Finding the right Ubuntu software titles used to be a bit of an art form, especially before the Ubuntu Software Center became available. And even with the benefit of the Ubuntu Software Center, knowing whether an application is worth checking out still requires a bit of research.
In this article, I'll share my preferred applications, plus my own methods for discovering new software.
Surprisingly, my Ubuntu software needs haven't changed a lot over the years. The titles I rely on serve me well, and I wouldn't change them for anything. Here they are in no particular order:
Reditr – Since my time is valuable, I try to avoid spending too much time on websites like Reddit. At the same time, I prefer to catch up on the pulse of the Ubuntu space using sources like Reddit. This is where Reditr comes to my rescue. Using this software not only makes it easier to stay focused on key subreddits with less distraction, it also presents the content in a really attractive way.
Synapse – Anytime I install Ubuntu onto a computer, the very first thing I make sure is included is Synapse. Despite the effort put forth with the Ubuntu Unity Dash, I find it to be more of a distraction than anything I care to use regularly. With Synapse, on the other hand, I can quickly see what docs/software I use the most and can locate anything immediately. It's the single best keyboard launcher available for Linux enthusiasts today.
Thunderbird – Out of the box, Thunderbird isn't that impressive; it's merely an email client. But once you bundle in various extensions to Thunderbird, it's instantly transformed into a powerhouse. The powerful extensions that provide two-way syncing to contacts and calendar processes have made relying on Thunderbird second nature.
Vokoscreen – Recently I found myself dropping Kazam in favor of Vokoscreen. Both screen-recording applications are fantastic tools, but I've found that Vokoscreen is both stable and more robust. The two killer features that sold me on using Vokoscreen for my tutorial creation needs were the webcam support and magnification support.
Nitro – Having tried countless task management tools in the past, I find myself loving Nitro over everything else due to its ability to cloud sync with Dropbox or Ubuntu One. Nitro offers its users a focused view of which tasks need attention immediately, in addition to being able to create lists of multiple tasks. Best of all, you can even sync it to the Nitro Android app for portable convenience.
Dropbox – There are few cloud applications I love more than Dropbox. While there are some compelling alternatives in active development right now, I've been pretty happy with Dropbox so far. Not only does Dropbox make file sharing between computers easy, I can also share select files with others outside of my office should I wish to.
Splashtop Streamer – One of the benefits of using Ubuntu over other distributions is that you will often find that new Linux software becomes available for Ubuntu first. Splashtop Streamer is just one such example of this. Without question, it's the fastest remote access software I've ever used on the Ubuntu desktop. Plus, you can use your Android phone or tablet to remote into your Ubuntu desktop as if you were sitting right there at your desk.
Pavucontrol – The controls to manage audio under Ubuntu lack proper application-specific functionality. For example, if I'm having a Skype call, I most likely won't be able to get my USB headset mic working using the volume manager provided by Ubuntu. Even if I set the headset as the default input device, Skype may not choose it directly. With pavucontrol, I can set up Skype so that it uses my USB headset mic by default, regardless of what the default input setting happens to be. When using Pulseaudio, a tool like pavucontrol is badly needed.