Linux, occasionally referred to as GNU/Linux, is an open source and free operating system predominantly known for its use in servers, but has increasingly become commonplace in desktop, notebook and netbook computers in recent years after newer and enhanced versions of Linux distributions, Ubuntu or Linux Mint for example, are developed and offered free to users.
While you can get the Linux system and use it for free, you can also run on the system a wide range of free applications such as well-known and commonly-used software including Firefox web browser and the OpenOffice application suite.
Among various free applications, here you might find the best free software for Linux, including those products reviewed and recommended by our editors in the various sections.
Other programs that work as potential alternatives to Windows applications or even perform better than them are also listed here for the benefits of users who migrate from Windows to Linux or run dual systems on their computers.
Best Free Software for Linux - Quick Select Index
After clicking a link, use your browser's Back icon to return here.
"Not only can it clone disk to disk (any size) and copy disk partitions, it can also create and restore image files both locally and from an FTP site, if the workstation is connected to a wired network with a DCHP service." (Review)
A file manager for KDE (by default) and good for other desktop environments such as GNOME as well, focusing on usability with navigation bar, view properties, split of views, dockable panels and many other useful features.
Both archive managers designed respectively for GNOME and KDE desktop environments to create archives, view or extract files from archives, work as front-ends to command-line archivers supporting various file formats.
"A GNOME partition editor for resizing (enlarging or shrinking), creating or deleting, moving or copying partitions on a hard disk, creating a partition table, enabling or disabling partition flags such as boot and hidden." (Review)
"TrueCrypt is a powerful, flexible and highly-effective encryption program to encrypt files, folders or entire drives. Use this seasoned, widely-used encryption program when you want an encrypted container that mounts as a virtual drive.
It's one of those freeware programs that is far superior to commercial software and its open source status allows the all-important peer review of the source code required for a trustworthy encryption program." (Review)
"Provides 2 GB free space for backing up and sharing your files, works similar to any other folder of your computer—after installation, simply drag and drop files/folders to Dropbox you want to backup, share or sync with other computer." (Review)
"Shutter is like a swiss army knife for all screen capture tasks in Linux. It works better than Gnome-screenshot and KDE's KSnapshot.
You can use this program to capture desktop, window, child window and rectangular area, with many plugins for resize and special effects, delay capture, activate/deactivate window border and cursor, inbuilt drawing tools, linked to external editor and auto save." (Review)
An easy-to-use and effective recorder to make screen recordings into free Ogg video format. It also offers the ability to record audio through ALSA mixer or other options. The frontend program gtk-recordMyDesktop and the ALSA mixer can be downloaded from some depositories including Ubuntu Software Center.
"It is the largest and most complex application and runs on a wider range of platforms with more high-end features. Some of these features are not available in any of other programs.
You can activate fonts in tagged groups, view many sample texts in many languages, classify fonts using PANOSE, view and compare glyphs, find a font from a raster, extract fonts from PDF files, and test layouts in a free-form playground." (Review)
"A good wallpaper changer allows for wallpaper positions to set to centered, tiled, center tiled, centered maxpert, tiled maxpert, scaled, center auto fit or scale and crop.
The program supports features such as time intervals, selecting images from local folders or online resources, displaying images' EXIF data in system tray tool-tip, saving downloaded photos and run-time folder change detection." (Review)
A system tool allows you to preview and delete unnecessary files to free up your valuable disk space, maintain privacy, and remove hidden junk. It deletes cache, cookies, Internet history, logs, temporary files, broken shortcuts, and wipes clean 70 applications and more.
A Startup Manager to change settings for your preferred default operating system to boot up, manage Usplash themes, adjust bootloader menu resolution or set timeout in seconds. See alsoChange Default Boot Options.
Allows you to make a full system backup including your personal data to a live CD or DVD that you can use anywhere and install, or make a distributable copy, excluding your personal user data, of the system for sharing with your friends. It works for Debian, Ubuntu or its derivatives. (Review)
"Intends to be a complete front-end for MPlayer, from basic features like playing videos, DVDs, and VCDs to more advanced features like support for MPlayer filters, remember the settings of all files you play and more."
