Best Essential Apps for Linux of 2021

essential linux apps

You might be a beginner looking to explore Linux and you are at a loss of what Apps you should essentially be using.

In this guide, we have put together a list of the best essential applications that you should have in your Linux to have a wholesome experience.

Media Players

Linux has made available some media players to help you play your favorite music and videos. Let's look at some of the most popular.

VLC

VLC on Debian 11
VLC

The VLC media player is arguably the best free and open-source cross-platform media player there is out there. It plays almost any format of audio and video files which is a huge plus for the App and an advantage for the user as well.

To download it visit their official website or alternatively, be sure to find it on your software App center.

Clementine

clementine audio player interface

Clementine is an open-source, multi-platform, and free audio player. Its features include internet radio, smart playlist, discover and download podcasts.

To install you can directly download the executable version from the official website or from flathub.

Audacious

Audacious interface

Audacious is a powerful and open-source audio player that is resource-friendly and supports a wide array of audio formats. You can easily customize the look and feel by changing the skin or theme of the audio player. Its features include drag & drop song files, easy search, listen to music from the internet, graphical equalizer, modern GTK- theme interface, set alarms, and more.

Lollypop

Audio Editors

Linux got lots of options when comes to choose audio editors. Here I have listed the three best audio editors.

Audacity

Audacity is a cross-platform, free and open-source digital audio editor and recording application software. It can perform live audio recording, cut/copy/splice/mix sound files, high sound quality, plugins, and more. The best way to install Audacity in Linux is from the snap store.

LMMS

LMMS is a 100% free, open-source, community-driven music production software. Features include the creation of melodies and beats, the synthesis and mixing of sounds, FX mixer, and full MIDI support.

You can install it directly using apt, from the App Center or Software Center.

Image editors

For graphic design/image editing enthusiasts, worry not, you've not been left behind. Linux has some nifty applications that you can use for giving a fine touch to your images and designing various artwork. Let's briefly look at a few of them

GIMP

GIMP is a free and open-source software used for editing and retouching images, converting between multiple image formats, free-form drawing, and other specialized tasks. It's a cross-platform platform that's also used in Microsoft windows. A close equivalent to GIMP in Microsoft Windows in Adobe Photoshop.  If you are just getting started in image editing, GIMP is the software to go for.

Inkscape

Inkscape is a vector graphics design software used mainly to create and edit vector images, designs, charts, logos, posters,  and other complex illustrations. It's a close equivalent to Adobe Illustrator.

Email clients

Sending and receiving email is one of the most essential tasks that any desktop user needs to carry out. Let's have a look at some of the most popular and widely used email clients:

Thunderbird

Thunderbird is a free & open-source email client that usually comes pre-installed in most Linux graphical distributions. It was developed by Mozilla and comes in a neat and simple UI which many users find user-friendly. It ships with all the necessary features that you may need for managing your emails. If the application does not come already pre-installed, you can seamlessly download it from the official website and later install it.

Evolution

Evolution interface

Evolution is yet another free and open-source, simple, flexible yet powerful email client that allows Linux users to easily manage their emails. It is developed by the GNOME project and ships with most Linux distros running GNOME as their default desktop environment. Evolution makes it possible for users to connect to Microsoft Exchange servers, filter spam, and also comes with handy tools such as a calendar, note-taking, and an address book.

Geary

Geary in Ubuntu 20.04
Geary

Geary is an email client to read, find and send an email with a modern interface. Its features include: quick account setup, shows related messages together, fast keyword search, full-featured HTML and plain text message composer, compatible with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, and other IMAP servers.

If you want the latest version, install the Geary app from flathub.

Video editing applications

The Linux community has worked too hard to give users some of the best video editing applications. Let's have a look at some of the best video editing applications:

Openshot

Openshot
Openshot

Started in August 2008, Openshot is an award-winning cross-platform, open-source, and easy-to-use video editor that comes with powerful features which include animation effects, the ability to trim and slice videos, stunning video effects and transitions, amazing audio waveforms, and more.

KdenLive

KdenLive Best Apps for Linux

Started by Jason Wood in 2002, Kdenlive is yet another free and open-source editing software that is based on Qt, KDE, and MLT frameworks. It ships a ton of useful and nifty features which include split audio and video timeline, multi-track video editing, configurable interface and shortcuts, and a variety of stunning effects and video transitions.

Screenshot Applications

Screenshot and screencast records are handy tools that all users to capture screenshots and record video tutorials for educational purposes. Let's have a peek at some of the best.

Flameshot

flameshot taking screenshot

Flameshot is a powerful, easy-to-use, and open-source screenshot tool that allows you to seamlessly capture and annotate the screenshots with arrows, callouts, and boxes.

Additionally, it comes with its set of markup tools such as Lines, arrows, circles, Blur, boxes, pins, and freehand drawing. For more on how the tool is used, refer to its GitHub page.

