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Linux Apps

34 Must-Have Ubuntu Apps in 2020

Best Ubuntu Desktop Apps
Written by Divine Okoi
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As the month of March comes to a close I thought it is only fair that I share my preferred apps for Ubuntu users so far with you.

Most of these apps will run on any Linux distro so this list isn’t restricted to Ubuntu OS and it includes applications for the most important tasks a typical user will run during the course of his day. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

1. Unity Teak Tool (or Gnome Tweak Tool)

Unity Tweak tool is one of the first tools application consultants advise users to install immediately after installing a distro like Ubuntu because it provides users with the ability to configure their system the way they want via setting options that include desktop hot corners, icon sizes, theme and icon customization, workspace number and colors, etc.

Unity Tweak Tool

Unity Tweak Tool

Install Unity Tweak Tool on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo install unity-tweak-tool

2. Google Chrome (Browser)

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Google Chrome Browser is arguably the best browser you can have. As a Google project, you can trust it to have features the best browsers offer including developer tools, web development standards, and support for the newest technologies.

Google Chrome Browser

Google Chrome Browser

Download Google Chrome for Linux

3. VLC Media Player

VLC is arguably the best cross-platform video media player you can use. It has a ton of features including extensive theming options, a clean and responsive UI, audio and video quality tweaks, multiple audio streams, online video streaming, etc. VLC media player can play virtually any audio and video format you throw at it.

Vlc Player

Vlc Player

Install VLC Media Player on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install vlc

4. GIMP (Image Editing)

While you might be complaining that Adobe has not ported Photoshop and Illustrator to Linux yet, Gimp is the ideal alternative for Linux users.

Gimp Image Editor

Gimp Image Editor

You can even theme it to make it look and act like Photoshop (with regards to shortcut keys) if you miss Adobe that much.

Install Gimp on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install gimp

5. Shotcut (Video Editing)

Shotcut is a free, Open Source, cross-platform video editor with a sleek User Interface and support for a broad range of video formats.

Shotcut Video Editor

Shotcut Video Editor

Install the Shotcut video editing tool on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install shotcut --classic

6. Steam (Linux Gaming)

This one is a no-brainer. It’s thanks to Steam that thousands of games are now available for the Open Source community and gaming issues on Linux are almost completely a thing of the past. If you’re a gamer, you can’t go wrong with Steam.

Steam for Linux

Steam for Linux

Install Steam on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install linux-steam-integration

7. Visual Studio Code (Text Editor)

One of Visual Studio Code’s best features is its educational feature in which it explains how HTML tags (for example,) are used as it makes suggestions while you write.

Visual Studio Live Theme Preview

Visual Studio Live Theme Preview

It has out of the box integration with Git, the flexibility of Sublime Text and beauty of Atom text editor.

Install the Visual Studio Code on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install code --classic

Sublime Text was my favorite text editor until I began to use Visual Studio Code. You might fall in love with it too.

Install the Sublime Text editor on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo snap install sublime-text --classic

8. Peek (Screen Recording)

Peek is a handy utility tool with which you can record your screen and quickly turn the videos into Gif animations. It is beautifully designed, lightweight, and straightforward.

Peek - Gif Recorder for Linux

Peek – Gif Recorder for Linux

Install Peek animated GIF screen recorder on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:peek-developers/stable
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install peek

9. Nylas (Email Client)

Nylas is already my favorite email client even though it isn’t available for Linux yet.

Nylas Mail Client (Coming Soon to Linux)

Nylas Mail Client (Coming Soon to Linux)

It has such an excellent performance and artillery of features on the Windows and Mac that you might not want to use anything else when it’s finally available for Linux.

Download Nylas Email Client for Linux

In the meantime, Trojita is another email client you can check out.

10. Simple Weather Indicator (Weather App)

If you want to keep track of the weather conditions in designated locations without stress then Simple Weather Indicator is the way to go. Interact with it from your desktop panel bar.

Simple Weather Indicator

Simple Weather Indicator

Install Simple Weather Indicator on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kasra-mp/ubuntu-indicator-weather
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install indicator-weather

Another indicator app you can check out is Battery Monitor to keep track if your system battery status from desktop bar.

11. GitBook Editor (GitBook Workflow)

If you’re a GitBook user then there isn’t any desktop client better than GitBook’s own cross-platform GitBook Editor. It is nicely designed and free to use.

GitBook Editor on Linux

GitBook Editor on Linux

Download GitBook Editor for Linux

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12. Ramme (Unofficial Instagram Desktop Client)

Ramme is an Electron-based unofficial cross-platform Instagram desktop app with support for theme customization, keyboard shortcuts, background behavior, and automatic updates.

