My Guide to Open Source Software

Every Linux distribution has an infrastructure to manage software which is different from Windows. All application installations and updates are handled by a their respective Application Management tool (these work a bit like an App Store). If you are from a Windows or MacOSx background, you might be confused how the Linux world handles applications and also you might wonder how you can get the all same functionality you had in Windows, whilst enjoying the freedom Linux offers.

What applications should you install? Later in this article is a list of useful and popular applications that many Linux users enjoy but first let us get familiar with the difference between Open source and proprietary applications.

Open Source Vs Proprietary Software

All your computing requirements can be achieved using open-source software, however proprietary software is available in Linux and it is important to understand the difference.

Proprietary software is owned by the individual or company who developed it and the source code is protected from public scrutiny. Restrictive usage terms and conditions are often applied with user privacy often being exploited.

Software that is not proprietary includes free and open source software (FOSS), it’s usually available at no cost and can be used, distributed and modified by anyone for any purpose and with minimal restrictions. The underlying code for Open Source Software is always available to the users whilst it has other criteria to meet as well. The important thing is that no permissions are required for source code to modified or distributed.

  • Linux is (and always will be) free and open source.
  • Proprietary software is not supported by Linux developers.
  • Some Linux enthusiasts avoid proprietary software in favour of open source software feeling strongly it has no place in Linux.
  • Proprietary software is available on Linux in most cases free of charge.
  • Many Linux distributions do not offer proprietary software out of the box during installation however make it available alongside open source titles in their software repositories. The decision to use is always left to the discretion of each user.
  • In a minority of cases it might difficult to find a preferable open source alternative for a specific proprietary Linux application.

I always try to select natively supported open source applications, however her are some examples of some proprietary software applications and why I choose to install them.

  • Spotify – A music subscription service
  • Steam – Linux gaming platform
  • Latest Nvidia Drivers – To optimize gameplay
  • Pixeluvo – Photo Editor (equivalent to Photoshop)
  • Google Chrome – For casting my desktop onto the TV
  • Non-Free Codecs – To play non-free multimedia formats (MP3/4, Flac, MKV etc)
  • MS Fonts – Document compatibility when collaborating with MS Office users

Useful and popular applications that many Linux users enjoy

In the table below I have provided a list commonly used MS Windows applications with some of their open source counterparts. With thousands of applications to choose from, selecting the right ones for your Linux desktop is a personal choice so doing your own research would be advantageous.

A good source for comparing software applications for Linux is the “alternativeto” website, especially if your coming from MS Windows or Mac OS environment. claims to be a new approach to finding good software. You simply suggest what application you want to replace and they give you great alternatives, based on user recommendations.

Regular visits to the List of Applications page on the Arch Wiki is a MUST if you want a choose what software is right for you. (even if you are not new to Linux

In no particular order



Office Suites

(Microsoft Office)

Web Browsers

E-mail Clients

(MS Outlook)

File Managers

(Windows Explorer)

  • Nautilus,
  • Nemo,
  • Dolphin,
  • Thunar,
  • Caja,
  • Ranger,
  • Pantheon Files


Photoshop, Lightroom etc

Graphics Applications

Adobe Illustrator etc

Music Players

Windows Media Center, WinAmp etc

Sound Editors

Video Players

Video Editors

Text Editors

Notepad, Notepad++

Screen Capture/ Casting

CD/DVD Burning and Transcoders

Nero Burning Rom

BitTorrent Clients


File Renaming (Batch)

  • GPRename,
  • KRname,
  • Picard

Hardrive/SSD Partition/Mount Management

Partition Magic

File Sharing, Sync and Backup

Virtualization + Play Windows Software & Gaming

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