Best 10 Linux Apps of 2021

Extend the value of your Linux desktop with the best open-source applications

Make the most of your new Linux desktop by installing the best, most tested applications. We've developed a list of the best free and open-source programs for the Linux ecosystem.

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LibreOffice: The Best Linux Office Suite

LibreOffice office suite
What We Like
  • Free and available for multiple platforms.

  • Can work with MS Office formats.

  • Customizable interface.

  • Stable and reliable.

  • Can save to cloud and remote locations.

  • Includes editing features (such as track changes and comments).

What We Don't Like
  • Large documents (200+ pages) can become unresponsible or slow to use.

LibreOffice is a full-featured, open-source, drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office. It’s free, includes all of the tools you’d expect to find in an office suite (word processor, spreadsheets, presentations, formulas, database), and works on any number of machines at no extra cost.

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GIMP: The Best Image Editor

GIMP image editor
What We Like
  • Powerful filters (which can be easily expanded).

  • Single window layout.

  • Plugin support.

  • Easy photo retouching.

  • Drawing tablet support.

  • Script support.

  • Easy to install new brushes.

What We Don't Like
  • Steeper learning curve than some similar programs.

  • Sometimes has problems with layers in real Photoshop files.

The GNU Image Manipulation Program is the open-source equivalent to Photoshop. It’s powerful, it’s free, and it includes a vast array of tools to help create or edit your images to perfection.

Although the GIMP interface does take some time to get used to, especially if you’re migrating from Photoshop, once you understand the layout and the tools, the possibilities are limitless. GIMP allows you to save in many format types—.jpg, .png, .tiff, .gif, .svg, etc.—and, in certain file formats, preserves layers.

GIMP is a great tool for graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, and even scientists.

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Firefox: The Best Web Browser

Firefox web browser
What We Like
  • It’s light, fast, and stable.

  • No more bloat.

  • Included 2-Factor Authentication with the Firefox Account login.

  • Supported by nearly every website on the planet.

  • Available on nearly every platform (Linux, macOS, Windows, Android).

  • Extensions allow users to add new features.

  • The Test Pilot program gives users a sneak peek into possible future features.

  • Built-in tracking protection.

  • Includes private browsing mechanism.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't integrate into primary ecosystems (Microsoft, Google).

The open-source Firefox web browser has come a long way from where it was just a few short years ago. It's no longer burdened with bloatware, renders pages as quickly as any browser on the market, offers plenty of security features, and is light and fast.

For the Linux platform, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better web browser. Even better, you can now connect it to a Firefox Account and sync your passwords, open tabs, and related information with any instance of Firefox associated with that account.

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Audacity: The Best Audio Recorder

Audacity audio recorder
What We Like
  • Incredibly easy to use.

  • Powerful, built-in filters and special effects.

  • Cross platform (for Linux, macOS, and Windows).

  • Exports to industry standard formats.

  • Can record audio from multiple sources.

  • User-friendly navigation through tracks.

What We Don't Like
  • Audacity doesn’t function well when another application is using either the mic or the computer speakers.

  • Could use a more modern interface.

Look no further than the free, open-source Audacity for all your recording needs. This program is the audio recorder of choice for millions of users, regardless of platform.

Audacity simplifies recording anything from a single-track microphone to a multi-track band. Audacity even makes editing said recordings incredibly easy. And with a large amount of included filters, the sky’s the limit on what you can do.

Best of all, there is next to no learning curve with Audacity. In fact, you won’t find a better ratio of ease-of-use to powerful features in any other recording/editing software on the market. And if you need to import audio files, it supports an incredible number of file formats.

Before you download and use Audacity, be sure to review its privacy policy to ensure you’re comfortable with its terms.

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Evolution: The Best Groupware Tool

Evolution groupware suite
What We Like
  • Keep track of all your business groupware needs from one app.

  • Seamless integration with Google Mail and Calendar.

  • Easy setup.

  • Works with multiple accounts.

  • Integrates with the GNOME desktop.

  • Works with GPG for encryption.

  • Built-in, powerful email filtering tools.

  • Automatic spam filtering.

  • Address book can be used as data source in LibreOffice.

What We Don't Like
  • Interface is a bit outdated.

