Top 10 Programs for Linux Nerds

Linux was once the, "little engine that could" of the software market. Linux spent its early years in the proverbial caboose behind the behemoths Windows and Macintosh. However, it wasn't long before devoted Linux users developed an array of programs and applications comparable to Microsoft or Macintosh applications, putting Linux on the fast-track to becoming an open-source superstar.

Linux users have just as many programs and applications available as other users, and these programs often rival their Windows and Macintosh compatible cousins. Developers have created a robust and dynamic network of applications designed to make Linux an increasingly prominent operating system for both the home and office. People from all over the world use these programs to enhance their Linux experience, to create or edit data, maintain databases, manipulate graphics, play games or media, browse the Internet, and much more. There are hundreds of fully-developed, top-notch applications that revolutionize the Linux experience. Here are a few:


Firefox is the King Midas of all Open Source software. It has made the jump from fringe-focused software to one of the most commonly downloaded web browsers. It is a free, open-source browser that is regarded as one of the most user-friendly and flexible available. Firefox is a cornerstone of open-source, Linux-friendly applications, setting a standard for reliability and versatility.


Like Firefox, Apache needs little introduction. Apache is the most widely-used web server on the Internet. It supports both Pearl and PHP and is the life-blood of UNIX-based operating systems. Its many powerful add-ons rival that of any Microsoft product.


Freespire is poised to overtake Synaptic/Adept as a program that increases the efficiency of software installation on Linux systems. It allows users to choose which proprietary codecs, drivers, and applications are included or installed, and there is no limitation set on that choice.

According to the Freespire community, Freespire is:

  • Freedom of choice
  • Easy yet powerful
  • Exceptional "fit and finish"
  • Linux for the masses
  • An active community
  • Worldwide language support
  • A good citizen of the broader Linux community
  • Baseline for Linspire

Open Office

Open Office is the free, altruistic cousin of Microsoft Office; it is the program that keeps giving. It is a phenomenal program without pretension, giving users the ability to create spreadsheets, documents, and other presentations. Open Office also reads and edits MS Office documents. If anything, it is one of the most useful programs for even novice Linux users. Open Office brings familiarity of Microsoft-ish products to the Linux frontier.

Open Office Features:

  • Writer -  a word processor that can be used for anything
  • Calc - a useful spreadsheet that allows you to calculate and present data
  • Impress - a fast and powerful way to create multimedia presentations
  • Draw - allows you to create diagrams, 3D illustrations, and everything in between
  • Base - allows users to manipulate databases, modify tables, forms, queries, and reports
  • Math - creates mathematical equations using a graphic interface


The appropriately named Konqueror is a program that does it all. Konqueror is a file manager, open source web browser with HTML 4.01 compliance, a universal viewing application, and a lot more.

Konqueror supports basic file management on local UNIX file systems and is the canvas for all the latest KDE technology. This killer program is capable of embedding read-only viewing components within it to view documents without ever launching another application.


iPodLinux is venturing into porting Linux onto the ubiquitous music monster that is the iPod. So far, the iPodLinux Project has successfully ported a customized uClinux kernel to the iPod and have created an interface affectingly dubbed podzilla. iPodLinux is poised to become one of coolest applications. Tech-soothsayers predict that within the next couple of years as iPodLinux evolves, it will become an intragul component in portable media programs. As a result, Linux's already strong staying power will be well-spoken for.


Named after the Amarok album by Mike Oldfield, AmaroK is quickly becoming everyone's new (and much better) iTunes. AmaroK is more than just a music player; it organizes a library of music into folders by artist, genre, and album. The program can edit tags attached to most music formats, associate album art and attach lyrics. But wait- there's more:

  • AmaroK plays media files in MP3, FLAC, Ogg, WAV, AAC, WMA, Musepack, and nearly 100 more.
  • AmaroK syncs, plays, retrieves, or uploads music to ipods and other digital music players.
  • AmaroK displays artist information via Wikipedia.
  • AmaroK plays Podcasts.

With a host of other features, including Moodbar functionality and Musicbrainz support, AmaroK may soon conquer the media application realm.


With Desktop Cube, Animations, Water, Blur, Trailfocus, and Fading windows, Beryl makes for a dynamic desktop experience. Beryl is a combined window manager and composite manager that uses OpenGL for acceleration. It is highly flexible, extensible, and portable.

Beryl uses flat file backend with almost no gnome dependency. It has a custom theme decorator (Emerald) with features added on a daily basis. Best of all, it's maintained by a community.

Desktop Effects Features:

Scale Effect

  • OS X Expose Effect
  • Live Window Previews
  • Drag and Drop Support

Enhanced Switcher

  • Improved Visual Identification
  • Better Selecting Control

Desktop Cube

  • See Only What You Want
  • Visualize Your Workspace

As well as:

  • Window Animations
  • Transparency, Brightness, and Saturation
  • Gnome Terminal True Transparency
  • Negative Windows


MPlayer surpasses the performance of any Windows media player in quality and performance. MPlayer can read mpg, avi, mov, wav, Real Media, and the latest version of Windows Media Player files. You can even watch television, capture streams from the Internet or tuner card, and recode them with your favorite codec.

Screem HTML/XML Editor

SCREEM is a web developer's dream; its simple interface increases productivity without insulting seasoned coders. Far surpassing Dreamweaver, SCREEM presents raw HTML source in its editor window which allows developers to learn more without the crutch of having WYSIWYG page display. SCREEM uses a text-based editing system which allows developers to use the markup they want. Screem is also an XML editing package.


The DeskbarApplet provides a versatile search interface. Users can type in search terms into the deskbar entry panel and are presented with the search results as you type. Deskbar uses a series of plugins to handle searches and provides a simple interface to manage all plugins.

Linux programs and developers very much remain nestled in a niche community, shunning commercialism in favor of quality. There are hundreds of Linux applications, Applets, and programs out there. But if none tickle your fancy, do what Linus Toravalds did: D.I.Y.

Customize Your Education