"An easy-to-use music player and organizer that has a clean interface, and sports many features, such as album art display, online radio access, and CD burning. This software is powered by Gstreamer, and can therefore support all of its audio formats, such as WAV, AAC, MP3, OGG, FLAC and more." (Review)
Imports, organizes, plays, and shares music using a simple yet powerful interface. Other features include rip CDs, create playlists, burn audio and mp3 CDs, support for podcasting and music recommendations.
"It is truly outstanding in this category and earns the Gizmo's Top Pick title rightfully in my eyes. It played all media files I fed it with and turned out to be the most reliable product for me.
XBMC offers convincing media library features and is highly configurable with custom skins and backdrops. You will find a vast amount of plugins, skins and other goodies for it as the community around XBMC is large." (Review)
Aims to be simple to use and fast for conversion from most audio files to wav, flac, mp3, aac and ogg files, supports for extraction of the audio from videos too. (Note: Install GStreamer MP3 Encoding to enable conversion to mp3.)
An easy-to-use converter to convert multimedia files from one format to another for playback on various devices. Supported output formats include m4v (Ipod), avi (Nokia, PDA or DVD player), mkv (computer) and mp4 (various Sony devices), depending on the device you choose.
A small and easy-to-use utility to convert most audio and video files to the patent-free Ogg format, and support for encoding to the Matroska container format (mkv, mka), with adjustable settings on audio and video quality for conversion.
"Edit all tags, generate tags from files or vice versa, import tags from databases, browse cover arts and lyrics from online resources, drag and drop cover art to a file, export tags, etc." Kid3 uses KDE libraries, while another package Kid3-qt is also available for installation without KDE dependencies." (Review)
A capable CD/DVD burner optimised for KDE, lets you easily burn data CDs/DVDs, create audio/video CDs and video DVDs, rip audio/video CDs and video DVDs along with other related tasks, good for experienced as well as beginner users.
Designed for ease of use to create a traditional audio CD, data CD/DVD, video DVD or a SVCD, burn an existing CD/DVD image to disc, copy a CD/DVD to a new disc or write to an image file in ISO and other formats.
"Most powerful burning application with advanced features, support for every modern optical disc from CD to Blu-Ray, more than 10 image formats, authoring rewritable discs, etc." Runs on Linux with Wine (x86 only). (Review)
"Select or drag-and-drop an image file to mount, one-click unmount, supports for burning ISO and IMG files, generate MD5 and SHA1 checksums, saving history and retrieving previously unmounted images." (Review)
"Good quality in transcoded video, small file size, integrates the latest improvements to the H.264 encoding library with enhanced picture quality, speed optimizations and supports better control over multiple audio tracks." (Review)
"It does all the recording and editing I need, and is much simpler and faster to use than a lot of paid products. The interface is easy to use, allowing you to select and apply a noise profile just as easily as removing it.
The program also can record live audio, convert tapes and records into digital recordings, edit various sound files, cut, copy, splice, and mix sounds together and change the speed or pitch of a recording." (Review)
"It is designed for multi-purpose video editing and processing and is my personal favorite because of its simplicity yet wide range of tools.
The software supports many file types, including AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4 and ASF, using a variety of codecs. It lets you do just about everything under the sun, with well documented tutorials." (Review)
"Currently the only freeware package I am aware of that can be called an advanced image editor.
If you are inexperienced at using image editing programs GIMP will likely be too overwhelming to start learning on as it has a steeper learning curve but it is feature rich. It has lots of advanced features and can do almost everything the Photoshop can do.
Its multi-windowed interface makes it a little unusual if you're used to a windows program." (Review)
A simplified alternative to GIMP and modelled after the popular Windows program Paint.Net, Pinta is good for average users and includes most basic features including common drawing tools, resizing and cropping, adjustments and effects for tweaking images as well as supports for multiple layers.
A digital photo management program designed to import, organize, enhance, search and export image files. With this you can add comments and tags to albums, view and edit items, create slideshows and calendars, and share your creations.