Ramme Instagram App for Linux

Ramme Instagram App for Linux

If for one reason or the other you’re not able to constantly be on your phone to interact with your Instagram account, Ramme is the way to go.

Download Ramme for Linux

13. Whatever (Evernote Alternative)

Whatever is an Electron wrapper for Evernote’s web version possessing the same look and feel the Evernote client apps for other platforms possess by mirroring all of its functionality including a background working mode and tray icons.

Whatever Unofficial Evernote Client

Whatever Unofficial Evernote Client

Download Whatever for Linux

14. MOC (Music On Console) (Console Music Player)

You might need to run a native console-based music player especially of you’re a console power user and you can’t go wrong with MOC music player. It is lightweight and would never negatively get in the way of your system’s process flow.

Moc - Linux Terminal Music Player

Moc – Linux Terminal Music Player

Install MOC (Music On Console) on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install moc moc-ffmpeg-plugin

Another console-based music player you can check out is Tizonia.

15. GPMDP (Google Music Play Desktop Client)

Google Play Music Desktop Player is an Electron replica of Google Play Music that is interestingly more awesome than its parent app.

Google Play Music Client for Linux

Google Play Music Client for Linux

It integrates nicely with Unity, requires fewer web resources than Google Play Music, features last.fm integration and is HTML5 based.

Download Google Music Player for Linux

16. Skype (VoIP)

Skype is another no-brainer on this list. It has the most market share and you probably want to have it on your desktop since apparently, one is more likely to have a Microsoft account than any other.

Install Skype in Linux

Install Skype in Linux

If you don’t want to swing in Skype’s way yet then you can always use Wire – it’s an awesome alternative messaging app to Skype for Linux.

Install the Skype on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install skype --classic

17. Stacer (System Optimizer)

With Stacer you can perform system diagnosis to check your CPU, memory, and disk usage, start-up apps, wipe cache, and uninstall apps. It is an Electron app that’s FOSS and features a clean UI.

Stacer Dashboard

Stacer Dashboard

Install the Stacer on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:oguzhaninan/stacer -y
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install stacer -y

18. Conky (Customization Tool)

Conky is a lightweight system monitoring tool that lets you display system information like memory and disk usage, weather, battery and network statistics, running applications, etc, on your desktop like a boss as long as you can fit the instruction into its configuration settings.

Serene Conky Theme

If you’re a customization buff and you don’t have Conky then you’re missing something.

Install the Conky on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:teejee2008/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install conky-manager

19. GDebi (Package Installer)

Gdebi is a utility tool that works as an alternative to your default Software Center for installing applications – specifically, .deb packages while resolving and installing its dependencies and you can use it right from your terminal.

GDebi Package Installer

GDebi Package Installer

Install the GDebi on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install gdebi

20. LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a free and open-source office suite with a clean interface and robust set of tools that enable users to unleash their creativity and achieve efficiency with office tasks as well as everyday operations.

It is the successor to OpenOffice and the most popular alternative to Microsoft Office suite with full compatibility with all MS office document formats.

LibreOffice - Open Source Office Suite

LibreOffice – Open Source Office Suite

Install the LibreOffice on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install libreoffice

21. digiKam

digiKam is a professional open-source photo editing and management software. Apart from enabling users to view, edit, and enhance image files, it features calendars, slideshows, a plugin subsystem, geotagging using bash scripting, and picture imports in several formats.

digiKam Photo Management

digiKam Photo Management

Install the digiKam on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install digikam --beta

22. Geary

Geary is a free and blazing fast email client created for the Gnome desktop. It has been built around conversations that enables users to create rich text with images, lists, links, etc.

It features a well-organized UI, desktop notifications, full-text search support, archive support for Outlook and Yahoo! Mail, and online documentation, among other features.

Geary Linux Email Client

Geary Linux Email Client

Install the Geary on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:geary-team/releases
$ sudo apt install geary

23. Telegram Desktop

Telegram Desktop is a fast and secure desktop client for the popular instant messaging application, Telegram. Telegram officers users heavily cloud-based encrypted messages that deliver fast and stay free from trackers. It has no limit of file size, groups of up to 200,000 members, self-destruct messages, and many more!

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Install the Telegram on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install telegram-desktop

24. Tilix Terminal Emulator

Tilix is an advanced free and open-source terminal emulator creating using GTK3 to enable users to organize multiple terminal windows horizontally and vertically. Its features include adding custom titles and hyperlinks, drag-and-drop, persistent layouts, and support for images.

