Although everyone knows that most Linux distributions (distros) can be downloaded for free, not everyone knows that you also have access to thousands of free apps via the package manager of your operating system.
Many of the more user-friendly distributions will come with a selection of pre-installed software to get you started, but there are many more apps in the wild that are constantly being developed.
In this guide we will highlight 10 of the best desktop applications for Linux. All these programs can be installed via the command line or by using a graphical frontend for your package manager, such as Synaptic, which we will discuss first.
Although some Linux distributions such as Ubuntu come with their own flashy app stores, none is as fast and easy to use as Synaptic, which simply serves as a graphical front end for the apt-get & # 39; command tool. You can install it on any Debian-based Linux distro such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint.
Browse categories of apps like & # 39; Games & Entertainment & # 39; using the panel on the left. Click the box next to the name of an app to mark it for installation (or uninstall it) and then click the Apply button at the top to make your changes. All programs that are covered in this article can be installed via Synaptic.
2. VLC Media Player
VLC is best known as a media player, although it does much more than this. After installation, it downloads codecs for almost all types of audio or video files, so you will probably never have problems with playback again. The software can also play DVDs.
You can use VLC to cut and even convert video files from one format to another – for example from AVI to MP4. See our guide about this. The media player client can also act as a server, allowing you to stream media from one device to another (handy, we also have a manual on how to do this).
3. Mozilla Firefox
Firefox is the default web browser for a number of Linux distros such as Ubuntu and Linux Mint. The simple and smooth interface of the browser is one of many attractions. Firefox plays the YouTube video immediately and can download plug-ins to play other formats for you. The browser also updates itself from the start, which means that you always have the latest version.
Firefox supports a number of enhancements to improve your web experience, and you can further customize the browser via the Mozilla add-on page, where it is possible to install a colorful theme.
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free image editor. It can be used to edit and retouch images by adjusting the size, adding layers and other special effects. You can access it via the handy toolbox or drop-down menu. Consult our manual on how to use GIMP here. The GIMP website itself also has a large selection of tutorials.
If you are used to Adobe Photoshop, it may take a while before you adapt to the GIMP interface, but it can do almost anything that professional image editors are capable of. You can even add certain Photoshop plugins to GIMP.
By default, the program consumes less than 100 MB, which is another significant benefit, especially for those with a shortage of disk space.
Although many Linux distributions have already been delivered with a BitTorrent client, Deluge stands out as a light yet complete app for downloading your files.
The interface is very easy to manage and can be improved by some excellent community-supported plug-ins that do things like shutting down your machine when a download is complete.
You can even configure Deluge to be accessible via a web interface from other devices so that you can download files to your home computer when you are away.
Thunderbird is a free and powerful e-mail client. The installation wizard guides you carefully when creating a new e-mail address or setting up your existing e-mail address. The Thunderbird database contains e-mail settings for all major providers and you can add as many e-mail accounts as you want.
Like Firefox, Thunderbird can be expanded with add-ons such as themes to make it more colorful, or better ways to sort your e-mail folders. The most useful of these is undoubtedly the Lightning extension that adds a fully functioning agenda to the e-mail client. We have an in-depth discussion of Thunderbird here.
LibreOffice is nothing less than a complete office suite, similar to commercial alternatives such as Microsoft Office. Although the interface looks pretty simple, this product has some very advanced features.
The LibreOffice word processor Writer, spreadsheet software Calc and presentation app Impress are pre-installed in Ubuntu and most of its derivatives. The suite also includes three lesser known apps – Draw, Math and Base – that are used for editing vector graphics, composing mathematical formulas and managing databases respectively.
Although LibreOffice uses the ODF (Open Document Format) by default, it can also open and save Microsoft Office-compatible files. Read our full review of LibreOffice here.
Pidgin is an instant messaging program that allows you to connect to multiple chat networks at the same time. At the time of writing, these include AIM, Bonjour, IRC and Google Talk to name just a few. Unfortunately, Facebook chat is no longer available because the social network broke support for the open XMPP message protocol.
Pidgin can be improved by installing third-party plug-ins. Some of them allow you to connect to other chat networks, such as Skype, while others can be used to protect your calls, for example the OTR (Off the Record) message service.
9. ClamAV / ClamTk
Although Linux machines can not be affected by viruses designed to infect Windows, your PC may inadvertently forward malicious files to other computers, for example in an e-mail attachment. And nowadays there are even incidents of malware aimed at Linux systems.
The antivirus scanner ClamAV offers some peace of mind, because it can detect many types of malware. It is often used on e-mail servers, but will happily run on your desktop if you want to scan files or folders.
By default, ClamAV can only be used from the command line, but you can use Synaptic to & # 39; clamtk & # 39; and & # 39; clamtk-nautilus & # 39; to install so that you can scan your system and individual files with a few clicks of your mouse.
Audacity is an editing program that allows you to record and tune audio. Audacity can not only simultaneously record audio from different inputs (for example, a USB microphone or an electric guitar), but it can also cut and edit clips. It also supports multiple tracks, allowing you to record song lyrics and background music separately.
The software also supports a number of audio effects, such as noise reduction, as described in the extremely comprehensive manual that is bundled with Audacity and available online. Audacity also supports VST plug-ins (Virtual Studio Technology). Tracks can be exported in a number of popular sound formats such as WAV, OGG and MP3. If you want to know more about Audacity, read our full review here.