Internet and Communication
Chrome is our favorite on all three platforms this year. It’s fast, powerful, syncs everything, and has an incredible extension library. The version that comes with your distribution may be its open-source cousin, Chromium, which has all the same advantages. (One minor difference: you have to install the flash plugin separately if you want it, although your distro probably has a tool to make that easy.) That said, Firefox is also a great option if it’s what you’re used to.
We still think Pidgin is the best IM client around on Linux, despite the fact the Ubuntu developers (and others) have ditched it for programs like Empathy. Not only does it support a ton of IM protocols and features, but it has a pretty sweet extension library that lets you do just about anything you want with it. If you’re using GNOME shell, Empathy does have some nice integration options, though, so it’s worth a look too.
Skype and Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts beats Skype on Linux hands-down, but only because Skype stillisn’t available for modern 64-bit architectures. Unfortunately, most people use Skype for their video chat needs, which means someone in your life—friends, family, or other—is going to want to video chat with you on it one day. Use Hangouts if you can, but figure out those Skype install issues now so you can keep it in your pocket for when you need it.