Tilix Terminal Emulator

Tilix Terminal Emulator

Install the Tilix on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt-get update -y
$ sudo apt-get install -y tilix

25. Etcher Image Writer

Etcher is a modern USB and SD card image write tool for Linux, macOS and Windows. It uses a clean and friendly UI which makes it super easy to use for creating bootable drives. Its features include validated flashing, simultaneous writing for multiple drives, and it is open source.

Etcher - Create Bootable USB Drive

Etcher – Create Bootable USB Drive

Download Etcher for Linux

26. Cawbird Twitter Client

Cawbird is a free and open-source lightweight Twitter client created for the Gnome 3 desktop. It is a modern fork of Corebird created to offer users features such as inline image and video preview, tweet filtering, full-text search, multiple account management, lists, and favorites creation, etc.

Cawbird Twitter Client

Cawbird Twitter Client

Install the Cawbird Twitter Client on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install cawbird

27. Flameshot

Flameshot is a screenshot tool that works in the command line. It is free and open-source with a customizable appearance that is easy to use with keyboard shortcuts. Its features include the ability to edit screenshots in-app, save locally, upload to Imgur, and a DBus interface.

Flameshot Screenshot Software

Flameshot Screenshot Software

Install the Flameshot on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ apt install flameshot

28. Neofetch

Neofetch is a free and open-source cross-platform command-line system information tool. It displays everything about your hardware, software, and operating system in a visually pleasing way. By default, it displays system information next to the OS logo and it can be configured to use any other image or nothing.

Neofetch System Information Tool

Neofetch System Information Tool

Install the Neofetch on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install neofetch --beta

29. Shortwave

Shortwave is a free and open-source modern radio player for Linux operating systems. It has adopted all of the best features from Gradio and now host a plethora of functionalities such as the ability to play audio on network devices like Chromecast, light and ask display modes, automatic song recognition, library creation, etc.

Shortwave Internet Radio Player for Linux

Shortwave Internet Radio Player for Linux

Install the Shortwave on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install flatpak
$ flatpak install flathub de.haeckerfelix.Shortwave

30. Rambox

Rambox is an all-in-one messaging and emailing application created to be a Hub for almost any communication and productivity app; perhaps even more. Created using Electron, Rambox allows users to add as many web services to it and even run multiple accounts without any restrictions.

Rambox Messaging and Emailing App for Linux

Rambox Messaging and Emailing App for Linux

Install the Rambox on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install rambox

31. Blender

Blender is a powerful free and open-source 3D creation suite with support for the whole 3D pipeline – i.e. compositing and motion tracking, video editing, simulation, rendering, rigging, modelling, and the whole 2D animation pipeline. Used by many of the world’s most renowned modelling experts, animators, and filmmakers, Blender is arguably the most popular 3D creation software and most likely the only app you need to get started if you’re new to the field.

Blender 3D Creation Tool for Linux

Blender 3D Creation Tool for Linux

Install the Blender on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt install snapd
$ sudo snap install blender --classic

32. PlayOnLinux

PlayOnLinux is a gaming application that enables Linux users to install and play a butt load of games that were designed for Windows on their machine. If you’ve ever used Wine then you will enjoy this way better. It is open-source and completely free of charge with support for Python and Bash script, and of course, an ad-free user interface.

PlayonLinux to Run Windows Games on Linux

PlayonLinux to Run Windows Games on Linux

Download PlayOnLinux for Linux

33. Synaptic

Synaptic is a free and open-source APT-based graphical package management tool. It is among the most reliable ways to install and manage applications on Linux machines due to its user-friendly UI that makes it easy to install, update, and remove packages together with their dependent files.

If you were wondering, here are 3 ways to install software on Ubuntu.

Synaptic Package Manager

Synaptic Package Manager

Install the Synaptic on Ubuntu via the terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install synaptic

34. Feedly

Feedly is a minimalist-type RSS reader designed to enable users to organize and really all trusted publications and blogs from one place. It uses AI technology to read feeds and filter out noise as well as to enable collaborators to carry out research more easily and share insights using a beautiful, modern user interface.

Feedly News Aggregator

Feedly News Aggregator

Download Feedly for Linux

There are a lot more apps that can go on the list but the idea is to make a blanket case for Ubuntu users. Nevertheless, if I failed to mention any apps that are a must-have for your line of work feel free to make your suggestions as well as edits in the comments section.

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About the author

Divine Okoi

Martins Divine Okoi is a Cybersecurity graduate student with an enthusiasm for open-source software. With over 700 articles under his belt, he continues to recommend the best software that the market has to offer.