Ksnip

ksnip

Ksnip is a Qt-based screenshot software tool that allows users to take screenshots with a myriad of annotation features. It's quite new in the Linux world and you can refer to GitHub to get more information.

Virtualization

Virtualization is a service that lets you create virtual instances of different Operating Systems on a host machine. A virtual machine, just like a physical machine/server is provisioned with resources such as RAM, CPU, and a hard disk among many others.

Oracle VM  VirtualBox

VirtualBox
VirtualBox

VirtualBox is open-source cross-platform virtualization software that allows running multiple guest operating systems. This is simple and easy to use with an intuitive & user-friendly UI. It's also a favorite among those who are curious about trying out different Operating systems without installing them on the host system.

Media Server software

For entertainment lovers, you have not been left behind. A couple of Media Software Theaters abound to let you catch your latest movies, Tv shows, and music videos from the comfort of your seat. Let's explore a few

Kodi

Kodi best Apps for Linux

Kodi is a free and open-source cross-platform media center that runs on Linux, Windows, macOS, and Android. It was developed by XBMC and comes in a sleek and polished UI design that inspires a memorable user experience. Users can catch the latest Tv shows, movies and even share photos with their family and friends.

Plex

Plex media best Apps for Linux

Plex is a free client-server media application that is free for Linux, Windows, Mac, and NAS devices. However, there is Plex Pass which is subscription-based and users start paying from $4.99 per month, $39.99 per year or a lifetime package of $149.99. Users have the ability to stream, to online content such as movies, photos, and TV shows.

Collaboration/messaging applications

If you are working together on a project together with a team, a collaboration tool is crucial for tracking progress and any messages and notifications sent. Let's check out some of the best applications.

Slack

Slack application

Slack is a free collaborative tool that is widely used by project management teams in collaboration of various projects. It's cross-platform and can be used on Windows, macOS, and Linux. It's free, however, you can upgrade to a premium version.

Franz

franz

Franz is a free messaging application that can be used for Messenger, WhatsApp, Slack,  telegram, and many other platforms. It makes your daily messaging tasks much simpler and hassle-free. It's available not only for Linux but Windows.

Code editors

Linux supports a myriad of code editors replete with enhanced features that make the lives of developers much easier. Here are some of the most popular code editors"

Brackets

Brackets

Developed by Adobe, Brackets is a free and powerful, and cross-platform code editor that focuses on the needs of web developers. It comes with built-in support for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

It offers handy features such as inline editing, live preview, built-in extension manager, code auto-completion.

Sublime Text

sublime text

Sublime Text has been around for a while now carving a niche for itself amongst developers. It's a cross-platform and proprietary code editor that supports a wide range of programming languages and markup languages as well.

It comes with a sleek and innovative interface and a myriad of powerful and useful features such as git support, code autocompletion, code snippets for quick text insertion, multiple columns, lines, and words.

Atom

Atom code editor best Apps in Linux

Atom is a stylish, sleek, and powerful code editor developed by Github and closely resembles Sublime Text.

Unlike Brackets, it is closed-source and ships with a spectrum of useful features such as embedded git control, smart autocompletion, split windows, built-in package manager with numerous plugins, and customizable UI.

Visual code studio

visual code studio

Visual code studio is a powerful and excellent code editor from Microsoft, especially for web developers. It may sound a bit strange that it comes from Microsoft knowing fully well Microsoft is a proprietary company. However, the code editor was made open source by Microsoft for Linux as an "Olive branch".

Its main features include Built-in support for Git, integrated terminal, built-in extension manager with a wide variety of plugins to choose from, numerous debugging tools, hints and auto-completion features, support for a wide range of programming languages.

Gaming applications

For gamers, a few applications come in handy to make your gaming experience even more enjoyable

Steam

steam Best Apps in Linux

Developed by Valve corporation, Steam is an easy-to-use online platform that lets you purchase & download your favorite videos games. Additionally, it provides automatic updates for downloaded games and has expanded to include video games from other third-party publishers. It also offers video streaming and social networking services.

Discord

discord productivity app

Initially designed for gamers, Discord is a freeware VoIP application that specializes in voice, video, and image communication between multiple users in a chat channel. It's a cross-platform application that runs on Windows, Linux, and macOS.

Office Tools

In Linux, there are multiple mature alternatives to Microsoft Office tools. These applications can be used free of charge to open, edit and create documents in a variety of file formats such as .docx, .xlsx, and .pptx, and more.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a free and open-source office suite that gives users the ability to create documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and other open document standards. It is a fork of OpenOffice.

LibreOffice is a mature alternative to the MS office. It comes preinstalled in most Linux distributions.

Onlyoffice

Onlyoffice is a free software office suite with online editors, documents, spreadsheets, presentations. It also provides cloud office solutions, project management tools, chat, highest compatibility with MS Office and mail.

You share documents easily with a simple click, collaborate on them online.

