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Ask HN: What are your favorite Linux applications?
70 points by manaskarekar on Oct 12, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 51 comments
Inspired by the thread about Mac OS, I'm curious what are some really well done applications for linux.

I know there will be a ton of CLI apps/tools, which are welcome, but I would love to hear some really nicely done GUI applications as well.

Sublime Text, Sublime Merge, ripgrep come to mind.

For all cli apps, the importance of cli itself can't be understated. While there are only a few cli programs available to ALL unix users (grep/ps/awk/sed/xargs/etc), the value of the pipe are one of the defining features of CLI that amplify any program made to work in CLI.

A command I often run: `ps aex | grep $common_denominator | awk '{print $1}' | xargs kill` to deal with multiprocess testing runs demonstrate this well. The pipe character is what uniquely enabled unix shells to be the great software it is that GUI have almost no real way to replicate.

As Awk is a pattern-matching language, you can simplify it to something like this:

  ps aux |awk '/what/ {print "kill " $2}'
This will give you a list of kill commands you can review, before piping to |sh to shake off those processes :)

And when what you try to do sequentially might take too long, you can consider throwing GNU Parallel [1] in the pipemix!

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_parallel

> ps aex | grep $common_denominator | awk '{print $1}' | xargs kill

That looks pretty equivalent to:

  pkill -f $common_denominator
I suppose this is less portable, though.

OS: Debian 10 + XFCE

Terminal: highly-customized Terminator bound to F1 + XFCE Terminal for "floating" instances

Text/Programming: Sublime Text, Intelij IDE, nano (yeah yeah bring your hate vim users - I know it well and I'm not a fan), Meld

Markdown/docs: Typora (TRY THIS OUT IT'S AMAZING.)

Browsing: Chrome, Chromium, FF, Brave (in that order); Postman for API work, Charles Proxy for reverse-engineering work

Communication: Hangups (CLI), Discord

Containers/Virtualization: Docker, VMWare Workstation (I run a full Win10 LTSB underneath with all quick-access to my Adobe Creative Suite, saves time not having to switch to the MBP)

Transfer: Qbittorrent, Filezilla

Misc: Remmina for RDP, Kazam for screen recording, pgAdmin4 for working with my Postgres DBs, ncspot (CLI) for Spotify client; KeePass2 for password management in a file-based DB; GParted for partitioning

Ninja edit: Sublime Merge looks amazing... I will be trying this out ASAP.

As an open-source alternative to typora I can suggest Marktext https://github.com/marktext/marktext which I believe is on par with typora features. Don't be alarmed by the fact that it's electron, it's pretty fast either way. And as far as I know typora is electron based too.

+1 for mark-text

I’ve been using Typora for about three years. One of my favorite pieces of software for sure.

I prefer Mark Text because is powerful and free as in freedom :)

Haha, I get puzzled faces when I use nano too, but to quickly edit a file, it's actually less keystrokes than VIM. It's just not as l33T.

Try out Dbeaver instead of pgAdmin for database administration. It's a much, much better tool.

Huh. I've never run into a 'Linux app' that couldn't be authenticated at install-time. Different.

Trying to name some more obscure ones that I love.

Tizonia is a CLI music player that can play music from your Google Music library. I like it bc I don't have to use a browser.

Pianobar is a CLI client for Pandora, but I can run this on a Mac too so not sure if it counts. Same no browser required benefit.

I love CLI music players bc they help you extend battery life vs browser based.

Gpaste is a clipboard manager. It even stores images copied to the clipboard.

Not sure if it counts but when I do a rectangle select screenshot in Ubuntu, it puts it in the clipboard (instead of putting a file on the desktop like Mac does) and then I can just paste it in the Jira ticket / GitHub pull request / Slack / etc.

Probably a bit more that deserve mention that I am not considering right now.

Image output destination is configurable on Mac. Cmd + Shift + 5, then it's under options in the bar. I don't recall all the options but it's at least file/clipboard.

⌘⇧5 (CMD + Shift + 5) doesn't do anything on my macOS 10.13.6 system, ⌘⇧⌃4 (CMD + Shift + Ctrl + 4) is the default shortcut to take a rectangle screenshot and store it in the clipboard.

⌘⇧5 was introduced back in 10.14.0 Mojave.

Taking a rectangle select screenshot using ⌘⇧⌃4 (CMD + Shift + Ctrl + 4) will put the screenshot in your clipboard on macOS

flameshot for screenshots - https://github.com/lupoDharkael/flameshot

almost everything is perfect.

Amazing, thank you!

The only 3 GUI applications I use regularly are Emacs, Firefox and XTerm (which, like Emacs, has amazingly low latency). All via a tiling window manager (StumpWM).

I also use Signal Desktop, which is a rather plain Electron app.

For some imaging tasks, GIMP and Inkscape are great. GIMP gave birth to GTK, one of the two major Linux GUI toolkits.

Since the desktop ecosystem is very fragmented, I don't think there are any great GUI applications in Linux. On Macs, things are declining now too. A lot of the GUI innovation is happening on mobile.

In Linux, niceties come from CLI and whole OS, like Nix.

