Killer Linux Apps: 2015 Edition
January 15, 2015 5:08 PM   Subscribe

I just got a new linux laptop to replace my old one. I've set up everything I normally use on it, and have discovered a few pieces of software I hadn't known about before. I'd like more! Recommend to me your best-kept-secret linux apps.

The machine is a System 76 Gazelle Professional with all the trimmings. Thus far I've installed (or it came with):
  • Firefox / Thunderbird
  • Chrome
  • LibreOffice
  • Apache (httpd)
  • Java, Apache Tomcat and Oracle (all work-related)
  • NetBeans (my IDE of choice)
  • DBeaver (database access/browsing tool)
  • Banshee (music app)
  • GIMP
  • Pidgin
  • Numix (theme and icon set)
  • Synergy
  • Guake
  • Preload
What I have in mind is stuff like those last 3 -- programs you didn't know you were missing. I can obviously figure out the big obvious things, like what web browsers are out there (though if you think you know of a superior replacement to one of the items above, by all means suggest it). I'm more looking for the niche apps and lesser-known cool projects. I've used linux for years and I'm a professional software engineer, so I'm completely comfortable with compiling the software you recommend if needed.
posted by axiom to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
darktable, for sure; it's a really good raw photo workflow.
posted by scruss at 5:51 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been using mps-youtube a lot lately for getting my YT fix. It's a terminal app with MPV or VLC combo, and helpfully sidesteps a lot of YT annoyances (ads, annotations) and the biggest one of all, flash. It took me a week or so to get used to this new way, but now I rarely go watch YT videos in the browser.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:58 PM on January 15, 2015

xmonad - Tiling window manager
nix - Purely functional package manager
posted by books for weapons at 6:10 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Profile-sync-daemon syncs browser profiles to your RAM. Nice performance boost if you're like me and keep many months of history in your browser. Good for reducing calls to your SSD too. pdnsd for local dns caching. Privoxy is neat if you need to block ads or otherwise filter web content in lightweight browsers. (Convert adblock plus rules to Privoxy format.) Pidgin can obviously handle any IM needs but I must mention bitlbee: consolidate your various IMs, tweets, FB messages, xmpp chats in a command line IRC client like irssi or weechat. Then access 'em anywhere through a remote tmux session. If you're a vim user or a fan of the ol' Midnight Commander, ranger is a brilliant console file manager. If vi-keybinds aren't your thing, many of my other favourite little programs may not appeal—like vimb, the lightweight modal browser; or termite, a lesser known terminal emulator with beautiful TTF rendering through fontconfig, and a handy hints-mode for mouse-free opening of URLs. All of these are pretty actively developed.
posted by Lorin at 6:16 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

keepassx: hands-down the best password vault there is.

gparted: for whatever reason, last I checked, a stock Ubuntu system (which I assume you have, given it's a System76 laptop) has this on the live CD but not in the install image. It's too useful to ignore.

filezilla: the better way of downloading over HTTP, FTP, and SFTP. Somewhat clunky-looking interface, but supremely powerful. Careful when looking for the project website; the real one is; scammers somehow managed to park

kodi: the media center formerly known as XBMC. Has been getting faster and more stable at an impressive pace over the past few years, and these days rivals the performance of many standalone media players, while at the same time being able to organize truly gigantic media collections.

All but the last are in the default Ubuntu repositories.
posted by fifthrider at 6:36 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I used Open Shot (a non-linear video editor) to edit some vacation movies. A little klunky but great value for the price ($0).
posted by forthright at 6:58 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: atool is a small handy command line program that will decompress *any* kind of file (zip, tgz, bz2, etc). It also automatically does it to a subdirectory if the archive doesn't have one built in.

unison is like rsync but bi-directional.

gitolite is a very nice system for sharing git repositories managed also using git all done through ssh. Very slick and easy to setup and manage.

I'm also a fan of mpd for playing music.
posted by Poldo at 8:50 PM on January 15, 2015

For digital painting, mypaint and krita are pretty mature at this point.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:24 PM on January 15, 2015

I find Gnome Shell to be a much nicer alternative to Ubuntu's default Unity interface. As books for weapons mentioned, though, the cool kids use xmonad.

Recently discovered Cool Retro Term. Pretty but pointless.

If you like Python and data science, ipython notebook is delightful for interactive data nerdery.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:54 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

How about Workrave, to force you to take typing breaks? Your wrists will thank me in a couple of years.
posted by vasi at 10:28 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I hardly use grep any more since learning about ack.
posted by zsazsa at 12:16 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

VLC will play anything.

I like Redshift to manage screen colour by time of day.

I use Sparkleshare as a simple way of having shared folders across random computers. It's particularly handy coupled with Tomboy synched to a "local" folder.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:44 AM on January 16, 2015

jedit inkscape imagemagick freemind anki filelight linphone xaralx filezilla sagemath ffmpeg apparmor httrack mc yakuake fish shell MySQL Workbench genymotion (xfriend if you can find it)

pidgin plus ORT plug -in
LibreOffice congrats if you are happy with it. If not look into softmaker
Chrome, exchange with chromium?
keepassx, as a word of caution: my pw file got corrupted several times.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:01 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Does a whole bunch of things including clean unneeded packages or cache to free disk space: Ubuntu Tweak

On preview. edit link to 'About'.
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:28 AM on January 16, 2015

Gnome shell got all kinds of bad press which kept me away from it for a few years, but then I finally gave it a try and love it. At this particular stage in the game I find it a huge step up from Unity:

sudo apt-get install gnome-desktop

The best terminal editor is terminator. The killer features for me are window splitting and fully customizable keybinding.
posted by mcstayinskool at 5:40 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

nginx is, in my humble opinion, vastly superior to apache.
posted by Freen at 9:45 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's what's currently in my Linux toolbox:

kupfer - Similar to Spotlight
RedShift - Adjust color temperature according to the sun
Zathura - PDF viewer
Docky - Dock
Fogger - Make web apps behave like desktop apps
HandBrake - Video encoding tool
SMPlayer - Media player
Double Commander - Classic two-pane file manager
NixNote - Evernote client
Cheese - Webcam photos/videos
Deluge - Torrent client
HexChat - IRC client

htop - View process information
ncdu - Directory usage
mtr - Traceroute
most - Viewer/pager
Midnight Commander - Classic two-pane file manager
etckeeper - Automatically track changes to your /etc directory
Docker - Container platform
tmux - Terminal multiplexer

Not open source:
Valentina Studio - DB GUI (Free)
Rainlendar - Calendar (Free, $12)
Sublime Text - Text Editor (Unlimited trial, $70)
HipChat - Team chat (Free, $2/user/month)
CrashPlan - Backup tool ($5/month)
Spotify - Music subscription ($10/month)
posted by Sharcho at 1:43 AM on January 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Surprised f.lux hasn't been mentioned yet. TLDR: progressively dims and warms the screen as it gets dark. Your eyeballs will thank you.
posted by aheckler at 9:04 AM on January 17, 2015

youtube-dl - Small command-line program to download videos from YouTube and other video sites.
posted by Bangaioh at 8:39 PM on January 20, 2015

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