Top 20 Apps for GNOME Fans

Tuesday Aug 24th 2010 by Matt Hartley
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Leading Linux downloads to improve the GNOME desktop’s speed and efficiency.

With so much focus on how one desktop environment compares with another, it's easy to lose focus on what really matters here – the applications we use each and every day.

With this in mind, I’ll highlight twenty great applications I like to use on the GNOME desktop.

1) Geany – Gedit, among other GTK text editors, are all fine and dandy. But what about when you want something with a bit more kick to it? Geany is a lightweight Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that provides all the functions of a good text editor, in addition to features one might find with similar alternatives. The big features here include code folding and syntax highlighting.

2) Banshee – Officially, it's not a GNOME project, but its roots are very close to GNOME regardless. At the end of the day, I've been using Bashee for so long that it's simply my preferred media player when it comes to music and podcasts. Bundled with playlist management and the device syncing options, it's a great option for folks such as myself -- despite the expected grief I’ll receive for including it.

3) Inkscape - Not all vector graphic editors are created equal. More importantly, you don't have to spend a bucket of money on a proprietary product to be able to produce high-end, great looking vector graphic results. SVG graphics have never been more accessible than with Inkscape.

4) Gimp or The GIMP – To graphic pros, I realize that this may not seem like much of a Photoshop alternative. Yet to individuals looking for most of the functionality found in proprietary apps like Photoshop, using Gimp is really not that big of a leap once you have gotten yourself past any perceived learning curve. From filters to effects, Gimp is one awesome photo editing app.

5) gThumb – Sometimes you simply want to view and perhaps make simple edits to an image before sending it on its way. In addition to its image viewing options, gThumb also makes for a decent photo organizer and to a lesser degree, editor. Speaking exclusively for myself, I tend to use gThumb for quick cropping of photos more than anything. It loads fast and I can crop in just half a second.

6) BloGTK – If you're managing multiple blog accounts across various web platforms, then I'd say that you might want to consider looking into BloGTK. Now Ubuntu users may find there to be some issues with it not running right, but it should work great on other distros while the bugs are worked out. The functionality of being able to quickly and easily post to multiple blog accounts from one location is very attractive. And BloGTK is one such app that makes this possible.

7) Empathy – Definitely one of those applications you either love or hate, as may people may still prefer Pidgin. I happen to be in the camp of users who enjoy using Empathy for my instant messaging needs. I am especially happy with the LAN feature that allows me to simply "see" anyone who is using the same app on my LAN, without needing to add them. Very cool for small business environments.

8) Gpass – For myself, little is more annoying than a forgotten password. And with as many as most people use today, it's really easy to become overwhelmed trying to remember them all despite our best efforts. Thankfully we have Gpass to make managing these passwords a bit easier. Gpass goes a few steps further though, by not only providing you the tools to manage your passwords, but also giving you the means to generate them as well.

9) Liferea – There is no rule out there that RSS readers for desktop Linux users must all look the same. And it's clear that the developers behind Liferea understood this with the application's own development. It’s great for adding some quick RSS feeds or even importing huge OPML files from other sources. Whatever the content source, chances are that Liferea is perfect for the job.

10) Totem – Because there is a world beyond MPlayer, Totem is the perfect solution for your video viewing needs when going with VLC seems a bit overkill. The single best feature I have found with Totem is how it handles multiple video files. For instance, if I highlight five video podcast files on my desktop, then open it up with Totem, they're all queued up and ready to go. This makes creating a quick playlist with Totem a snap.

11) KINO – My first video editing experience on the Linux desktop years ago, Kino has always had a special spot in my heart for two very important reasons. First, it's always been among the most stable of all of the Linux video editors. Second, I am able to access dvgrab directly from within Kino's GUI. To my knowledge, Kino was the first Linux editor to provide direct dvgrab access. While the usage for this app is a little "odd," it's generally simple to use once you get used to it.

12) OpenShot video editor – A definite newcomer to the video editing world on the Linux platform, OpenShot was a needed alternative to Kino for those looking to a GTK based solution. Providing a more standard means of editing video, OpenShot is fast becoming my video editor of choice when I’m on the GNOME desktop. Plenty of desktop effects and control, I have yet to have a single worthwhile complaint with it to date.

13) Gwget2 – It's surprising how many people out there are not taking advantage of the wonderful world of wget. I suppose it would possible that it's due to the lack of a GUI and need to use the terminal for such things, so this is where Gwget2 comes into play. Not only does this application put a friendly face to the trusted wget tool, you will also find it can detect whether you are downloading a multimedia or HTML file, right out of the gate.

14) Gnome PPP – While most of us thankfully enjoy the wonders of broadband Internet, there are still a lot of people out there who are stuck with dial-up. Even though the project is widely considered as "dead," the fact remains that Gnome PPP still works and dial-up users appreciate the nice front end to Wvdial.

15) Evince – I include this for the simple reason that Adobe Acrobat is worse than just about anything else out there for PDF handling. Evince is fast, stable and supports PDF files easily without missing a beat. While the software does support other formats as well, it's best known for its handling of those pesky PDF files we need to open from times to time.

16) Ekiga – Before Skype, there was SIP. With SIP came great applications such as Ekiga. Thanks to some strong partnerships, Ekiga allows you to choose which company you want as a "phone" carrier whereas Skype dictates this to you. PC-to-Phone calls have never been so easy on the Linux desktop.

17) Dia – Stable, easy to use diagram creation is no longer something that is only available for proprietary operating systems. Now users of the GNOME desktop can enjoy this functionality with a simple Dia installation. Despite this being a bit of a learning curve if you're already used to another program, for new users, it's a fairly straight forward experience when creating UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, etc.

18) Vino-server – Remote desktop on your LAN need not be a time consuming headache. Despite being someone who prefers X11 forwarding through an SSH tunnel due to its strong security protections, I have found using Vino-serveron a secured LAN provides a safe enough environment for casual access to a remote desktop. And for GNOME-based desktops like Ubuntu, everything you need is already built right in for easy access.

19) Orca – It's been said that user accessibility in Linux leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the time, however, this is said by individuals who have not taken the time to explore what Orca has to offer. From speech to Braille to magnification, Orca offers the bulk of what people need from their desktop environment from an accessibility stand point. The contributions in recent years to the Orca project have been nothing short of impressive, especially on the speech front.

20) Evolution – The single biggest thing that keeps me using GNOME is the personal information manager (PIM) known simply as Evolution. Like Banshee, Evolution is a product of Novell but used for the GNOME desktop. Unlike similar PIM suites, Evolutions works with Microsoft Exchange properly and without relying on IMAP, which is a problem for many Exchange users where IMAP is not made available. Contacts, mail and calendar are all made plug-in-play available with Evolution.

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