articles in the past and after getting impressed by the fact that you got to know some really nice apps just because these posts exists, you couldn't resist the urge to name some yourself and ended up recommending nearly useless stupid ones left from those articles... amen.

    • Justin Pot
      April 2, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Umm...thanks, I think? I'm not sure what you're saying to be honest.

  4. gs
    March 31, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Yes, the way eBook reader centers everything is kind of a pain, but it has redeeming qualities. I really like the way it opens book files where they are rather taking over and organizing my "library" without being asked.

    I did try Calibre, but it very quickly got itself deleted for its extremely pushy behavior.

    • Justin Pot
      March 31, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Calibre is extremely powerful for creating, converting and organizing ebooks, but I think it's not great at actually reading those files. But everyone should find something that works for them.

  5. DJ
    March 21, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    The greatest treasure, a Because-We-Say-So giant corporation doesn't decide the single "one size fits all way" everything works!

  6. Yochanon
    March 17, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Krusader file manager. Been using it for a long, long time and won't use anything else...and I've honestly tried other file managers.

    Oh, and FBReader is a great app, the person complaining about it hasn't used it in a while it seems. Works just fine here and has the ability to adjust left, right, center.

    FrostWire works best *for me* as my torent app, and they are *always* working on it, so that if there's a bug that shows up it's not long at all when it's 'fixed' and the new version is out.

    Kalarm. Simple and easy to use, doesn't take up much space or resources. I use it as my alarm clock, to remind me of my doctor appointments, for certain dates during the year to add/remove things to my website, anything I need to be reminded of or woken up for and it allows one to use any sound file you want (tell it to play an ogg or mp3 and it will open the default music player on your system and begin playing that song).

    SMplayer for downloading youtube videos.

    Konvertall. Really, really nice app for converting pretty much anything you can imagine liters to ounces, etc, etc, you name it.

    APCUPSD Monitor, for your UPS('s).

    • Justin Pot
      March 17, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      I had no idea FrostWire was still a thing! So it's a BitTorrent client now? This is really interesting, I'll have to look into it.

      This is a really great list, thanks for putting it together!

  7. Pirindolo
    March 15, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Forgot VirtualBox

  8. Pirindolo
    March 15, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Wine and PlayOnLinux
    For those who miss some windows software...

    • Justin Pot
      March 16, 2015 at 3:59 pm

      They can be helpful, but long term it's usually best to find native alternatives!

  9. Anonymous
    March 15, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Goldendict.

  10. Sam
    March 12, 2015 at 3:17 am

    I have used Thunderbird as my email client on a dual boot Ubuntu/Windows machine. Nice thing about that is that I configured it so that I could use Thunderbird on either OS to get to and file my email. Same email files were on saved and readable from Ubuntu and Windows.

    • Justin Pot
      March 12, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      It's always great when you can get things syncing up like this. I wonder why there's not dedicated software out there for making this process easier sometimes, could be a cool project.

  11. CoolPenguin
    March 10, 2015 at 12:43 am

    deluge torrent client, Calibre ebook manager, +1 to gparted

    • Justin Pot
      March 10, 2015 at 3:16 am

      Deluge is fantastic, as is Calibre, great options.

  12. Juan Camargo
    March 9, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Sorry, those are some bad looking apps.

    • Justin Pot
      March 10, 2015 at 3:17 am

      To each their own, I suppose.

  13. Texas Mike
    March 6, 2015 at 6:03 am

    Fairly certain that you have NEVER used FBReader yourself. Because if you had you would NEVER recommend it to anyone.

    FBReader has a long standing, unresolved bug that "centers" all epub books. All of them. If you want to "left/justify" your epub books you have to unzip them, change the css, re-zip them and then open them in FBReader. The only other option is to download the code, patch it and compile it.

    Next time, go out there and actually use an app before recommending it to others.