"A top product enhanced by an excellent user interface and the impressive set of tutorials, helps wean the user away from the world of digital images to the nodes, lines, curves and shapes that form the basis of vector editing." (Review)
A new office suite contains six feature-rich applications including Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base, supports for Open Document Format (ODF) and is compatible with other major office suites.
If you're already familiar with OpenOffice, you will be able to start using LibreOffice quickly and easily as it's a fork of OpenOffice.
Developed and supported by The Document Foundation, LibreOffice is aimed to be free and vendor-independent, with no requirement for copyright assignments.
"Covers the basics of office document creation: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, a desktop database and allows you to save your documents in many choices of file formats so you'll have no problem exchanging documents with MS Office.
All of the modules are easy to learn and if you've ever used any other office software, it's a doddle. It is also extendable via extensions" (Review)
"Easy to adapt to, especially since the interface is similar to that found in Word and WordPerfect. Its abilities include cut and paste, highlight, as well as the usual host of common formatting tools, annotation and checking spelling in many languages.
Besides being able to save to Word format, its own proprietary file format is available. A plugin can be installed to open OpenDocument formats. Sharing documents is possible with the integration of AbiCollab Web service." (Review)
More than a viewer for pdf and other document formats including postscript, djvu, tiff, chm, dvi, xps, odf and so on. It can be used on both KDE and GNOME desktop environments, with features for annotations, highlighting, drawing lines and shapes, adding textboxes and stamps, selecting and saving a part of documents as text or in an image format.
A document viewer for pdf and other document formats including postscript, djvu, tiff and dvi, aiming to replace the multiple document viewers that exist on the GNOME Desktop with a single simple application.
"Re-arranging pages in a pdf document, or merging and splitting pdf files, would be much easier with PDF Shuffler.
After importing one or more pdf files to PDF Shuffler, you are presented with pages in thumbnails so that you can easily merge, re-order or delete the pages, or right-click a thumbnail to rotate or crop a page before exporting to a new pdf file." (Review)
"Excellent task management, with "triage" (presents tasks and events in "now", "later" and "done" categories). Imports external SMTP email accounts, Google calendars and Highrise tasks. Exports calendars and tasks. Email messages can be edited, added to, and sent directly from Chandler." (Review)
"A very good project management tool with a surprisingly good depth of features and accessories—you can put in a percentage complete bar inside the timeline of that particular stage and make it easy to see how far along everything is without a lot of hassle. You can also add team members for a project and assign them to tasks when you set them up.
It also includes a Milestone feature giving an end goal to aim for with a fixed time. Many other project management tools do not support these." (Review)
"In each notebook, you can create folders and pages, as well as sub-folders and sub-pages, and you can re-organize them easily by drag-and-drop. In each page, rich text formatting including colored fonts, bullet point lists and hyperlinks are supported.
Not only can you store images, you can also directly insert a screenshot you take with this application into an opened note." (Review)
"Time for Tomboy Notes if you want to have a useful tool to relate notes and ideas together, with a wiki-like linking system. Features of the program include rich-text formatting, printing or exporting notes to html format, etc." (Review)
"It's the real thing; a professional quality page layout program capable of producing press-ready output. The feature list is impressive; basically everything you want is there including "CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation.
Graphics manipulation is handled via an interface to Gimp. Scribus can also import from and export to programs in the Open Office suite. The user interface is highly functional and the documentation is excellent, with lots of support from the user community." (Review)
"Firefox is safer and browses a tad faster than Internet Explorer (for Windows), very stable and more standards compliant, rich in features such as Private browsing, tabbed browsing and over 2000 free extensions (add-ons) that allow you to customize your experience. It provides the most flexibility, expandability, and features of any browser to date." (Review)
"A cross-platform program designed to be simple, lightweight and easy to use. It's an open source application written in GTK+. Debian and RPM packages are readily available for download and installation.
The program supports pause, resume and queue downloads, and classification of download files, monitors clipboard and integrates with Firefox browser via FlashGot plugin." (Review)
An easy-to-use yet powerful BitTorrent client with an intuitive interface and low memory footprint. The default settings just work but you can take a few clicks to configure advanced features such as watch directories, limit download and upload speed, bad peer blocklists, the web interface and more.
