Best Essential Apps for Linux (2020)

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. So what are the best essential Apps for Linux? In this guide, we have put together a list of what we would consider as the most necessary applications that you should have in your Linux system to have a wholesome experience.

1)  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:

a) Thunderbird

Best essential Linux Apps Thunderbird email client

Thunderbird is a free & opensource email client that usually comes 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 from the official website and later install it.

b) Evolution

evolution email client

Evolution is yet another free and opensource, 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 a feature and an address book.

2)  Media Players

Some entertainment is good for the soul. And 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.

a) VLC

vlc media player best Apps for Linux

The VLC media player is arguably the best free and opensource 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.

b) Audacious

Audacious logo

Audacious is a powerful and opensource audio player that is resource-friendly and supports a wide array of audio formats. Additionally, you can easily customize the look and feel by changing the skin or theme of the audio player.

3)  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 image editor

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.

b) Inkscape

Inkscape app

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.

4)  Screenshot/Screencast recorders

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.

a) Kazam

kazam Best Apps for Linux

Kazam is a simple and nifty tool that lets you not only record your screen but also capture screenshots. Other essential features include the ability to capture a window, part or the whole screen as well as enabling voice recording during the video recording. For more information check out their GitHub page

b) 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.


c) Flameshot


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

flameshot taking screenshot

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.

d) OBS (Open broadcaster software)

OBS Best Apps for Linux

OBS is a cross-platform, free and opensource software used for screen recording and live streaming. it ships with advanced features such as realtime video and audio capture and mixing, creating scenes from multiple sources such as screenshots, webcams and many more. OBs also comes with an intuitive audio mixer with noise suppression feature.

5)  Video editing applications

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

a) Openshot

Openshot best Apps for Linux

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 effect, ability to trim and slice videos, stunning video effects and transitions, amazing audio waveforms and many more.

b) 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 framework. 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.

6)  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.

a) Oracle VM  VirtualBox

Oracle VirtualBox

VirtualBox is arguably the most popular virtualization platform on the planet, especially among tech enthusiasts. This 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 on the host system.

7)  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

a)  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.

b) 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.

8)  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.

a)  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.

b) 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.

9)  Code/Text 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"

a) Brackets


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

  1. Inline editing
  2. Live preview
  3. Built-in extension manager
  4. Code auto-completion

b) 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:

  1. Git support
  2. Code autocompletion
  3. code snippets for quick text insertion
  4. Multiple columns, lines, and words

c) 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 :

  1. Embedded Git control
  2. smart autocompletion
  3. Split Windows
  4. Built-in package manager with numerous plugins
  5. Customizable UI

d) 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 opensource by Microsoft for Linux as an "Olive branch". It's main features include:

  1. Built-in support for Git
  2. Integrated terminal
  3. Built-in extension manager with a wide variety of plugins to choose from
  4. Numerous debugging tools
  5. Hints and auto-completion features
  6. Support for a wide range of programming languages

10)  Gaming applications

For gamers, a few applications come in handy to ake your gamin experience even more enjoyable

a) 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.

b) 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.

11) Productivity Tools

Productivity tools make your work easier by organizing your schedule, notes, calendar, and your passwords as well as enhancing your ideas and decision-making skills. Here are some of the most favorite productivity apps.

a) Focus writer


Focus writer is a top-notch writing tool with support for over 20 languages. It is a must-have tool for Linux users. The word processor is the best alternative to Microsoft word. It features an intuitive and easy-to-use interface which immerses you in your work. It’s best especially for avoiding distractions and comes with a full-screen.

The word processor also contains themes, live statistics, and document tab where users can add, modify and delete their documents. With the spell checker function, you can check for spelling errors in your text to produce flawless content. It is a top text editor and also features a hide-away interface for best versatility.

b) SimpleNote

SimpleNote is a one-in-hands tool for organizing your notes. It comes with multiple features and tools for organizing your thoughts, ideas and notes in one place. Access your notes from any device with the sync option. It is a one-in-hands tool for searching, organizing and accessing your notes anywhere.

The same company which created WordPress developed SimpleNote. It is free and open-source, which means any developer can add additional features to the version. It supports markdown editing and web publication, which makes it a useful tool for those trying to maintain their web presence.

c) CatFish


Catfish is a free and open-source graphical application that lets you find your files quickly on your Linux PC. With Catfish, you can search for files (including hidden files) by using particular queries or file types. The results will display in a sortable manner enabling you to locate and sort your data quickly.

The advantage of Catfish is that it utilizes the system’s search engine. It does not install third-party indexing processors in your computer. The tool uses a GUI interface when searching and allows you to choose the search criteria to use. The speedier engine is fast and reliable, especially when you require swift searches.

d) LastPass

Last Pass password Manager

Lastpass is an online form filler and password manager for Linux. The password management tool allows you to save your passwords and log into any internet site securely. It is available as a plugin for Chrome and Firefox in Linux. With the tool, you don’t have to enter a password to sites every time you enter.

It is useful for form-filling in websites and managing multiple user accounts in your Linux computer. It is highly secure and trusted by Linux users worldwide. LastPass also contains a public API that enterprises can use for creating, managing and removing users. The tool is free and allows syncing with multiple devices.

Bitwarden is another popular open-source password manager.

1Password is a user-friendly password manager and is now on the way to have on Linux.

e) TMetric - Time tracking application


Headquartered in Czech, Prague, Tmetric is a free and cross-platform time-tracking application tailored for freelancers, business professionals, developers, and small businesses to mention a few. It conveniently tracks time with precision as creates intuitive reports on how you spent your time. Using this information, you can make informed decisions on how to reduce time wastage and boost productivity. It has a simple and user-friendly graphical interface and can be integrated with a wide spectrum of applications such as Asana, GitLab, Bitrix, Office 365, ZenDesk, Zoho and Trello to mention a few.

12) Browsers

Google chrome is a cross-platform web browser which considered as the best among other browsers. Where chromium is the open-source version of chrome which had fewer features.

You can browse the internet from Linux command line using text-based browsers such as w3m, Lynx, Links2, and Elinks.

Brave is a free and open-source web browser, which is heard more about its privacy features.

13) Office Tools

LibreOffice is a free and opensource office suite that gives user the ability to create Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets, work with databases among many other functions.

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

Developed by Softmaker, FreeOffice is a good alternative to Microsoft Office suite that ships with a Word processor, a presentation and a spreadsheet application

14) Tools

YouTube-DL is a command-line tool written in Python to help users download videos from YouTube.

Tilix is a tiling terminal emulator for Linux based in GTK+ 3

Neofetch is a cross-platform, simple shell script that scans for your system’s information and displays it in a terminal, together with an ASCII image or any desired image next to the output.

Ripgrep is a line-oriented search tool that combines the usefulness of the silver searcher and fast alternative to grep.

Bandwhich is a CLI utility for displaying current network utilization, sniffs a given network interface, and records IP packet size.

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

Wrapping up

Those are some of the best Linux apps that you can use for your Linux system to make your Linux experience much more spicy and enjoyable. of course there are many others out there. Feel free to add to this list. Your feedback will be most welcome.

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 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.

  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 :)

  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).

  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


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