One topic all Linux users can agree on is the quantity and quality of open-source software available for the platform. Labeling anything as the "best" always invites debate, but there are a number of open-source software programs of such quality that few Linux users would argue with their inclusion on this list.
If you live in fear of the Windows blue screen of death, you will love Ubuntu; it is the leading open-source Linux operating system, developed by Canonical Ltd. The first version of Ubuntu was released in 2004 and was rather primitive. Since then, however, Ubuntu has evolved into a sophisticated, flexible platform used on desktops, smartphones and tablets and is even able to integrate web streaming on your television.
It is often said that Ubuntu is a free operating system, and it is – for the most part. You can download, install and use the operating system for free, but Canonical does charge for technical assistance, which is a small price to pay for a stable system which continually evolves.
The most common complaint about Linux software is that it often does not work straight out of the box. The user (that would be you) usually must configure the software, and download drivers and add-ons to obtain full functionality. Linux Mint addresses this problem head-on. An operating system very similar to Ubuntu, the software works as soon as it is downloaded. This immediate availability makes Mint an excellent introduction to Linux and is a prime choice in the open-source community for newcomers.
There is a potential downside to using Linux Mint on certain devices, because Mint uses Ubuntu as its foundation and adding Mint code to pre-existing Ubuntu code creates a large footprint. For that reason, you must have at least five gigs of free memory available in order to use Mint. Many off-the-shelf computers only come with four.
Even though Linux systems are inherently more secure than the competition, common sense still suggests you should maintain different passwords and usernames for each of your online accounts in order to minimize potential security issues. That’s where KeePassX comes in.
KeePassX is the Linux version of the popular Windows program of the same name. It’s used to store login information for your various accounts securely in one place, which you can then access with one username and password. The program uses a double authentication process in combination with encryption to secure your information. KeePassX is a relatively simple program, but an invaluable one.
Microsoft makes a small fortune from its Office Suite. LibreOffice is the open-source equivalent for Linux users, and many users believe it’s even better than Office. A spin-off from the popular program OpenOffice, LibreOffice provides the same type of programs (word processors, spreadsheets, etc.) with two added advantages. First, the software allows you to save documents in a wide variety of formats, including Word and even WordPerfect; second (and perhaps most importantly), you can download it for free, unlike the mega-priced Microsoft Office. This makes LibreOffice a must-have program for Linux users.
Scraping The Surface
“The best” software for Linux is a subjective determination, of course, and this list just scrapes the surface of the outstanding open-source software that’s available. Nevertheless, this should give you a good start on making the most of Linux.