Welcome to our guide to the best free apps for Linux. All of the apps on this list are available to download, install and use free of charge for almost every distribution of Linux today. Free software really owes a lot to the Linux world, and because of this, there are thousands of apps to choose from today. The apps I have chosen for this list represent some of the most popular and feature-rich apps available for the Linux platform today.
The open source version of Google Chrome, Chromium can easily be installed on any Linux version with just a few clicks or a few key strokes in the Terminal. Like Chrome, you have access to an app store to enhance the power of the browser and you will be hard pressed to find a browser on Linux that’s faster and more feature-rich.
Chrome is still the top of the browser world, and since it’s based on Chromium, you can also install it on Linux. Some may wonder why bother when you have Chromium, but if you use and of the Google Software suite, then this is one of the best options out there for you, even on Linux.
Firefox, in many ways, got its start on Linux. Today, it is still the default browser that comes with many different Linux distributions. It’s fast, includes many different addons and themes, and because it is one of the go to browsers on Linux, you can expect it to work very well right out of the box without having to spend a lot of time tweaking it for your distribution.
Many of the modern features that we have come to expect with modern browsers actually they got their start on this browser. While it doesn’t enjoy the market share that others have, millions swear by this browser and it is fast and reliable. If you want to try a browser that’s a little different, I would recommend giving Opera a try.
In the beginning of instant messaging, Linux was left out in the cold. But, thanks to apps like Pidgin, IM clients from all the different providers became available. Instead of running three different instant messaging apps, why not run one and connect all your accounts to it? Pidgin lets you do just that and with its host of addons and features you will never need another IM app ever again.
Skype is the king of online voice communication these days, and because of this it makes it on our list of best Linux apps. Unfortunately, development of a Linux version is behind the Windows and Mac versions. Because of this, there is no 64-bit version of the software. That means installed the 32-bit version and a bunch of other software to make things work properly. Still, because of its popularity, it is a must have for many Linux users.
Evolution is an open source email client that began as a part of the Gnome project. Today, it is one of the best email apps out there and one of the most popular out there. With features such as contacts management, calendar integration, and more, you will get the power of a professional email client without investing one cent.
Thunderbird is one of the oldest open source email clients out there, and by far the most popular, used by Linux users everywhere. It has just about every feature you can think of and then some, including cool features such as chat. From the makers of Firefox, Thunderbird is a full featured mail application that will even give you Exchange compatibility.
FTP transfers have never been easier. Its clean interface and ease of use takes everything complicated out of FTP transfers so you can upload and download from any FTP server with just a few clicks of your mouse. Of course, because it is such a complete FTP app, some features may seem a little complicated for new users.
If you want something stripped down and simple, then have a look at gFTP. While its interface looks a bit dated, it is the easiest FTP application to use that I have ever seen, making it perfect for beginners. If you aren’t all that familiar with FTP, or you just want something that is completely simply, then I suggest you start with gFTP.
There was a time that I would do all my disc burning using Linux, simply because of K3b. Designed for KDE, K3b can be installed on any distribution of Linux regardless of what GUI you are using. It is hands down the most powerful and feature-rich burning app I have ever used. You can literally burn anything you want using this app, making it a must have for anyone running Linux.
Hands down VLC is one of the best apps for watching, and even organizing your video library today. It will play almost any video format you can find with ease and gives you a wide range of controls to customize your watching experience.
This cross platform player can play audio, video, Internet radio and more. It can even rip DVDs. With support for almost every media type you can think of, you won’t have to worry about searching for another player ever again.
You can’t talk about media players without mentioning Rhythmbox. The default player of Ubuntu, this app still enjoys strong support in the community and is used by many Linux fans around the world. Gnome distributions still ship with this player today. With multiple format support and a host of organization features, it’s easy to see why this is a popular choice for managing music.
No matter what player you use, you still need a good streaming service to compliment your library. Spotify provides you the streaming you need and its cross platform support means you can use it just about anywhere.
Who said you have to invest thousands to create and edit photos and digital images? GIMP gives you all the power of Adobe Photoshop without all the cost. While there is a bit of a learning curve, GIMP is one of the most powerful and feature-rich apps out there and can even be found packaged with some Linux distributions right out the box.
The perfect basic app for organizing your photos and sharing them to social media, Shotwell is easy to use, making it great for beginners. It will easily help you organize your photos and share them across other platforms so you never have to worry about losing another image ever again.
