The Ubuntu Software Center is stuffed full of applications for Ubuntu, and a whole world of third-party applications exist elsewhere. Sorting the digital chaff from the digital wheat can be a daunting task.
To give you a head-start here are our top Ubuntu app suggestions. It’s not an exhaustive list, and there are plenty of awesome apps we haven’t mentioned, but these will get you started.
Gwibber no longer comes installed by default in Ubuntu 13.04. Instead a Social Lens is on offer. But you can’t tweet or post status updates from it, so if you’re an avid social-media mogul you’ll want to install a dedicated desktop app.
Gwibber’s successor is the Ubuntu-Touch orientated ‘Friends-app’. While it’s available to from the Ubuntu Software Center it’s not the most featured or complete app available. See our review for a bit more information.
To try it yourself hit the install button below.
Other Twitter apps available through Ubuntu’s app store include the slick Hotot and the powerful, configurable Turpial (pictured above in single column mode).
Non-Software Center options include Birdie – a cute twitter app in development and just about stable enough for daily use. Power users and fans of the multi-column layout owe it to themselves to try, arguably, the best Twitter client available for Linux: Polly.
Skype is also readily available on Ubuntu.
Google Chrome is the most popular web-browser on the planet (if we ignore the luddites chained to Internet Explorer) and for good reason. It’s fast, featured, and is now the only way to get an updated version of Adobe Flash on Linux.
Installing it easy, just head over to the Google Chrome download page (link below) and select the .deb installer option. Once fully downloaded simply duble-click on the .deb to begin installation.
If that sounds a bit too much like hard-work you could plump for Chromium, an open-source version of Google Chrome. It doesn’t come with any of the handy bits built in, so no Flash or PDF reader, but it is available straight from the Ubuntu Software Center.
Other top picks include the lightweight GNOME-orientated browser Web, and the ever-reliable Opera.
Geary is the new ‘go-to’ e-mail client for anyone who wants the ease of use of Gmail but in a desktop app. It supports multiple accounts from all IMAP-supported web-mail services; shows threaded conversations, and integrates nicely with the Ubuntu desktop.
If all you use is Gmail then my top tip would be to use the GMail webapp in Ubuntu (see image above).
Once enabled you get new mail alerts, unread count and more right on the desktop. It’s easy to set up – just visit Gmail in Firefox (or Chromium if you have it installed) and, when prompted, hit the ‘install’ button to enable integration.
Music & Video
If you’re an avid user of cloud music services you can also download the official Spotify for Linux client:
Rdio users should check out a natty new Rdio player for the desktop.
Google Music users can get the most out of the service by following the following guide. It has links to all of the apps needed, including a neat desktop music player supporting Google Play Music.
On the video side of things there is pretty much only one recommendation: VLC.
Steam. ‘Nuff said.
Graphics & Creativity
Ubuntu has a basic screenshot tool of its own by default, but for advanced use try Shutter. It supports timed-snapping, image editing (including the adding of text, arrows and highlights); basic image effects; and uploading to popular image sharing services.
GIMP is the closest thing to Photoshop available on Linux – and it’s free! There’s a bit of a learning curve but a wealth of online guides, tips, and tutorials to get you started.
For video editing there are plenty of options, the most reliable of which is PiTiVi. PiTiVi supports basic editing, lets you add some neat-looking effects to your videos, then export them to online sites like Vimeo and YouTube.
Nitro is a fantastic to-do manager that is available not only on Ubuntu but Windows, OS X and Google Chrome. It can sync your to-do lists using Dropbox or Ubuntu One. So no-matter where you are or what you’re using you’ll have access to your tasks.
You’ll find Nitro on the Ubuntu Software Center. While it is a free application you will need to an Ubuntu One account to install it.
If you’re going to be spending a lot of time infront of your computer screen you should grab RedShift from the Software Center.
This handy tool will adjust the temperature (colour-wise, not heat-wise) of your monitor or laptop screen over the course of the day. This, it’s claimed, will help prevent your eyes from being overly strained.
When you really need to knuckle down and concentrate on writing you’ll want to reach for a so-dubbed “distraction free text editor”. FocusWriter is available on Ubuntu for free, and supports a wide array of customisation options so you can tailor the perfect productive environment.