FreeOffice

Developed by Softmaker, FreeOffice is a good alternative to the Microsoft Office suite that ships with a word processor, a presentation, and a spreadsheet application. It's completely free for both personal and business use. FreeOffice supports Microsoft file formats DOCX, XLSX, and PPTX.

Backup Tools

Linux systems support a number of backup solutions. These tools help to copy important files to a safe place and restore them when required. Backup is important when you perform a system upgrade and the main package upgrade.

Here I will list two best performing backup tools.

Timeshift

Timeshift for Linux is an application that can protect your system by taking incremental snapshots of the filesystem at regular internal and later can be restored. It is designed to protect only system files and settings - doesn't back up your apps, documents, pictures, or music.

Timeshift is available in most package management repositories, can be installed using apt, dnf or pacman.

Bacula

Bacula is a free backup software natively designed to work for Linux distributions. It is a feature-rich backup solution such as support for database backups, full/incremental/differential, support for s3, capable of snapshots, support for tap, automate using script.

Password Manager

Password manager is used to storing and creating unique passwords. There are many password managers available for Linux, let's check two impressive desktop tools among them.

Bitwarden

Bitwarden is a free, cross-platform, and open-source password management service that stores sensitive data. It provides end-to-end encryption for cloud servers, browser extension, and command-line tools.

KeePassXC

KeePassXC is a free, cross-platform, and open-source password manager. It is a community fork of KeePassX, built using Qt5 libraries. Its features include database encryption using 256-bit AES, import passwords from other tools, 2-factor auth, command-line options, ability to search credentials, and more.

KeePassXC is not cloud-based and has to keep the passwords in the local system. Some users do prefer to not save their secrets in the cloud.

Messenger App

There are a number of messaging apps for Linux. Let me list the best two of them.

Telegram

Telegram messenger is a free, featured, and increasingly popular instant messaging app. Telegram desktop clients are available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

It is a very popular alternative to WhatsApp and very impressive look o Linux Desktop.

Signal

Signal is a cross-platform centralized encrypted instant messaging application. It focuses much on privacy. You can install signal app client on Linux Desktop using official repositories.

Signal features include screen security, locked messages, safety number, and more.

Ebook Reader

There is now a great demand for digital ebooks. In Linux, there are many ebook readers available to read and organize pdf, epubs, and different ebook formats.

Foliate

Foliate is a simple and modern GTK eBook reader. It supports different formats such as EPUB, kindle, fictionbook, comic book, and plain text. Other features Foliate includes are different column layouts, adjust fonts, customize color, and brightness, bookmarks, find in book, basic text to speech, and more.

You can download and install it from flathub or snap store or install using the package manager.

Calibre

Calibre is a powerful and easy-to-use ebook manager for Linux. It is completely free and open-source. Calibre supports displaying, editing, creating, and converting e-books. It can also sync e-books with other e-readers. 

USB Image Writer

USB image writer as used to write Operating system images to USB drives. Here I list the two best image writer tools for Linux.

Etcher

Etcher is a free, open-source utility used to create bootable storage media ( USB and SD cards) from .img and .iso files. The main interface is simple and a good choice even for those who are not particularly tech-savvy.

Ventoy

Ventoy is an open-source tool to create a bootable USB drive. Compared to other tools, ventoy is feature-rich such as multi-boot support, support larger file size, support various operating systems, can be installed in USB/local disk/SSD, directly boot from ISO file, and more.

Conclusion

Those are the best essentials apps to give the best experience on Linux. Though, the selection of an application totally depends on your preference.

Which Linux apps do you use? Let me know in the comments below.

7 Comments... add one

  1. Had to add a shoutout for Shutter for screen capture.

    And, as much as it pains me to admit, Microsoft Teams for collaboration (not that Microsoft makes it easy to use but IsmaelMartinez had done a wonderful job of making teams work with linux https://github.com/IsmaelMartinez/teams-for-linux). Using Teams is a necessary evil since it's our only collaboration tool at work; Ismael Martinez is my personal hero for making it usable by Linux users.

    Reply
  2. Hi, for password management, i would prefer Bitwarden.
    Very reliable, apps for almost every browser/smartphone.
    Also stand alone app for linux. you can use it on your own server and it is free for personal use, what eslse :)
    cheers

    Reply
  3. Hi. Thank You for the list.

    I would have added:
    - KeePassXC as password manger (Can also be used to save and encrypt notes and files).
    - Riot, Telegram, Session, Jami, QTox for collaboration/messaging.

    They are all FOSS based on opensource protocols (except Telegram which use its own closesource protocol). They all use widely tested cryptographic tools (except Telegram).

    Reply
  4. For me no matter what device or software you use, productivity is the key to be successful.
    I would like to add few tools that are also super usefool
    Zoom for meeting, CloudDesk to monitor employees and Evernote to keep notes

    Reply

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