    • TucsonMatt
      March 6, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      Or, just maybe he actually DID use it and that behavior didn't bother him so he didn't notice it and report it as an annoyance. So often we think the way we use or set up a program is the way everyone does when actually we might be in the minority in our preference.

      That might be something to think about before slamming someone for something you really have no idea what actually is the case and is only your guess.

    • rc primak
      March 10, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      This seems to be no worse than the GIMP 2.8 default interface in Ubuntu Unity. There are no sidebar tools, and no top panel tools!

      You have to make the almighty guess that a right-click will show the missing tools, and then there are multiple flyouts to get to the sub-menus you need. This interface was designed by touch-maniacs who have never actually worked within a Graphics Arts environment.

      Fortunately, one of these flyouts allows you to redeem the old GIMP tools panels, one at a time. Then at least the App becomes useful again.

      Perhaps the same sort of options exist with the FB Reader App? If not, I totally agree with your assessment.

    • rc primak
      March 10, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Of all these 11 "killer apps", nine are for Social Media, which I despise in any OS, and only gParted is actually useful. If you have difficulty maintaining visual focus against a background, you may have a Learning Disability. No App should be advertised as generally useful when it is only useful for adaptive purposes for a person with a specific type of disability.

      gParted is only one App on my Live CD. I also include the recovery apps on the Ultimate Boot CD. (Parted Magic is based on gParted.) Separately, I have CloneZilla Live Trusty, which also does cloning of whole disks, even if other OSes are present.

      Also, I have in my Windows recovery inventory, MiniTool's Partition Wizard, which works on several Linux partition types as well.

      And to cap it off, if changes to Windows or Linux in my dual-boot mess up GRUB (a common event) I have the GRUB Boot Repair CD, with its one-click fix-it tool. Solves 80 to 90 percent of GRUB booting issues in one click. Works from CD or USB stick.

      Download or Info Links:
      MiniTool:
      http://www.partitionwizard.com/comparison.html

      Ultimate Boot CD:
      https://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
      For those with limited data bandwidth, you can buy UBCD:
      https://www.ultimatebootcd.com/physical.html

      GRUB Boot Repair CD:
      http://sourceforge.net/p/boot-repair-cd/home/Home/

      Clonezilla Live Trusty:
      http://sourceforge.net/projects/clonezilla/files/clonezilla_live_alternative/20140518-trusty/
      Note: You must choose either i386 or amd64 (32-bits or 64-bits) disk image or ZIP archive (ZIP is for bootableUSB stick creation, alongside of UNetBootin) when downloading. This depends on your PC or device's architecture (hardware) and your Linux installation (the OS installation is either 32-bits or 64-bits).

      Those are truly useful Linux (and sometimes Windows) tools.

  14. ibrahim
    March 5, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    FocusWriter is available on windows..

  15. Evan
    March 5, 2015 at 9:16 am

    For video editing, I like Openshot.

    • Justin Pot
      March 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      Thanks for pointing it out!

    • Seriaki Tauce
      March 6, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      I've recently had to use openshot and it kept crashing every few minutes without any logs or errors. Switched to Kdenlive (which soon will be included with kde distros) and couldn't be happier, no doubt the best video editing tool on linux.

    • Evan
      March 6, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      When I tried Kdenlive, it seemed that there was a compatibility issue with my videos. But that was over a year ago, so I might try it again.

    • CoolPenguin
      March 10, 2015 at 12:49 am

      for really simple edits, its one of the easiest to use.

  16. peter park
    March 5, 2015 at 3:26 am

    Instead of Bluefish I recommend Atom editor.

    • Justin Pot
      March 5, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      Fair enough! Atom is great as well.

    • Sourabh
      March 6, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Sublime is better. Atom's slow when opening large files.

    • peter park
      March 6, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      Yes Sublime is better, I don't deny that. But Atom is open source and free.

      Not everyone can afford or are willing to dish out US$70 for an code editor. True, you can use Sublime without buying it, but I find it annoying to get reminded every 1 minute that I am using an unregistered version of Sublime.