  • Isn’t supported by all MS Exchange servers.

Do you use Microsoft Outlook in either Windows or macOS? You won’t find a desktop application version of Outlook for Linux. What you can find, however, is the open-source equivalent in Evolution.

Evolution is a single tool that includes email, calendar, to-dos, tasks, contacts, and memos. It connects to IMAP, POP3, Google, and even MS Exchange email servers, so you can manage your mail and calendars, no matter who your provider is.

Evolution installs from the standard repositories on most Linux desktop distributions.

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Clementine: The Best Audio Player

Clementine audio player
What We Like
  • Tiny learning curve.

  • Supports numerous file formats.

  • Easy playlist management.

  • Built-in internet radio support.

  • Connect and sync devices.

  • Outstanding music queue manager.

What We Don't Like
  • Although user-friendly, the interface is somewhat outdated.

The best audio player choice can be a bit tricky, but if you’re looking for the best blend of user-friendliness and a large feature list, the open-source (and free) Clementine app cannot be beaten, especially if your music library is large.

One of the best aspects of Clementine is how simple it makes working with playlists. You can create both static and dynamic playlists, create playlists from entire albums or folders, organize playlists, and more.

It also includes an outstanding equalizer, the ability to listen to podcasts, audio CD support, and built-in Linux desktop notifications.

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VLC Media Player: The Best Video Player

VLC media player
What We Like
  • Very easy to use.

  • Handles numerous media formats.

  • Can play music as well.

  • Can play DVDs with ease.

  • Integrates with webcams.

What We Don't Like
  • Glitchy handling of corrupted video files.

Just as Clementine is the best audio player, no other tool has yet to dethrone VLC as the best video player. Without question, It's the single best tool for playing nearly any type of video format.

One of the best things about VLC is that, during installation, it installs all the necessary multimedia codecs, so you don’t run into a situation where a popular media format won’t play. This isn’t the case for many other video players for Linux. It can even convert files and act as a media server.

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UPM: Best Password Manager

UPM password manager
What We Like
  • Built-in password generator.

  • Lightweight.

  • Copy passwords, user IDs, URLs to clipboard.

  • Directly open URLs.

  • Keep notes of your accounts.

  • Password protected database.

  • Import and export database function.

What We Don't Like
  • Interface is out of date.

  • Network syncing is challenging.

  • No built-in cloud support.

If you’ve finally realized your passwords aren’t strong enough and you need to start working with more complicated strings of text, a password manager is in your future. There are a lot of password managers available and plenty offer a large number of bells and whistles.

If you’re looking for something simple and solid, however, you can’t beat the Universal Password Manager. UPM uses AES for database encryption and can sync across a network using HTTP/S. The interface is a bit old school, but it won’t get in your way of managing your various accounts.

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VirtualBox: Best Virtual Machine Manager

VirtualBox virtual machine manager
What We Like
  • Easy to use.

  • Built-in snapshot tool.

  • Ability to integrate with host operating system.

  • Create isolated networks for testing purposes.

  • USB and audio support.

What We Don't Like
  • Additional programs necessary to fully maximize some VMs.

You won’t find an easier way to run virtual machines on Linux than with VirtualBox. Run Linux, macOS, Windows, and other platforms all from your host operating system. VirtualBox allows you to run guest operating systems either with the user-friendly GUI or “headless” (from the command line).

There's no better way to test other operating systems on Linux. After you have your virtual machine up and running, you can pause it, stop it, clone it, and modify it to meet your changing needs.

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Calibre: Best Ebook Manager

Calibre ebook manager
What We Like
  • Built-in ebook editor.

  • Supports numerous file formats.

  • Built-in content server, so you can share your library across a LAN.

  • Can convert to multiple ebook formats from multiple source formats.

  • Frequent updates.

What We Don't Like
  • Ebook editor has a steep learning curve.

If you’re either a reader or a writer, you owe it to yourself to start using Calibre. Not only can this free, open-source tool allow you to import your favorite ebooks for easy reading, it can also convert your files into ebooks.

Authors looking to publish on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc. will find Calibre an absolute necessity. Readers enjoy the ease at which ebooks can be managed or generated with this simple tool.

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