15 Must-Have Linux Desktop Apps

Linux downloads for work and play, from document sharing to music-video to communications.
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Recently it was brought to my attention that all the desktop Linux hoopla in the world doesn't mean squat without compelling applications to get the end user interested. To address this need, I’ve rounded up fifteen powerful Linux applications that reflect the best that Linux has to offer the desktop user, both in and out of the enterprise environment.

This is not meant to diminish any excluded apps. Instead my goal is to showcase applications that I’ve found to be really powerful for the typical Linux user.

1. Kontact – Even though I'm partial to the GNOME desktop and many of the applications found within it, there is something amazing about certain KDE applications. One of the best is actually a bundle of applications known as Kontact. Out of all of the components provided, the three most used pieces included with the suite are Kmail, KaddressBook and Korganizer. Each of these components provide users with a visually appealing way to tackle their daily duties with email, schedules and so forth. Other tools to note within the suite include KNotes and Akregator, both of which are very capable and powerful programs within their own right.

2. Amarok – If function and "cool visuals" are a must with your music experience, then Amarok is for you. With smart playlists, lyric retrieval and podcast subscription support this software knows no bounds. The addition of user created scripts provides for functionality not found in other jukebox applications, which puts Amarok into a league all its own.

Oh and perhaps my all-time favorite feature, bookmarking your music tracks; as in being able to come back to where you left off.

3. Clonzilla – Having used a lot of partition/drive cloning software over the years, I have yet to find myself with a data loss due to a bad data recovery attempt using Clonezilla. If your data means anything to you then Clonezilla is a must-have bootable CD for your IT toolbox. Clonezilla allows you to copy either the entire target drive or simply choice partitions. Recovery of each backup works the same way, but in reverse.

4. OpenShot – I have used many Linux compatible video editors in the past and have had mixed success with each. Sadly, most developers felt quite disinterested when it came to addressing the issues in the specific applications and ensuring a decent user experience. Oddly, once OpenShot became popular, I noticed those "other apps" magically making more of an effort to keep up.

In the end though, I found that the OpenShot development was more in tune to what people actually wanted from a video editor. So it was less about the features and more about actually being heard. All that said, OpenShot is not lacking for any amazing functionality. With 3D titles, key frame animation, digital zooming and rotoscoping, the feature list is fairly extensive.

5. Audacity – Most audio editing tools for the Linux platform are powerful and capable, so there's no point in claiming otherwise as it would be untrue. Yet at the same time, many of them are entirely too complex to use. They lend themselves to audiophiles rather than typical human beings. This brings me front and center to an application called Audacity.

Designed to be simple to use without leaving out needed functionality, Audacity is easily one of the most compelling audio editing tools I've ever had the pleasure of using. For those looking to gain instant control over waveform edits, Audacity provides you with easy clipping, great filters and the option to export the finished product into the audio container of your choosing including MP3.

6. WinFF – With all of the great ways of generating video content on the Linux desktop, it can be frustrating when services like YouTube aren't supporting the OGV file container for video uploads. The real comedy ensues when open source friendly Google has better support for patented video container options versus the truly open source ones.

Thankfully a tool called WinFF has been flawless in ensuring I can convert my media into something more commonly accessible. Not only is WinFF very fast and simple to use, but I can convert both video and audio with it. Powered by the wonders of FFmpeg, the software installs and converts media right out of the box.

7. Sweet Home 3D – While this application isn't likely to end up in the software toolbox of most Linux enthusiasts, it's considered to be incredible nonetheless. Enter Sweet Home 3D. This app helps you create a simulation of your existing home or provides a whole new layout from which to build, all while providing an amazing visual result once the project is rendered.

8. Subsonic – I've been using Subsonic to listen to music on my iPhone 4 for a few months now, as each new iOS update continues to kill off any music syncing progress made with Linux. Not to worry though, Subsonic has come to the rescue and delivers all my music to my iOS devices thanks to the locally installed Linux software and the app for the iPhone itself.

This allows immediate access to your music library from anywhere in the world with either 3G or wi-fi access. Subsonic even supports playlist creation and management, which is a must for any music loving Linux enthusiast.

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Tags: Linux, Linux desktop, Gnome, KDE, audio

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