I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite Linux applications. What you’ll find in this article are applications that I personally consider essential for any Linux distribution. This isn’t an exhaustive list and some of the entries may also be available on other platforms like Windows or macOS. This will be a ‘live’ list that I’ll update from time to time when I come across new applications that I feel deserve a place in this article.
Email and Communication
- Evolution – Desktop email clients are something I find essential despite more and more people opting to access this service through a web browser. The email client I place at the top of the pile is Evolution. Evolution is developed by the GNOME project and has been around near enough 20 years at this point. It has many features that I find incredibly useful. You can access your notes, calendar, address book and tasks all from within one window which you can sync across services like Google and Outlook. Some other features include filters, spam filtering, support for encryption plus a whole lot more! You can read more about Evolution at their wiki here.
- Telegram – Chat applications and services are a dime a dozen these days but I’ve not found many that offer a user experience quite like Telegram’s. Telegram is a multi-platform chat app that supports Linux, Android, Windows, iOS, macOS etc. Messages are encrypted using MTProto and they also have a feature called ‘Secret Chats’. Secret chats feature end to end encryption and leave no trace on Telegram’s servers. Some other key features include the ability to host group chats with up to 200,000 members. You can also use Telegram to make audio calls with other Telegram users as well as share photos, videos and other files.
Video Editing and Capture
- Kdenlive – Pretty much all of the videos you see on my YouTube channel are edited using Kdenlive. Kdenlive is based on the MLT Framework, KDE and Qt and has been going since the early 2000s. It’s a non-linear video editor that supports many audio and video codecs. It features many effects and transitions that you can add to your projects to get to make your videos more appealing. The Kdenlive team have also gone through the extra effort in publishing their application in multiple formats. If you happen to be on a distribution that doesn’t have a native package for kdenlive or they do but it’s an older version you can opt to use their flatpak,snap or Appimage. Visit their website to learn more here.
- OBS-Studio – When it comes to video capture utilities OBS-Studio reigns supreme. Short for Open Broadcaster Software, OBS has been a mainstay for many content creators for quite some time. The reason for OBS-Studio’s success is due in part to the number of features it offers those who use it. Do you want to record some game play videos while showing a feed from your camera plus multiple overlays all from within one application? OBS has got you covered. It isn’t just for gamers either. Like Kdenlive, all of the videos host on my YouTube channel were captured through OBS. You can create multiple scenes and transition between them on the fly with very little effort. You can also use it for live streaming to popular services such as Twitch or YouTube.
- GIMP – For anyone who has ever searched for ‘Photoshop alternatives’ this one should come as no surprise. GIMP stands for the GNU Image Manipulation Program and is licensed under GPLv3 .GIMP has been going for 20+ years which means you’ll find plenty of tutorials and guides online to learn how to get the best out of the program. You’ll find it has plenty of features which enable you edit images to a high standard. It utilizes layers and features many tools such as the ‘fuzzy select tool’ which enables you to select areas based on colour similarity. There is far too many features and tools to include in this list but for a full breakdown click here. It’s abilities can also be extended by a wide array of plugins that are easily installed.
- Inkscape – If you’re after a free and open-source vector graphics editor then Inkscape has got you covered! It’s powerful and robust and has great support for many different file formats. It’s a feature packed programs that offers graphic designers a great alternative to Adobe Illustrator without the premium price tag! To learn more about Inkscape and it’s features click here.
- Steam – Valves decision to support Linux with Steam back in 2012 was big news and something that I feel has been instrumental in the growth of Linux in the desktop space. Since then it’s support hasn’t dwindled either. Steam now offers thousands of games that have native Linux support, but that isn’t all. In 2018 Valve released a tool called Proton. Proton is a compatibility layer that is baked into Steam which allows you to run games that are Windows only.
- Lutris – Gaming on Linux has come a very long way with the advent of Steam’s Proton tool. There are however still many games that Steam doesn’t provide which is where Lutris comes in. With Lutris you will have access to games available on Windows such as those provided by Blizzard and the Epic Games Store. Lutris makes it easier to install these Windows only games on Linux using WINE. It provides the user a nice and clean interface to manage their games all from one place! If you’re a Linux gamer that doesn’t using Lutris you are severely missing out. Click here to visit their website and learn more.
- LibreOffice – For those of us that need a desktop office suite similar to the likes of Microsoft Office, LibreOffice is the best of the bunch. It began life by forking another office suite you might remember called OpenOffice. LibreOffice provides users free and open-source alternatives to most of the programs included within the Microsoft Office suite. It’s Word counterpart is called Writer and it’s a fully fledged desktop word processor that also has support for Microsoft Office document types. As well as Writer it includes other applications such as Draw,Calc and Impress. You’ll find LibreOffice in pretty much all Linux distributions native repositories but they also provide Snap,flatpak and Appimage formats of their office suite too. Visit their website here.
Music and Video
- Rhythmbox – Music players in Linux are aplenty but the one I find the most reliable and easy to use is Rhythmbox. It has a simple interface and doesn’t try to confuse things. It has support for online services and radios, playlists, album art and track ratings. You can also extend it’s features further with the use of 3rd party plugs that are easy to install. You can set it up to monitor a folder like ~/Music or any other folder and it will automatically populate your library when new music is added. It’s been going for over 10 years and is developed by the GNOME project. You can learn more about Rhythmbox here.
- VLC Media Player – There is a reason why VLC has remained many users number one media player application for so long. It’s just that good. It’s free and open-source and works across multiple platforms. It will play pretty much any media you chuck at it and it also supports DVD playback. You can also stream content over networks without too much hassle. VLC has subtitle support baked in as well as a whole host of other features that could have a list of their own! It has a simple and understandable interface that most users should instantly feel familiar with. Head over to their website to learn more.
CLI Applications and Tools
- tmux – My favorite terminal multiplexer is tmux. A terminal multiplexer is a command line tool which enables you to use multiple terminals within one window. With tmux you can create multiple ‘sessions’ where you can open multiple tools within one window. You can organize the windows in each session by splitting horizontally or vertically by making use of the keyboard shortcuts. One of my favorite features of tmux is the ability exit a session but leave it in the background. This is especially useful when you are using SSH and want to run some commands and exit the session then come back to it later. For those that have never used tmux before but like the sound of it I would recommend using a ‘cheat sheet’ to learn the keyboard shortcuts.
- Browsh – I’ve tried a few command line web browsers in my time and the one I’ve enjoyed the most is Browsh. It’s a more modern CLI web browser compared to the likes of w3m. It supports images and even videos to a certain extent. Though I wouldn’t recommend using to watch your favorite YouTuber’s latest videos ;). As you can see in the screenshot images and videos will appear very pixelated but I do appreciate them being there. There is one caveat to Browsh though that might make it less appealing as a CLI web browser, it relies on there being a version of Firefox installed on the host’s desktop. Click here to visit their website.
Let me know what some of your favorite Linux applications are in the comments below!