One of the most feature-rich photo management apps out there, this app is designed more for photographers or professionals. Because of this, it isn’t as easy to use as Shotwell, but if you need more features such as better RAW support and the ability to compare pictures side by side, then this is the app for you.
LibreOffice is a full featured Office suite that will allow you to create documents, edit spreadsheets, create presentations, and much more. You can even use it to edit some PDFs and it includes full Office compatibility so you will be able to open your old Microsoft files. If a good Office package is all that is preventing you from switching to Linux, give this one a try.
An early leader in the Office alternative space, Open Office is still at the top of Office suite alternatives. Like others, you can edit documents, create and edit spreadsheets, give presentations, and much more. It even offers full compatibility with Microsoft’s document formats so you never have to worry about compatibility issues.
If you have a Gmail account, you have access to the most powerful online suite of document editing and creation with just a few clicks. With Google Docs, Sheets and more, you have full access to an online suite of office applications that will allow you to create and edit virtually any type of document you can think of, without ever having to install anything on your local machine.
Developed by KDE, this viewer has little trouble handling a wide variety of files, including PDF files. With features that include embedded 3d model, geometric shapes, textboxes, you will not only be able to view, but make a few basic edits here and there as well.
If you are looking for a lightweight and efficient PDF viewer, look no further than Evince. It includes a wide range of tools to view all your PDF files, but it does lack some features you will find in more resource heavy apps. It’s light and easy to use, making it great for any system regardless of the system specs.
While the big note taking apps aren’t available, Gnote will get the job done quickly and efficiently. It includes a handful of features that allow you to export your notes and even print them, but don’t plan on using this app on other devices, as it is only available for Linux.
Dropbox was an early adopter of cloud storage and continues to lead the pack today for cloud storage. It’s compatible with a variety of operating systems including Windows, Mac, and Linux, making it a great cloud storage option for those that use systems across all three platforms. You get a small amount of storage for free, but can upgrade for even more with a small monthly fee attached to it.
Google Drive is cloud storage offered by Google, and is a great storage system if you live in the Google suite of apps like the ones I described above. For free you will have a small amount of storage, but for a small monthly free you can add to that so you can store all your files on the cloud.
The Linux terminal can unarchive and archive anything you want, but you have to be willing to type the commands yourself. If this isn’t for you, you can grab a GUI friendly app called PeaZip. While it won’t win any beauty contests, it gets the job done without you ever having to touch the terminal.
Sometimes you can’t avoid using a Windows application. In Linux, if there is no other option, you can install and run those apps using Wine. While it is a bit complicated to use, after a few minutes you will easily be able to install and run almost any Windows app you can think of, although support and functionality does vary app to app.
If you want to run a full version of Windows or even another Linux distribution on your Linux laptop, then download VirtualBox. It will allow you to create a virtual machine of almost any operating system available today so you can run multiple operating systems without having to reboot your machine.
If you like to use the terminal, then you are going to want this app. It dials your terminal experience up to 11, giving you a wide variety of features to improve your terminal experience. Features such as a grid view, new keyboard shortcuts, layout saving, and more, will truly change how you use the terminal.
Just because you have Linux, doesn’t mean you don’t need antivirus software. ClamAV is an easy to install and use free antivirus app for Linux. While there is no native GUI for the app, you can install ClamTK GUI to give it a graphical frontend. It’s lightweight and gives you just what you need to protect your Linux system.
Even Linux has to look out for root kits. With Chrootkit, you can scan your system and weed out those pesky root kits once and for all. On top of that, you can create a LiveCD that will boot your Linux system and remove those root kits before they have a chance to load and hide themselves from your scanners.
Free software truly got its start on the Linux platform. Because of this, there are thousands of apps today that are available for free for Linux. I have tried to select some of the best out there today for you to enjoy on your Linux laptop.
If you are looking for free apps for Windows, don’t forget to check out our Best Free Apps for Windows guide to find the best free software for Windows, and if you are looking for free software for a Mac, check out our guide here.
Think we should add a Linux app to this list? If so, comment on this post and we will do our best to add your suggestion to this list so you can help us create the most comprehensive software list there is for Linux on the Internet today.
About the author
Matt is an IT professional with over fifteen years experience supporting network infrastructure and computers. An avid gamer, Matt enjoys his time playing and writing about his experiences both in the IT world and in the gaming communities. You can find more of his writing for LaptopNinja where he enjoys talking about everything tech.