Best 10 Linux Apps of 2018

There's a (Linux) app for that

Hands typing on a computer

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If you’re new to Linux, you might be wondering, “What apps are the best to use?” Here is our list of the best of the best Linux desktop apps that should cover nearly every aspect of your computing needs.

01
of 10

LibreOffice: The Best Linux Office Suite

LibreOffice
LibreOffice in action.

LibreOffice is 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 can be installed on any number of machines (at no extra cost). The user interface can be changed from the standard menu-driven to an Microsoft ribbon-like user interface.

What We Like

  • LibreOffice is 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.

This app is available free at Libreoffice.org.

02
of 10

The GIMP: The Best Image Editor

The GIMP
The GIMP in action.

The GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program and 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. The GIMP allows you to save in many format types (.jpg, .png, .tiff, .gif, .svg, etc.) and (in certain file formats) preserves layers.

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

What We Like

  • Powerful filters (which can be easily expanded).
  • Single window layout.

  • Third-party 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 Photoshop-native files.

This is available free from gimp.org.

03
of 10

Firefox: The Best Web Browser

Firefox
The Firefox web browser.

The Firefox web browser has come a long way from where it was just a few short years ago. The open source web browser is 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 the browser to a Firefox Account, and sync your passwords, open tabs, and more with any instance of Firefox associated with that account. There’s a reason why so many Linux distributions default to the 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).

  • Extension feature allows 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

  • That more people aren’t using Firefox.

This is available free from mozilla.org.

04
of 10

Audacity: The Best Audio Recorder

Audacity
Audacity with a multi-track recording.

If you’re looking to record audio (for say, podcasts), look no further than the free, open source Audacity. This is the audio recorder of choice for millions of users, regardless of platform.

Audacity makes recording anything from a single track microphone to a multi-track band incredibly easy. 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, Audacity supports an incredible number of file formats.

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.

Audacity is available free from audacityteam.org.

05
of 10

Evolution: The Best Groupware Tool

Evolution
The Evolution groupware suite.

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

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

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.

Evolution can be installed from the standard repositories on most Linux desktop distributions.

06
of 10

Clementine: The Best Audio Player

Clementine
The Clementine music player.

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

Clementine also includes an outstanding equalizer, the ability to listen to podcasts, audio CD support, native Linux desktop notifications, and so much more.

What We Like

  • Next to no 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.

This is available free (for Linux, Windows, and macOS) from clementine-player.org.

07
of 10

VLC Media Player: The Best Video Player

VLC
VLC media player in action.

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

One of the best things about VLC is that, during installation, it will install 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. VLC can even convert files and act as a media server.

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

There’s really nothing to dislike about this video player.

VLC is available free from videolan.org.

08
of 10

UPM: Best Password Manager

UPM
UPM Password Manager.

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 amount of bells and whistles.

If you’re looking for something simple and solid, however, you can’t beat the Universal Password Manager (UPM). 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.

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.

This is available free (for Linux, Windows, Android, and macOS) from upm.sourceforge.net.

09
of 10

VirtualBox: Best Virtual Machine Manager

VirtualBox
The VirtualBox virtual machine manager.

If you have a need to run virtual machines on Linux, you won’t find an easier way 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 is no better way to test other operating systems on Linux. Once you have your virtual machine up and running, you can pause it, stop it, clone it, and many other tasks.

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

There’s not much to dislike about this free virtual machine tool.

This is available for free (for Linux, Windows, and macOS) from virtualbox.org.

10
of 10

Calibre: Best Ebook Manager

Calibre
The Calibre ebook manager.

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 will also enjoy the ease at which ebooks can be managed and/or generated with this simple tool.

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.

This app is available free (for Linux, Windows, and macOS) from calibre-ebook.com.