Hardware & Software

7 Linux Applications for Your Desktop

April 6, 2015

Guest Author

You made it to Linux. If the new world of Linux scares you, fear not, for it may take a little while for your eyes to adjust to the new view. This blog post provides a list of common Linux applications for your desktop which replace similar Microsoft programs. The Linux distribution of your choice, affects whether or not these applications are preinstalled. The Arch Linux users who recently installed their new systems need to download and install the applications with pacman from the command-line.

The Linux Applications For Your Desktop Are:

1. Microsoft Office to LibreOffice

We are not here to debate the pros and cons of Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Google Docs and other office suites. Before demanding what you absolutely need in terms of office programs, determine what you use on a daily basis. The list tends to boil down to a writing and document application, something for email, and an Excel equivalent.

I will address Outlook below. For creating basic documents and PDFs, LibreOffice works. Other than the differences in the toolbars and location of everything, it isn’t a far move shot from Microsoft Word. If you want to ditch native applications entirely, then stick with Google Docs. After creating a document, you can download them in several different file formats, including .docx and pdf.

2. Photoshop to GIMP

I am waiting for the first comment to say something similar to, “GIMP can’t replace Photoshop and it nothing ever can.” Adobe Photoshop and the full creative software suite for video, photo, and other editing capabilities is unparalled, but GIMP users claim they can come 99.9% close to producing the same results in their open source photo editor.

Despite the GIMP versus Photoshop debate, you can’t help but wonder why Adobe does not make their applications compatible with Linux, especially since they work with Red Hat.

3. Adobe Reader to Okular or Evince

Can you find the right application to open and view a PDF file? Evince or Okular compensate for the absence of Adobe Reader.

Okular is a KDE-based program and it allows users to view various file formats including images, PDFs, EPUBs, CBRs, and CBZs. Also, you can mark up, comment, annotate, highlight and perform other functions.

Evince works for GNOME-based distributions, but it does not carry the same advanced features as Okular or Adobe Reader for Windows and Mac systems.

4. Outlook to Thunderbird

If you still rely on a native email management application, then Thunderbird is your best bet to replace Microsoft Outlook. However, sticking with a browser login for email access gets the job done. I never used Outlook in the first place. Now, I access an Outlook account and Gmail in the browser.

Thunderbird is a Mozilla product with easy custom features such as various search tools, tabbing for email drafts, IM ability for different chat clients, easy address book management, automatic updates, phishing protection, and proven security.

5. VLC for a video player

The VideoLan media player (VLC) is an open source multimedia player for DVDs, CDs, and streaming services.  VLC works not only for Linux, but Windows, UNIX, and Mac OS X systems as well.

The media player provides a wide variety of unique features such as desktop recording, video file conversions, and the ability to download Youtube videos.

6. Excel to LibreCalc

Excel is one program most accounting professionals can’t live without. They prove skeptical with open source alternative programs and deny claims of replicating higher-level functions possible in Excel.

I am unfamiliar with the extent of Excel compared to open source applications such as LibreCalc, but will address this comparison in a new post soon.

7. VirtualBox for leftover Windows programs

To ease the separation anxiety during the Windows-to-Linux transition, VirtualBox enables you to run a copy of Windows and use Windows-only programs such as Outlook, Excel, or even Photoshop.

VirtualBox is an effective tool for trying other Linux distributions out before making the switch to any new operating system. I would suggest never making a blind plunge into a new OS without a test run and a good amount of patience.

The List for the Linux Sysadmin

As a Linux Systems Administrator responsible for desktop environments in the enterprise, you must understand the steps for installing, configuring, and troubleshooting for issues with various applications utilized in your work environment. This list becomes handy when an avid Windows or Mac user joins the team and must learn to adjust to Linux.
Download the CompTIA Linux+ Study Guide
For those IT pros who recently earned a Linux+ certification, start your own list of suggested applications for users in your work environment. The more you know may reduce the stress and pain when dealing with a string of questions from staff. 

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