"If you use a browser other than Firefox or require advanced functionality not found in FireFTP, then this is one of great standalone applications, easy to use, feature rich, includes site manager functions." (Review)
"Supports AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, and Zephyr IM networks, available for multiple platforms, simple user interface, functional and lack of popups." (Review)
"An excellent remote control product that allows you to connect to any PC over the internet and drive it as if you were sitting in front of it.
The software is said to have been downloaded more than 60 million times so far, and is widely praised by a number of users of Gizmo's Freeware. Another handy feature is that your grandma won't need admin privileges to run the client application, so making the connection to her PC is going to be pretty easy." (Review)
"A lightweight yet powerful editor designed for experienced programmers and web designers, and works as a general purpose editor as well with the IDE.
Its user interface is complete with toolbars, dialogs and user-customized menus to facilitate insertion of markups and codes. Options are available for writing websites, scripts and programming codes in many programming and markup languages, with many other useful features." (Review)
You just need to remember one single master password to access many user names, passwords and other private information saved in one single database. Features include defining titles and icons, grouping and sorting entries, and generating secure passwords.
The database is encrypted either with AES or Twofish encryption algorithm using a 256 bit key and uses a file format that is compatible with KeePass Password Safe for Windows.
"Fastest ratings, uses green/yellow/red ratings and 'people' reliability icons, multiple rating categories to help you evaluate websites, fantastic warning screen to empower users to avoid potentially bad websites before interacting with them." (Review)
"(Previously known as JAP) it's my top choice and a Java application that performs the role of a local (PC based) proxy server that redirects browser requests via the JonDo network. This allows the user to configure their choice of any browser rather than requiring a change to Opera." (Review)
"A great 2D Sandbox Game with Fun Physics and many options to create things. You can invent anything you can think of: machines, towers, cars, abstract fantasy stuff, etc. Start from scratch or choose from a few previously made inventions.
Get inspired by all the Youtube videos and take a glimpse at the well made Tutorial Section of the Site (how to create cars, catapults etc)." (Review)
"With this program, you can play against the GNU Chess engine or lots of other chess engines, such as the Crafty engine. You can also play Internet chess by connecting to the FICS servers.
It allows for saving games in the PGN, EPD and FEN chess file formats so that you can always return to continue with the games or analyze them. It also offers opening books and other useful features including undo moves, hint and spy modes, sound and animation effects." (Review)
"a well designed open source Chinese Chess application with highly configurable user interface and multi engines for you to choose from. You can also easily connect to multi remote Xiangqi servers to play the game online." (Review)
"A good alternative game site with minimum advertisements, features 36 tiny screen shots in each page from a library of more than 800 free online games. A click on each tiny screen shot brings you to the game selected." (Review)
"Designed with colorful 3D rendered penguin animations and 15 stereo sound effects, Frozen Bubble comes with editable 100 levels for 1-player game, or hours and hours of 2-player game. You can also choose to have multi-player game over the local area network or Internet.
Play this game with the left or right key to aim your shot and up key to fire. Hone your skills in speed and accuracy before the bubbles get frozen!" (Review)
An open source program allows you to generate sudoku puzzles in five different and configurable difficulty levels. It also includes a solver and an analyzer to help you solve the puzzles.
While playing the game, you can select to view a summary of solving techniques and solution paths. When you click on a solution path, it highlights the steps on the corresponding grid to help you analyze the game. (Review)
"Described as fun over realism by the creators, the game has fast paced, intense game-play. Urban Terror doesn't throw realism to the wind mind you, but rather tries to enhance game-play with elements like powerslides and wallhops.
Five different game types, over a thousand servers, plenty of players to go around and no waiting for people to show up." (Review)
"An extremely polished Breakout Clone features a two-player mode (local or over the internet or LAN), fine animations and graphics, excellent controls, the ability to save a game, a level editor, and a turbo key.
This game gets regular Level Set updates. The fun continues well beyond when you have mastered the 50+ levels." (Review)