10 BEST Linux Applications: Must Have Software (2021)

This is the Top 10 MUST HAVE Linux apps going into the year 2021. All of these applications are free and open source, some do have optional paid features. This list is my opinion of the top Linux applications. Make sure you check out the 2020 video for 10 more great applications, that will be at the end of this article. This list ranges from privacy and security to virtualization and content consumption. There is something here for everyone.

1. Librewolf – Privacy web browser.

Librewolf is a fork of the popular free and open source web browser Firefox. Librewolf is a must have on on any system especially if you’re concerned with privacy and security. Librewolf boats a lack of telemetry, additional private search provides, ad blocking, and enhanced security features. Librewolf is always built from the latest stable source of Firefox. One thing to note with this browser is that it will not keep you logged into online accounts. This is part of their enhanced security feature. Librewolf is best paired with a password manager giving you easy access to all of your account while keeping your data secure. See more on Bitwarden below.

Librewolf can be found as a snap, flatpak, in the AUR, or built from source. Checkout their website for installation instructions. https://librewolf-community.gitlab.io/

2. Joplin – Text and markdown editor.

As described on their official website, Joplin is a free, open source note taking and to-do application, which can handle a large number of notes organized into notebooks. The notes are searchable, can be copied, tagged and modified either from the applications directly or from your own text editor. I use Joplin as a markdown editor and to store information I will need later. One thing that makes Joplin awesome is how easy it is to sync with cloud services like Dropbox or even your own Nextcloud instance. Joplin is great for people who need to work with markdown, students, and much more. They also have a mobile application to access your notes on the go.

You can download Joplin as an .appimage on their website or use the command below in the terminal.

wget -O - https://raw.githubusercontent.com/laurent22/joplin/dev/Joplin_install_and_update.sh | bash

3. Bitwarden – Open source password manager.

Everyone needs a password manager. With recent security breaches and data leaks it’s more important than ever to have different passwords for your different online accounts. Keeping track of all of those passwords can prove to be difficult. Bitwarden is a great option and arguably the best option. Bitwarden is completely free and open source software, giving us the ability to audit the code they’re using in their services. If you don’t want to use their servers you can host your own Bitwarden instance on your own server. Bitwarden has a native Linux application, but the best experience is through their web browser plugin. Bitwarden pairs very well with Librewolf giving you easy access to your online accounts while keeping your data secure.

You can download the .appimage or the extensions from their website. https://bitwarden.com/download/

KDE Connect is the application everyone always wanted without even knowing it. Gone are the days we need to plug in our phones to the computer to do… really anything. KDE Connect allows you to access most of the functions of your cell phone through a simple widget on your Linux desktop. You can see your notifications, text, see battery levels, and find your phone. In addition, you can control your desktop computer through your phone, execute commands, and easily transfer files to and from your devices. Nowadays the only reason I plug my phone into anything is to charge it thanks to this wonderful tool. Unfortunately, this is only available for Android devices, but you’re not limited to Linux as this will work on MacOS and Windows machines.

For information on installation and usage checkout the KDEConnect Wiki page. https://community.kde.org/KDEConnect

5. MailSpring – Modern email client with tracking features

MailSpring has quickly grown to be my personal favorite tool on my Linux machine. Most email clients out there look as if they were developed in 2003. Mailspring changes all that giving us a elegant and modern user interface with some features that I cannot live without. As someone who runs a business it is helpful when Mailspring lets me know when others open my emails and clicks on any links in those emails. On top of all that they have wonderful theming options and many more features. The only real negative to this application is that you are required to have an account to use the application. There are talks to make this optional and if you really don’t like this there is a forked for mailspring-libre package you can find in the AUR. Checkout the video below for a full rundown.

You can download MailSpring as an .appimage, but there is a .rpm and .deb option as well. Mailspring – The best free email app

6. bpytop – Advanced terminal based system monitor.

There are tons of systems monitors out there, but non have impressed me more than bpytop. bpytop is a resource monitor that shows usage and stats for processor, memory, disks, network and processes. It is a python port of bashtop making it much faster and more responsive. When I run server I make sure bpytop is installed to easily monitor the system. Check out the video below to see an overview of the 3 best terminal system monitors including bpytop.

Arch-based installation:

sudo pacman -S bpytop

Debian-based installation:

sudo apt install bpytop

For more installation options checkout their github: GitHub – aristocratos/bpytop: Linux/OSX/FreeBSD resource monitor

7. Lutris – Play your games on Linux.

Lutris is an essential tool for Linux gamers. As described on their website, “Lutris is an Open Source gaming platform for Linux. It installs and launches games so you can start playing without the hassle of setting up your games. Get your games from GOG, Steam, Battle.net, Origin, Uplay and many other sources running on any Linux powered gaming machine.” Steam is doing much better with native Linux support, but Lutris is here to fill in the gaps. I’m not much of a gamer, but I’ve used Lutris a few times. Most often to play games from my GOG library. If you’re at all interested I’d recommend checking out the Empure Earth games. They’re wonderful RTS games.

Checkout there download page for options. Download Lutris

8. Fluent Reader – Modern RSS Reader

Fluent Reader is a modern, beautiful, free and open source RSS feed reader that is natively available on Linux. This application is built with Electron, React, and Fluent UI. In addition to full Linux support there is a Windows version. Like email clients most RSS reader look like they were designed when Myspace was the go to social platform. Fluent reader changes all that. This a an application that got me into RSS feeds and really helped clear up my bookmark toolbar in my web browser.

My Linux RSS Feeds:
https://itsfoss.com/rss, https://omgubuntu.co.uk/feed, https://forum.manjaro.org/c/announcements.rss, https://frontpagelinux.com/feed, https://9to5linux.com/feed

9. VM VirtualBox – Best Virtualization Solution

VirtualBox is a wonderful tool that any Linux user must have on their system. VirtualBox essentially allows you to run a full, dedicated, and independent operating system within it’s own window. This gives many benefits such as testing different distributions and environments, running Windows within Linux, and other virtualization needs. One of the best features of VirtualBox is the snapshots features. This will allow you to create a snapshot of your operating system as is and test anything you’d like. You can then easily restore snapshots and make it as if any changes never happened. Many of the videos that I record are done within VirtualBox as to not make any changes on my primary system. When installing VirtualBox make sure you install the current packages to work with the kernel version on your system.

Here are all the ways to download and install VirtualBox: Linux_Downloads – Oracle VM VirtualBox 1

10. Ardour – Professional Audio Production (ft. unfa)

Ardour is a hard disk recorder and digital audio workstation application that runs on Linux, macOS, FreeBSD and Microsoft Windows. Its primary author is Paul Davis, who was also responsible for the JACK Audio Connection Kit. Ardour is intended to be a digital audio workstation software suitable for professional use. (source) I’m not an audio professional, but I do use Ardour for voice recordings and quick edits. Checkout the video below from unfa!

You will need to build from source to get the non-trail version. GitHub – Ardour/ardour: Mirror of Ardour Source Code

Be sure to watch the video at the top of this page to discover addition honorable mentions!

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