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This chapter is geared towards intermediate users. Some tech skills are required.

A list of 30 popular Ubuntu apps

Most popular Ubuntu apps

Pre-installed apps

Many great apps come pre-installed with Ubuntu:

Ubuntu apps Description
Ubuntu shotwell Shotwell Photos: import, organise and view your photos.
Ubuntu rhythmbox Rhythmbox Music: play albums, organise audio files, create playlists, listen to podcasts, and access other online media.
Ubuntu totem Totem Videos: view videos.
Ubuntu evolution Evolution Emails: access your emails, calendars, address books and to-do lists.
Ubuntu evince Evince Documents: view file formats such as .pdf, .ps, .xps, .tiff, .djvu, .cbr, .cbz, etc.
Ubuntu empathy Empathy Chat: chat per text, voice & video messages. Proprietary protocols are supported: Google Talk, MSN, IRC, AIM, Facebook, Yahoo, ICQ, etc.
Ubuntu nautilus Nautilus File manager: navigate and manage files.
Ubuntu baobab Baobab Disk usage analyzer: scan device volumes or specific directories and display disk usage.
Ubuntu terminal Terminal The terminal: access an interface to execute text based commands.

Previous chapters explained how to install Firefox, Tor, Protonmail, Thunderbird & Tutanota, Signal, KeepassXC & Authenticators, as well as Veracrypt & Cryptomator. Many more applications are available for Ubuntu. There are two easy ways to install them:

  • The Software Center, which was presented in the previous chapter. It's an app store to search, install, update or remove software. Click on the Applications button on the top left, search for Software and open it. Find an application, read through the description page, hit the Install button and enter the administrator (root) password to proceed.

  • The terminal is another way to install, update or remove software. Open it with the CTRL + ALT + T shortcut, or click on the Applications button on the top left and search for Terminal. For example, the following terminal command installs Firefox: sudo apt install firefox. Voilà!

Here for example some popular apps you might find useful:

Ubuntu apps Description
Ubuntu mousepad Mousepad Text editor: simple, easy-to-use and fast. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install mousepad
Ubuntu libreoffice LibreOffice Office suite: free and open source software to process word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. Fully compatible with Microsoft's formats (.doc, .xls and .ppt). Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install libreoffice
Ubuntu onlyoffice OnlyOffice Office suite: free and open source software to process word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. Fully compatible with Microsoft's formats (.doc, .xls and .ppt). Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or follow OnlyOffice's instructions.
Ubuntu vlc VLC Videos: free open-source multimedia player. Supports most file formats and streaming protocols. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install vlc
Ubuntu mplayer Mplayer Videos: free open-source media player. Supports most file formats. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install mplayer
Ubuntu ffmpeg Ffmpeg Media processing: open source tool to convert and modify different file formats such as .mp4, .avi, .mov, .mkv, .mp3, .wav, etc. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install ffmpeg
Ubuntu gimp gimp Image processing: free and open source alternative to Adobe Photoshop, with plenty of add-ins for additional features. Supports file formats such as .bmp, .gif, .jpeg, .mng, .pcx, .pdf, .png, .ps, .psd, .svg, .tiff, .tga, .xpm, etc. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install gimp gimp-data
Ubuntu audacity Audacity Audio processing: free and open source software to record, sample, edit, convert, analyse and add effects to sound files. Caution: ongoing discussions around adding telemetry to audacity. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install audacity
Ubuntu openshot OpenShot Video processing: free and open source video editor to resize, scale, trim, cut, zoom, transition and add effects to video files. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal commands: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openshot.developers/ppa && sudo apt update && sudo apt install openshot-qt
Ubuntu blender Blender Video processing: free and open source 3D creation suite, including modeling, animation, simulation, rendering, motion tracking and video editing. Installt via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install snapd && sudo snap install blender --classic
Ubuntu steam Steam Gaming: distribution platform for video games. Play thousands of top rated games on your Linux computer. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install steam-installer
Ubuntu pidgin Pidgin Chat: free and open source messaging client. Supports many protocols including MSN, AIM, Yahoo, Jabber, IRC, IRQ, etc. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install pidgin
Ubuntu cheese Cheese Webcam: capture videos and stills from your webcam. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install cheese
Ubuntu gnucash GNUcash Finance: free and open source accounting software for personal and small-business finances. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install gnucash
Ubuntu deluge Deluge Torrent: free and lightweight torrent client. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install deluge
Ubuntu transmission Transmission Torrent: free torrent client. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install transmission
Ubuntu filezilla FileZilla FTP: free FTP client. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or the following terminal command: sudo apt install filezilla
Ubuntu rar Rar, Unrar and Unzip File compression: three small programs to compress or extract archives (.zip, .rar, .tar, etc.). Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or type the following terminal command: sudo apt install rar unrar unzip
Ubuntu bleachbit Bleachbit Maintenance: open source tool to keep the computer decluttered. Free up cache, delete cookies, clear Internet history, shred temporary files, delete logs, and discard junk. Install via the Ubuntu Software Center or type the following terminal command: sudo apt install bleachbit


