Unlike Windows and OS X, Linux isn’t one cohesive entity. There are a ton of different distributions based on Linux, with different desktop environments to choose from and different apps already built into the system. There’s more than one way to build a happy Linux machine, so don’t fret if your favorite is missing! In many cases, we’re highlighting a few standouts in each category, so you can decide which one is the best fit for your system.
We love app launchers and the speed they bring to our workflow, and they can do a lot more than just launch apps. If you’re using Ubuntu’s Unity interface or the GNOME Shell, you can probably skip this, as they have a lot of app launcher functionality built right in. But for those on other desktop environments, we recommend at least checking out Synapse for your app launching and other needs. Alternatively, GNOME Do is still available for download, and if you’re really a minimalist, you might like dmenu. KDE users have the handy KRunner built in as well.
Kate and Geany
When the built-in Gedit just doesn’t cut it, Kate and Geany will bring some more advanced coding and development features to the table. They’ve got a similar feature set, but Kate is our favorite text editor, providing syntax highlighting, code collapsing, on-the-fly spell checking, a vi-like input mode, and even code autocompletion. If you need more than the built-in editors can provide, Kate and Geany will make you happy. If you want something even more hardcore than these, check out Eclipse or Sublime Text 2. And if you’re pining for Notepad++, check out Notepadqq.
Text expansion is one of the greatest improvements you can make to your productivity. Think of any tedious typing you do during the day—addresses, canned email responses, bits of code, or anything else—and imagine being able to type it all with just a few keystrokes. That’s what text expansion does, and it can save you hours of typing. There aren’t a ton of text expansion apps for Linux, but AutoKey fits the bill well enough. You’ll need some Python skills for the more advanced snippets, but right now, it’s the best we’ve got.
Chances are, LibreOffice comes with your Linux distribution, but just in case it doesn’t, we’ve added it here. From documents to spreadsheets to presentations and more, LibreOffice has the tools you need to get things done, especially if you’re sending files back and forth with people who use Microsoft Office.