When you are new to Linux, even if you are not new to computers in general, one of the problems you will face is which apps to use. With millions of Linux apps, the choice is certainly not easy. Below you will find eight (out of millions) essential Linux apps to get you settled in quickly.
Most of these apps are not exclusive to Linux. If you have used Windows/Mac before, chances are you are familiar with some of them. Depending on what your needs and interests are, you might not need all these apps, but in my opinion, most or all of the apps on this list are useful for newbies who are just starting out on Linux.
1. Chromium Web Browser
There is hardly a user who doesn’t need a web browser. While you can find good old Firefox for almost any Linux distro, and there is also a bunch of other Linux browsers, a browser you should definitely try is Chromium. It’s the open source counterpart of Google’s Chrome browser. The main advantages of Chromium is that it is secure and fast. There are also tons of add-ons for it.
LibreOffice is an open source Office suite that comes with word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation (Impress), database (Base), formula editor (Math), and vector graphics and flowcharts (Draw) applications. It’s compatible with Microsoft Office documents, and there are even LibreOffice extensions if the default functionality isn’t enough for you.
LibreOffice is definitely one essential Linux app that you should have on your Linux computer.
GIMP is a very powerful open-source image editor. It’s similar to Photoshop. With GIMP you can edit photos and create and edit raster images for the Web and print. It’s true there are simpler image editors for Linux, so if you have no idea about image processing at all, GIMP might look too complicated to you. GIMP goes way beyond simple image crop and resize – it offers layers, filters, masks, paths, etc.
4. VLC Media Player
VLC is probably the best movie player. It’s cross-platform, so you might know it from Windows. What’s really special about VLC is that it comes with lots of codecs (not all of which are open source, though), so it will play (almost) any music or video file.
Jitsi is all about communication. You can use it for Google Talk, Facebook chat, Yahoo, ICQ and XMPP. It’s a multi-user tool for audio and video calls (including conference calls), as well as desktop streaming and group chats. Conversations are encrypted. With Jitsi you can also transfer files and record your calls.
Synaptic is an alternative app installer for Debian-based distros. It comes with some distros but not all, so if you are using a Debian-based Linux, but there is no Synaptic in it, you might want to give it a try. Synaptic is a GUI tool for adding and removing apps from your system, and typically veteran Linux users favor it over the Software Center package manager that comes with many distros as a default.
VirtualBox allows you to run a virtual machine on your computer. A virtual machine comes in handy when you want to install another Linux distro or operating system from within your current Linux distro. You can use it to run Windows apps as well. Performance will be slower, but if you have a powerful computer, it won’t be that bad.
8. AisleRiot Solitaire
A solitaire pack is hardly an absolute necessity for a new Linux user, but since it’s so fun. If you are into solitaire games, this is a great solitaire pack. AisleRiot is one of the emblematic Linux apps, and this is for a reason – it comes with more than eighty solitaire games, including the popular Klondike, Bakers Dozen, Camelot, etc. Just be warned – it’s addictive and you might end up spending long hours playing with it!
Depending on the distro you are using, the way to install these apps is not the same. However, most, if not all, of these apps will be available for install with a package manager for your distro, or even come pre-installed with your distro. The best thing is, you can install and try them out and easily remove them if you don’t like them.