I have used emacs since before Linux and window systems existed. Emacs is a small windows manager like it is nearly everything else. Nowadays I only use a tiny fraction of its functionality, because I do run a window manager and a web browser. Still emacs is one of the first programs I install on every system. On embedded systems where emacs is not feasible I try to get remote editing via TRAMP https://www.emacswiki.org/emacs/TrampMode working.

Does TRAMP mode offer any advantages to sshfs?

- 1 less step (just open the remote file directly, rather than running "sshfs" and then opening the file)

- If you execute shell commands from emacs -- these will be executed on the remote machine when editing thru tramp

- Tramp is not limited to ssh, but also allows emacs to access files in docker containers, as different users (e.g. root), in S3/GDrive/etc via the rclone backend, etc.

Clipboard Manager: copyq

Also for Windows and Mac. Gives you great sanity for all the clipboards, clipboard history. Fuzzy search in clipboard history

Has a GUI and CLI

Baobab: Disk usage Analyzer https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Baobab

Atril: Pdf Viewer, forked from Evince from the Gnome 2 days IIRC.

Base 16 Colors: https://github.com/chriskempson/base16

Unetbootin/TuxBoot: Creating bootable drives.

gnome-do: Alfred/Spotlight (MacOS) like quicklauncher. Used to use this but now I've just defaulted to using Alt+F2 (remapped to Super + Space keys) to launch apps. https://do.cooperteam.net

Zim : "A desktop wiki" https://zim-wiki.org

syncthing, sublime text and marktext would be my favourites, but you can get them on every other platform so I don't really think of them as Linux apps

some of my fav linux only apps would lutris for managing your steam and gog library from a single gui

neofetch is a nice way to get a fancy readout of your system specs https://github.com/dylanaraps/neofetch

also just reading about ansible the last few days and i can see that becoming an instant fav for quickly setting up my computers. if I can get my head around it that is

Blender 2.8 is a work of art. ffmpeg is terrific. Pretty happy with cinnamon desktop.

GNOME Browser offers an extraordinary browsing experience, and most people seem to ignore it — probably because it lacks extension support, which I don't really care about.

Being part of the GNOME project is also follows the GNOME design and maintain consistency with the rest of the desktop environment — a must for me.

Aside from that, I mostly like applications that follow the GNOME HIG, like GNOME Terminal, Geary, Polari, and Fractal.

My favorite text editor after vim is still Gedit, and it is a shame I can't use it on macOS ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Two things that keep me away from gnome browser. 1. The tab handling is awful, would be great if they added vertical tab support. 2. Like firefox, it doesn't play with dark desktop themes, you end up with text areas with black text on a black background.


It wasn't mentioned here yet, and having used GitEye on Linux before and SourceTree on Windows, and seeing coworkers use GitKraken, I think SmartGit is by far the best Git GUI client of them.

I know the Git CLI is popular, but most people I've seen begin to struggle with everything beyond a simple pull and push. With a Git GUI client things like squashing commits, interactive rebases, 3-way merges etc. are discoverable and intuitive. No reading of the documentation required.

Text based diff is fine for basic use cases. When the results are too confusing to grasp what really has changed or I want 3-way diff meld can do wonders. Unfortunately it does not scale well and chokes on huge files (like Yocto build logs). Sometimes I use kdiff3. Wasn't there a 3rd one? Obviously I haven't used it for a long time, because I can't remeber it now.

If I had to choose one application as my favorite, it'd have to be xbill. I can't explain why. And I'm not sure I'd want to.

ranger [1] is not mentioned yet. I had never used a console based file manager prior to starting using this 3 months back and I have stopped using Dolphin (I am on KDE) now.

[1] https://ranger.github.io/

There are quite a lot of KDE apps which aren't that well known which together cover a large swathe of desktop usage and are quite nice.

Most of them are here: https://kde.org/applications/

Docker runs native. You get instant file sync.

On Mac my options are dinghy or docker-sync, both of which drive me insane by either being too slow (former) or not syncing files fast enough or good enough (latter).

This is probably the number one reason that I love Linux for development these days.

Freecad and Meshlab for 3D editing. KeepassXC for password management. Gnome Shell extensions: - KdeConnect (phone sync/remote access) - Argos (script based utilities for top bar)

Shutter is my favourite screen shot tool, quick selection of content and easy mark-up

Kazzam is a simple (tiny) screen capture app, which does one thing and does it well.

Some of my favorites already spoken for: but +1 for SublimeText with SublimeMerge and Typora. Also cannot do without SecureCRT and SecureFX

sox - girlfriend teaches a dance class and needed a slower version of some of the music; she was impressed as all get-out that sox could slow the tempo without lowering the pitch (using fancy Fourier math)

Krita and Kdenlive are both great.

I think packages management tools, like apt, dpkg, yum, dnf, are pretty useful.


VNote an excelent app to taking notes

Apps from KDE are great. Dolphin is awesome.

KDE connect

calibre is a great app for reading EPUB, PDF, etc

vim vim and lastly vim





bat (just a better cat)









GUI: stellarium, conky

There are definitely more. These are what I could remember now.

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