Making the switch to Ubuntu – or any popular Linux distribution – is more than the mere act of changing operating systems. You must also have apps that allow you to get work done.
In this article, I'll be sharing critical applications that I rely on, and I’ll talk about how I use them in my daily activities.
Apps for Daily Use.
Generally when it comes to software on the Linux desktop, I drop app titles into one of two categories. These would be stuff I use every day, and everything else. Below are applications I find myself running each and every day.
1) Firefox – Sometimes I use other browsers, but lately Firefox has been my long trusted friend. Reliable, safe and cross platform, Firefox is generally what I use for my daily browsing needs.
In addition to accessing bookmarks and webpages, I also rely on Firefox to handle my various LAN server duties as well. Duties such as: Plex, Zoneminder, router/WAPs, and my file server. All of these are accessed each day using Firefox.
2) Parcelite – I can't begin to function without a decent clipboard manager, and for me, you can't beat Parcelite on the GNOME desktop. Simple to use, easy to access and it's also chalked full of useful options. Parcelite options include everything from hotkeys to white space handling. There are a ton of great clipboard managers out there, but it's tough to beat what Parcelite offers.
3) Bittorrent Sync – I have used various open source alternatives for file syncing that needed more development before being released. That being said Bittorrent Synchas NEVER let me down. It's easy to run and install thanks to the new GUI offering, and Bittorrent Sync allows me to transfer huge video files quickly from machine to machine without wasting time syncing stuff to the "cloud."
I've also found it to be a fantastic way to share large files easily with others, while maintaining IP address and directory privacy along the way. Despite the numerous alternatives available, I remain firmly grounded as a Bittorrent Sync fanboy.
4) System Monitor – Because TOP only goes so far, I prefer a tabbed GUI as it's much easier on my eyes. Using GNOME's System Monitor, I can quickly discover a runaway process and easily kill it without ever needing to break a sweat. Unlike a terminal app like TOP, I can also get a visual perspective using graphs in real-time for my CPU, memory and disk usage. Being a visual person, it's difficult to beat the bar graph showing me how much space I have. Same applies to real-time resource usage as well.
5) PulseAudioControl – Each day, I tend to bounce between multiple sound devices. Sometimes I need to make one the default, but then switch from Firefox audio to another device altogether. Because I like to have as much control over my audio as possible, I've found that PulseAudioControl is an invaluable tool.
Everything else software.
In this section, I'll share apps that I use, but may not necessarily use each and every day. Many of these apps are open source, some are not, all are of great value to me personally.
6) Skype – Whether it's calling into Jupiter Broadcasting to co-host a weekly podcast, or simply catching up with a business contact, Skype is how Internet video conversations happen. After testing countless alternatives, I always find myself coming back to Skype. Even though there are really awesome open source options like Ekiga or Jitsi, at the end of the day Skype is where everyone is at – good luck getting people to switch.
7) Kdenlive – I use two different video editors, and when it comes to banging out a heavily edited video, Kdenlive is the tool I use for picture in picture compositing and editing really large, complex videos. I've successfully managed 6 track edits in Kdenlive that have crashed in other video editors.
8) OpenShot – For the most part, OpenShot is my goto video editor for most of my video editing tasks. Quick edits, and two track work goes by quickly and easily using this editor. I have also found that it offers great effects that are difficult to match elsewhere. Blender title effects and great video transitions make OpenShot a fantastic editor for my own projects.
9) SpiderOak – After using countless cloud backup services over the years, I've settled on SpiderOak as my favorite. Easy to use and setup, I love the incremental options provided and how simple it is use. Just set it and forget it, then SpiderOak does all the heavy lifting.
10) Dropbox – I've had a love/hate relationship with Dropbox for many years now. Despite being cross platform, which means I can access files from anywhere, I'm slowly finding my self less and less reliant on this cloud-based backup solution. Still, it does allow me to access files from any web browser even if it's not from a computer I'm normally using, which makes dropping the Dropbox habit even harder.
11) Writer – I've been relying on Writer since I first used it on Windows via OpenOffice. Today, I am using Writer with LibreOffice and for my needs, it does everything I could need a word processor to do. Now it's fair to point out that some proprietary office suites might offer additional functionality not found in Writer, however 99% of what most people need is covered here with Writer. For me personally, I'll always be a LibreOffice Writer fan.
12) SimpleScreenRecorder – Over the years, I've come to find myself using SimpleScreenRecorder over other alternatives as it does a nice job with multiple monitor support, plus it can even capture OpenGL applications as well. Easy to use and reliable, SimpleScreenRecorder has served me well. I recommend it to anyone who is tired of playing with other screen capturing software that only works some of the time.
13) SimpleScan – When I need to scan a document, I don't want to spend a lot of time configuring a bloated program. Simple Scan is great in this capacity. Rocking the SANE scanner database, Simple Scan will work with just about any scanner or all-in-one printer/scanner you throw at it. What's also nice is that it's setup to work with the best resolution out of the box, yet you're still free to make any manual adjustments you see fit.
14) Baobab (Disk Usage Analyzer) – I keep hearing how hard drive prices have come down. Be that as it may, the fact is I'm not made of money and each dollar I spend is usually part of a tight budget. This means I need to make the best use of the hard drive space I have available. To help me do this, I rely on Baobab to give me both a clear view of my available space on my hard drive, but also a clearer picture of which directories are eating away at my precious hard drive space.
Apps That Really Work, Regardless.
When it comes to applications I rely on, it's really less about their titles and licenses and more about the tasks that they allow me to accomplish. The myth that Linux doesn't really have required software is becoming a thing of the past. Most computing tasks, barring a few limited exceptions, can be done easily from the Linux desktop as I've explained above.
Obviously there are applications that are "must haves" for you, that I might not use myself. What applications do you rely on? Hit the Comments below and share your best applications with the readers here.
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