    • Sumeet Kumar
      July 31, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      I have issues with atom on my ubuntu-gnome 16.06. Whenever i open it, it displays "Google Chrome's blank windows with developer options".

  17. Dan
    March 4, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    I don't think Linux has any killer apps, and most of the apps here are only so-so. The only "killer app" is the OS itself, and its desktop environments. Sick and tired of Windows or OSX desktop? Then try Gnome 3, or KDE, or MATE, or Cinnamon, or XFCE, or Enlightenment, or Openbox, etc.

    • Justin Pot
      March 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      The desktop environments are really nice, and the choice is even better.

    • Ergo
      March 10, 2015 at 12:35 am

      Some people just use Linux for the freedom, the apps while helping to make it easier to use the OS, are not the only reason someone would switch. For example I find using Linux better than Windows for the multiple desktops that I can switch to without missing a beat. And although Windows 10 has this feature now? I feel its a matter of "too late". Granted Windows CAN do a lot of things that a Mac or a Linux machine might not have the full capability to do, but what is offered to most Linux distros is more than sufficient to get the job done amd help people remain productive with as little a learning curve as possible.

    • Daniel
      March 27, 2015 at 6:34 pm

      Linux has plenty of "killer apps", they're just not 'apps'...

      BtrFS is easily the best file system available, by a large margin, for 'power users'. ZFS is more stable, possibly, but uses a lot more RAM, pretty much requires ECC RAM and has basically no ability to upgrade in-place by adding an additional HDD. NTFS, ReFS and HPFS are pathetic in comparison, and utterly useless if you remotely care about your data. Add to this the ease of which backups can be set up in Linux, and it's absolutely the best OS for anyone who needs to store data and keep it safe.

      KVM virtualization and Docker are amazing for developers, and with GPU pass-through on KVM, one can even run full Windows inside Linux, at 'bare metal' speeds, or faster, with a lot of reports/anecdotes seeming to indicate that virtualized Windows runs faster than a native install, on the same hardware. This lets one run Linux for everything else, and rather than WINE or dual-booting, just fire Windows up inside the Linux install and play Windows-only games or other software. Linux does pretty much everything better than Windows other than Windows-only stuff, such as some games and software. The list of Windows-only stuff gets smaller every day, but thanks to how amazingly fast KVM with Vt-d is, there's no need to suffer through how shitty Windows is at Desktop Enviroment, file management, file system, etc etc etc.

      Darktable is a Lightroom-like program, and I'm not sure if there's a free Windows equivalent. Lightroom is probably better in some ways, but costs a couple hundred dollars.

      There's plenty of things that are easy, or at least possible, on Linux that are hard to impossible on Windows, and depending on the user, any number of these could be a "killer app".

  18. Karl
    March 4, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    App Grid is a great installing program!

    • Justin Pot
      March 5, 2015 at 1:25 am

      How have I not switched over to App Grid completely yet? Thanks for pointing it out!

  19. KT
    March 4, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Ktorrent on KDE is a great bit torrent client.

    • Justin Pot
      March 4, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      Nice one!

    • Karl
      March 4, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      Yeah, Ktorrent totally rocks in KDE. It just pops right up and helps with torrent files immediately, suggested I change a setting - a great program!

    • Robbie
      March 6, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      I think Pantheon, KDE, and GNOME are worth switching for. They make me more productive. Definitely far superior to Windows in window/app management.

      The only problem for me is that everything I need/want (besides the DE) runs in Windows, and no other OS can offer that.

      Such as: hardware-specific configuration utilities
      Some steam games
      Some blizzard games
      One-off software and batch scripts

      That's about it though. I've used elementary, and Ubuntu near exclusively for several years at a time, and they did most of what I needed, besides the above. If you can afford Windows though, it does everything, more even than a Mac. When properly configured, it's not half bad.

      At the same time, if you can't afford Windows, or it doesn't run well on your hardware, elementary or Ubuntu are at least as good as a Mac now in terms of platform experience.

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