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Leaving Windows behind means losing Microsoft’s desktop apps and plenty of third-party software. Thankfully not all companies choose to only support Windows.

Google, for example, recognizes that there are other operating systems out there. You could even say it has a soft spot for Linux. Chrome OS and Android are both Linux-based. Many Google developers also use the open source desktop behind the scenes.

If you’ve switched to Linux, much of Google’s software remains available to you. You can still browse the web, explore the planet, listen to music, and video chat with people using your favorite Google services.

1. Google Chrome

Google’s web browser is as easy to install on Linux as it is elsewhere. Head to the Chrome website and hit the download button.

A .deb or .rpm is available, depending on whether you’re an Ubuntu person or have a preference for Fedora or openSUSE. Installing either is akin to running an .exe on Windows. Either file will add the Chrome repository to your package manager so you get future updates.

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Google Chrome looks and feels the same on Linux as on Windows. Plus the functionality you depend on is still available. You can view your synced bookmarks, history, passwords, and other data stored in your Google account The Ultimate Chrome Sync Hacks For Swapping Between Desktops The Ultimate Chrome Sync Hacks For Swapping Between Desktops Are you the type of person that needs unfettered mobility of their browsing data? With these Chrome hacks, you never have to worry about leaving your webpages, tabs and even clipboard data behind. Read More . Your browser will also download your apps from the Chrome Web Store, so you can hit the ground running.

2. Google Earth

It may be hard to believe, but Google Earth has been around for 15 years! The desktop app lets you spin the world around like a virtual globe. You can zoom in close enough for Street View or zoom out enough to look at the Moon or Mars.

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When Earth first hit the scene, Google Maps offered 2D maps and directions. Now the latter offers a satellite view similar to Google Earth’s. But there are still uses you can’t get from Maps. Try geeking out by looking at historical changes or following the progression of sunlight 5 More Cool Things You Can Do With Google Earth 5 More Cool Things You Can Do With Google Earth In this article, I'm going to share five really cool features I found in Google Earth. These features are perfect if you're looking to build a new house or trying to find a place to... Read More .

Earth provides higher resolution images and is better for exploring without a destination in mind. Plus the experience can be smoother than running Maps inside a browser.

As with Chrome, you can install Earth using a .deb or .rpm. Unfortunately, while there are many cool things you can do with Google Earth Pro 4 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Google Earth Pro 4 Things You Didn't Know You Could Do With Google Earth Pro Google Earth Pro used to cost an eye-watering $400, and comes with some amazing exclusive features. Here are four you probably should check out. Read More , that’s a separate application that isn’t available for Linux.

3. Google Play Music Manager

Online streaming services provide music on demand for a monthly free. Local music players play the songs you’ve purchased over the years. Google Play Music sits somewhere between the two The Best Music Player On Android: Google Play Music Reviewed The Best Music Player On Android: Google Play Music Reviewed One of the best things about Android is the diversity of apps, but sometimes the best apps are those produced by Google. Read More .

With Google Play Music, you can listen to music you don’t own by getting a subscription Google Unveils Google Play Music All Access For Unlimited Music Streaming [Updates] Google Unveils Google Play Music All Access For Unlimited Music Streaming [Updates] As part of the first day of its Goole I/O tech developer conference this week, Google launched a subscription-based streaming music service called Google Play Music All Access. During the annual event, held in San... Read More . Or you can upload your own personal library instead. To do the latter, you need the Google Play Music Manager.

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This app’s one job is to upload songs to your Google account. You can upload and store up to 50,000 songs for free. There isn’t an official desktop client that lets you listen to your music outside of the browser, but there’s a third party method floating around How to Listen to Google Play Music on Linux How to Listen to Google Play Music on Linux Google Play Music has no desktop version, instead designed for mobile use. Fortunately there's an unofficial desktop player called the Google Play Music Desktop Player, available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Read More .

Again, Google provides .deb and .rpm files, depending on your distro. There are 32-bit and 64-bit options for both.

4. Google Hangouts

Hangouts not only works on Linux — you may find yourself using it more than you did on Windows! That’s because while Skype works on Linux, the client is old and outdated. Newer features haven’t made their way over to the open source desktop (though that could be about to change).

Hangouts on Linux requires the same easy steps as other platforms. Simply install the necessary plugin and you’re good to go.

You can send instant messages, place audio-only calls, or open up a video chat window. Group conversations and Hangouts On Air both work just fine, as you can see from the videos on Canonical’s Ubuntu OnAir YouTube channel.

5. Google Web Designer

Create apps for the web? You could enjoy a tool designed to make interactive HTML 5-based designs and graphics. Google has one that makes your interface adapt to PCs and mobile devices alike.

Google Web Designer helps you build web experiences without having to know code. Though if you want to get hands-on, you can.

The app has been around for a few years Google News: Color On Google Drive & The Launch Of Google Web Designer Google News: Color On Google Drive & The Launch Of Google Web Designer A few things to look forward to on Google. Google Drive gets a dash of color and Google Web Designer launches as a tool for easily creating HTML5 animations and ads. Read More , but since this is Google, it remains in beta. You can grab a .deb or an .rpm, though this time only 64-bit options are available.

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You Don’t Have to Give Up Google

Do you rely on Google services for much of your computing? Fortunately, Google is the kind of company that wants you to use its products, regardless of platform. And it helps that most Google services remain available inside a browser.

Are you glad you can use these Google apps on your Linux desktop? What have you had to give up? Share your thoughts here, and maybe someone will Google them later…

  1. Bornik
    July 22, 2016 at 7:14 am

    I use KDE Plasma in Kubuntu which is quite similar to windows on a 6 year old laptop

  2. Howard Blair
    July 21, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    The last thing I'd recommend to a Windows user is Unity (pictured), unless someone's going to hold their hand and switch the launcher to the bottom (which you can FINALLY do!)

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