Ubuntu games

Games

Linux is not perfect. From time to time, you'll run into limitations. For instance, many games aren't released for or compatible with Linux. Fortunately, there are some options.

Steam

Steam offers thousands of top rated games for Linux, as long as you meet the minimum requirements: 1GHz Pention 4 or AMD Opteron processor, 512 MB memory, 5 GB hard drive space, an Internet connection and a graphic card with latest drivers installed. To install Steam, click on the Applications button on the top left of the screen, open the Ubuntu Software Centre, search for Steam and click Install.

Lutris

Lutris is a free and open source gaming platform for Linux. It allows to install thousands of games with little fuss, making Linux gaming a smooth experience.

Before you install Lutris, make sure to have the latest graphic drivers installed. Then, open the terminal with the CTRL + ALT + T shortcut, or click on the Applications button on the top left and search for Terminal. Run the commands below to install Wine, a program used to run Windows applications in Linux:

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386
wget -nc https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/winehq.key
sudo apt-key add winehq.key
sudo apt-add-repository 'deb https://dl.winehq.org/wine-builds/ubuntu/ focal main'
sudo apt update
sudo apt install --install-recommends winehq-stable

Now, install Lutris:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lutris-team/lutris
sudo apt update
sudo apt install lutris

Once installed, open Lutris, register or login, browse through the catalogue and install new games.


Ubuntu virtualbox

Windows Software

At times, a particular piece of software might not behave as expected on your Ubuntu machine. Running it in Windows might solve the issue. VirtualBox is a great way to achieve this, as it basically runs a small Windows computer inside your Ubuntu machine. More details below.

Show me a step-by-step guide

1. Install VirtualBox

Make sure your Ubuntu device meets the minimum requirements: 4 GB RAM, 20 GB of free drive space. Click on the Applications button on the top left of the screen, open the Ubuntu Software Centre, search for VirtualBox and click Install. Or just open a terminal and run the command sudo apt install virtualbox.

2. Configure VirtualBox

Instructions Description
Download Windows Download a Windows .iso. Choose the 32 or 64 bit version, depending on your computer architecture.
Create a Virtual Machine Start VirtualBox and click on the button New.
Name and operating system Give your Virtual Machine (VM) a name, for example Windows VM. Also select the Operating System (Microsoft Windows) and the version, for example Windows 10 (64-bit).
Memory size Choose how much RAM to allocate to Windows. 2 GB are recommended, 3-4 GB are even better.
Hard disk Select Create a virtual hard disk now to add a virtual hard disk.
Hard disk file type Choose the VDI format for the hard disk file type.
Storage on physical hard disk Choose Dynamically allocated for the hard disk file size.
File location and size Choose where to create the virtual disk. Also, decide how much disk space to allocate to Windows. 32 GB are recommended, more is even better.
Optical Disk Selector Back on the main screen, click on Start to launch the Virtual Windows Machine. In the pop-up dialogue, click on the icon to choose a virtual optical disk file. Click on Add and navigate to the location of the downloaded Windows .iso image. Click on Open, Choose and Start.

3. Install Windows in VirtualBox

Instructions Description
Install Windows After the boot phase, the Windows installation wizard will show up. Follow the on-screen instructions: select a language and keyboard layout, provide a Windows key, accept the terms of use, and so on.
Start working with Windows Log in to the first Windows session in the Virtual Machine. Going forward, you can launch Windows by clicking on the Start button on VirtualBox's main screen.


Ubuntu support

Support

For further details or questions, refer to Ubuntu's documentation, Ubuntu's tutorials, Ubuntu's wiki or ask Ubuntu's community for help.

For gaming questions, reach out to Steam's support, the Lutris forum or the Lutris Reddit community.