Flatpaks and other universal package formats are becoming more popular, and for good reason. Flatpak in particular targets a wide variety of Linux distributions and makes setup quite simple for all of them. That means that if I find a group of Flatpaks that I really like, I can get them on Fedora, Solus, Endless OS, Mageia, elementaryOS, Gentoo, or Clear Linux, among others. In honor of the incredible cross-distro nature of Flatpaks, this article will highlight the top five most useful productivity Flatpaks.
A quick note: these are not just Flatpaks from the “Productivity” category on Flathub. Some of them are, but these are meant to show you the breadth of tools available to you in order to help you get things done in your day.
1. Apostrophe: An elegant, distraction-free markdown editor
Markdown is one of those tools that many in the open source community know how to use and many want to know how to use. One of the greatest ways to learn markdown is through the open-source note-taking app Joplin. They teach most of the basics, including headings, basic formatting of lists, line breaks, and link and image embeds.
Apostrophe, however, is aimed at those who already know markdown. It’s a very simple interface, which is something I like. It really gets out of your way as advertised. Another thing I really like about Apostrophe as a markdown editor is that it doesn’t have a preview pane unless you specifically ask for it. As I’ve gotten more comfortable with markdown, I’ve wanted to just write, then see what the rendered text looks like later.
2. LibreOffice: A full office productivity suite
LibreOffice is a stalwart member of the Linux desktop community. As a go-to office suite, it answers the question of, “How will I work on my spreadsheets on Linux?” It has quite a few useful tricks up its sleeve. But, one of the greatest things to happen to LibreOffice was when it turned into a Flatpak. This allowed for a fully-featured, fully-MS office format-compatible office suite on a huge variety of distros. Need I say more?
3. Remmina: An easy-to-use remote desktop client
This is where “productivity” takes a more subjective turn. Remmina is for everybody out there managing multiple remote or virtual machines, and you want to have a very user-friendly remote desktop client. You can connect to multiple machines all in one window with a simple tabbed view, take clean screenshots, grab keyboard input, and redirect USB devices from the control panel.
This is all huge for someone who commonly runs multiple virtual machines for testing and demonstration. Virtual machines usually involve QEMU/KVM virtualization controlled by
virsh from the terminal and a remote desktop client to view the output from the virtual machine’s display server. Remmina makes it really easy for me to have both an Ubuntu and RHEL virtual machine running at the same time to test the same processes on the two different distros. You can also separate the two tabs, but switching back and forth is easy enough.
4. Audacity: A powerful audio recorder and editor
For anybody who does any kind of audio work, Audacity is a must-have application. It has a ton of different plugins and features that make recording and editing podcasts, voiceovers, or music a total breeze. I would venture a guess that many of the most popular Linux and open source podcasts use Audacity as their audio processing program of choice.
Before the team released the Audacity Flatpak, it was a challenge to get Audacity on Linux simply. You could add a PPA to Ubuntu or Mint or build it from source. That’s all fine and well, but it doesn’t make for a great experience for entry-level users. The Flatpak alleviates that entirely and allows for a simple download from a software center.
5. Firefox: the go-to open-source web browser
Another long-standing member of the FOSS community, Firefox is the standard by which many other open source browsers are held. Now, with Mozilla releasing an official Firefox Flatpak, they have catapulted themselves into the hands of many Flatpak users. Fedora has had a Firefox Flatpak for a while, but now many distributions that are focusing on Flatpaks will be able to give their users a stable, confined, official version of Firefox to use and enjoy. You’ll also be able to get the newest version of Firefox on something like CentOS, which uses an ESR of Firefox and does not get many new Firefox features.
A web browser is crucial for getting work done these days. Whether you’re doing research on a technical problem, sending an email through some kind of webmail provider, or just shopping on some ecommerce website, there are many people who can go multiple days opening nothing but a browser. This is especially true now with the advent of web interfaces for many different systems you’ll administer. If you don’t have a good web browser at your side, you’ll be quite stuck.
I hope you learned something new about Flatpaks or discovered a new Flatpak you’d like to try. If this has piqued your interest in Flatpaks, make sure to learn how to get started with Flatpaks on Fedora and how to install Windows games on Linux with Winepak.