Must-Have Software for Linux

Linux Programs

While this list is nowhere near completely inclusive of all software, it is a list of my favorite software for Linux. I broke it down into categories and I plan on expanding on each category in the next couple days. Check back for more posts.

Office Productivity

Open Office

Open Office

Open Office is the free, open source cousin to Microsoft Office. Where Microsoft wants to charge for licensing and fees for it’s office suite, Open Office is literally giving theirs away. It is a phenomenal program without pretension, giving users the ability to create spreadsheets, documents, and other presentations. Open Office also reads and edits MS Office documents so you don’t have to worry about your coworker’s work not being compatible with your software. If anything, it is one of the most useful programs for even novice Linux users. Open Office brings familiarity of Microsoft-ish products to the Linux environment.

Open Office Features:

  • Writer– a word processor that can be used for anything.
  • Calc – a useful spreadsheet that allows you to calculate and present data.
  • Impress – a fast and powerful way to create multimedia presentations.
  • Draw – allows you to create diagrams, 3D illustrations, and everything in between.
  • Base – allows users to manipulate databases, modify tables, forms, queries, and reports.
  • Math– creates mathematical equations using a graphic interface.

Other Alternatives:

Graphic Design



If you’re looking for a desktop publishing program look no further than Scribus. For making signs, fliers, brochures, newsletters, it’s the way to go. Scribus is a desktop publishing app that gives you complete control over the layout of elements on the page. It works with CMYK color profiles and has PDF output, so the results are perfect for sending stuff off to the printer. Unfortunately you can’t import .pub files because Microsoft hasn’t released the details about the format. Scribus does run on all major platforms, however.

Other Alternatives:
Pagestream ($99)
Artstream ($295)



Gimp is a free image program for Linux systems. GNU Image Manipulation Program (Gimp) is the premier Image editing and painting software available for Linux under the GPL open source licence.

Gimp is not aimed at the beginner, it is a professional quality package aimed at the more experienced user. The help index is not always complete, so don’t expect the help files to always be of much help or any help at all. If you are used to using professional quality image software (like Photoshop for instance) you will no doubt understand what most of the features do and how to use them, but otherwise you’re gonna be stuck looking to forums and GIMP support & tutorial sites for help with it.

Other Alternatives:
Krita (Very much underrated…probably better than GIMP, but less popular. Supports CMYK and is part of the KOffice project)
GimpShop (Feels more like Photoshop. designed to help transition users from Photoshop to GIMP)

Music & Video



Named after the Amarok album by Mike Oldfield, AmaroK is becoming everyone’s new iTunes. (Fortunately for Amarok there’s no Linux version of iTunes…and nobody’s gonna use Wine every time they want to play their music.) AmaroK is more than just a music player: it organizes a library of music into folders by artist, genre, and album; it can edit tags attached to most music formats; associate album art and attach lyrics.

  • AmaroK plays media files in MP3, FLAC, Ogg, WAV, AAC, WMA, and Musepack not to mention nearly 100 more.
  • AmaroK syncs, plays, retrieves, or uploads music to Ipods and other digital music players.
  • AmaroK displays artist information via Wikipedia
  • AmaroK plays Podcasts

Amarok also has a host of other features, including Moodbar functionality and Musicbrainz support.

Other Alternatives:
XMMS (X Multimedia System)

VLC Player


VideoLAN Client (VLC) is a media player, streamer, and encoder for Unix, Windows, Mac OS X, BeOS, QNX, and PocketPC. It can play most audio and video codecs (MPEG 1/2/4, DivX, WMV, Vorbis, AC3, AAC, etc.), has support for VCD, SVCD, and DVD (with menus), and can read or dump streams from a network source (HTTP, UDP, DVB, MMS, etc.). It can also act as a server and send streams through the network, with optional support for audio and video transcoding. It’s hands down one of the best media players on any platform…making it a must have in your linux arsenal.

Other Alternatives:
MPlayer – Another awesome media player for Linux. Might as well get them both.
KPlayer – A great KDE media player.




Firefox is the best browser out there, hands down. There are several others that are great on each platform such as Opera, Safari, etc…but when I debug this site I make sure that it looks as-intended on Firefox and that’s it. If you’re running IE and it looks jacked up – get Firefox…



Konqueror is an appropriate name for the program that does it all.

Konqueror is the file manager for the K Desktop Environment. It supports basic file management on local UNIX filesystems, from simple cut/copy and paste operations to advanced remote and local network file browsing. Konqueror is also an Open Source web browser with HTML 4.01 compliance, supporting Java applets, JavaScript, CSS 1, CSS 2.1, as well as Netscape plugins (for example, Flash or RealVideo plugins). Last but not least, Konqueror is a universal viewing application, capable of embedding read-only viewing components in itself to view documents without ever launching another application. You’ll really want it to cut down on a lot of frustration when using Linux…there’s nothing it can’t view/open/use.

Other Alternatives:
Opera – The same great browser for other platforms, available on Linux
Netscape Navigator – If you still use it, it’s available…

Other Software



With Desktop Cube, Animations, Water, Blur, Trailfocus, and Fading windows, Beryl makes for a dynamic desktop experience. Beryl is a combined window manager and composite manager that uses OpenGL for acceleration. It is highly flexible, extensible, and portable.

Beryl uses flat file backend with almost no gnome dependency. It has a custom theme decorator (Emerald) with features added on a daily basis. Best of all, it’s maintained by a community.

Desktop Effects Features:
Scale Effect
* OS X Expose Like Effect
* Live Window Previews
* Drag and Drop Support
Desktop Cube
* See Only What You Want
* Visualize Your Workspace
Window Animations
Transparency, Brightness, and Saturation
Gnome Terminal True Transparency



Wine is an implementation of the Windows Win32 and Win16 APIs on top of X and Unix. Think of Wine as a Windows compatibility layer. Wine provides both a development toolkit (Winelib) for porting Windows sources to Unix and a program loader, allowing many unmodified Windows 3.x/95/98/ME/NT/W2K/XP binaries to run under Intel Unixes. Wine does not require Microsoft Windows, as it is a completely alternative implementation consisting of 100% Microsoft-free code, but it can optionally use native system DLLs if they are available. Wine comes with complete sources, documentation and examples and is freely redistributable.

Basically what it does allows you to run Windows executable files inside of Linux.


That about sums up my list of must-have general software. I’m going to break it down further into each category later on so be sure to check back for more detailed categories of must-have software for your Linux OS.

Some links for top rated Linux software.
Best Linux Software for Webmasters & Designers

2 Comment(s)

  1. I was seriously thinking about putting Ubuntu on the new PC is just built, however I went with XP x64 instead. If I do decide to dual boot in the future, this will be a great reference point for software!

    Anyway, your site is pretty sweet and I love the layout. I’d like to add you to my blogroll if possible, let me know!

    Blue Sunshine | Mar 25, 2008 | Reply

  2. F*ck konqueror. I hate it. Nuff said. Firefox FTW!!

    sikanrong | Mar 25, 2008 | Reply

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