Top 10 Must Have Applications for Ubuntu. (In no particular order). 02/18/08

For all the people who asked what apps I use, these are the ten best applications that I recommend having installed on an Ubuntu based PC. Why? They allow for some eye candy, but most importantly all for a computer that can actually do something valuable – Instead of just looking good πŸ˜‰ And… I like them!

I’m not including OpenOffice as part of the list, because I think that’s a given and a matter of fact! –

Have better applications, disagree?, agree? Say so in the comments section!

1) Compiz/Beyrl – For nice eye candy.


Offers a superior window management environment for your Ubuntu installation. One system used here, with an older video card (GF 6800GT 256MB DDR3 Dual DVI TV PCI-E); but at least I get to experience on of the most exciting GUI interfaces ever. If you’ve not had the chance to use Beyrl/Compiz, see the video below:

[coolplayer width=”340″ height=”260″ autoplay=”0″ loop=”0″ charset=”utf-8″ download=”1″ mediatype=””]

Please keep in mind that the features and functions depend a lot on the type of video card installed. Install guides for Edgy and Feisty can be found here:

Of course, you could try this (below for Dapper) but I’d NOT recommend it unless you are a Linux guru:

Add repositories

sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following…

deb dapper main
deb dapper main

Get the key

wget -O - | sudo apt-key add -

Now Update

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Make Gnome load Xgl instead of Xorg

sudo gedit /etc/gdm/gdm.conf-custom

Add the following at the end under ‘[servers]’


name=Xgl server
command=/usr/bin/Xgl :0 -fullscreen -ac -accel glx:pbuffer -accel xv:fbo -kb

Download the files

sudo apt-get install xserver-xgl compiz-gnome emerald emerald-themes beryl

Run at startup

Go to System ->Preferences ->Sessions ->Startup Sessions and add a new session:



After logging in, you should have a Beryl logo in your taskbar. Use that to configure Beryl (Xgl) settings and effects, and use Emerald to get themes. Also you can disable Xgl by changing the Window Manager to ‘Metacity’.
To download the Emerald themes you might need Subversion:

sudo apt-get install subversion

Download the themes.

Sometimes Xorg conflicts with Xgl for control of the desktop upon logging in. You’ll note your CPU is maxing out and Beryl is not working properly. Try killing Xorg, (CTRL+ALT+Backspace) then see if that helps out after logging in again

2) Amarok – For great sound while I’m working.


In my opinion one of the best designed and thought out music players available. One feature I especially like it the integration of lyrics and that it does sync properly for iPod users.


Easy to install, easy to use, easy on the ears…

sudo apt-get install amarok

3) VLC (VideoLAN) – So I can watch or stream my media.


A video player that can play just about any type of video. I’ve never had to use anything else. It can capture and save streamed video as a file and it can even function as a video stream on your network. That’s sweet!

VLC Videolan

Again, so easy to install:

sudo apt-get install vlc

And… for those using the (dare I say β€œBest”) Firefox browser, there’s even a handy plug in!

sudo apt-get install vlc vlc-plugin-* mozilla-plugin-vlc


sudo apt-get install avahi-daemon
sudo apt-get install avahi-utils

4) Firefox – So I have a web browser that works like a web browser.


While Ubuntu does have Firefox out-of-the-box, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the incredible number of extensions available!


Very easy to install if you don’t have it

sudo apt-get install firefox

5) Jokosher – So I can make my own music mixes.


This is an easy to use, multi-track studio. Record, edit or mix audio and then export. Favorite feature?… the instruments.


Installation on Feisty:

sudo apt-get install jokosher
sudo apt-get build-dep gstreamer0.10-gnonlin

You also need to install the following packages using either Synaptic or at the command line:

  • autoconf
  • automake
  • libtool
  • cvs
  • Then download, build and install gnonlin from CVS. In a console run the following:

    cvs co gnonlin cd gnonlin ./ --prefix=/usr make sudo make install

    This will overwrite the version of gnonlin that came with Feisty. If for some reason there is a problem following this update then the original version can be re-installed by issuing the following command:

    sudo apt-get --reinstall install gstreamer0.10-gnonlin

    Now check that gstreamer is going to load the correct version of gnonlin by running this command:

    gst-inspect-0.10 gnonlin

    If everything worked OK then the version of gnonlin displayed should be

    (Instructions are from here:

    6) GIMPshop – So I can edit graphics faster – Because the regular GIMP interface is terrible πŸ˜‰


    This is a mod of GIMP, that tries to replicate the feel of Adobe Photoshop, to help Photoshop users get a more comfortable feel when using GIMP. Specifically, it modifies the menu structure to more closely match Photoshop’s and changes the program’s terminology to match Adobe’s. I find it a great tool because I am able to use most Photoshop tutorials using this application – One reason why it’s on the β€œBest” list.


    Installation: Uninstall GIMP first (if not, then your GIMPshop might not work).

    Easy Install

    1. Remove all previous GIMP components

    First, open a terminal. Go to Applications->Accessories->Terminal.

    sudo apt-get remove xsane gimp-svg gimp-dbg libgimp2.0-dev gimp gimp-print gimp-helpbrowser mrwtoppm-gimp libgimp-perl gtkam-gimp gimp-ufraw gimp-texturize gimp-dimage-color gimp-dcraw gimp-cbmplugs gimp-data libgimp2.0

    2. Install GIMPShop package (libgimp2.0 is more a pseudo package to prevent programs that require ‘libgimp2.0’ from breaking)

    Replace arch with your Ubuntu installation’s architecture. This will either be i386 or amd64.

    cd ~/
    sudo dpkg -i gimpshop_2.2.11-1_arch.deb
    sudo dpkg --force-all -i libgimp2.0_2.2.11-gimpshop1_arch.deb

    You can ignore any warnings resulting from the libgimp2.0 package.

    3. Tell Synaptic not to update libgimp2.0 to a repository version

    Go in Synaptic, find libgimp2.0, and go to Package->Lock Version.

    Run GIMPshop by selecting Applications->Graphics->The GIMP.

    Change the Shortcut Name

    If you wish to rename The GIMP under the Applications->Graphics menu to GIMPShop, you can do the following:

    1. Install alacarte (if you already have alacarte installed, skip this step)

    sudo apt-get install alacarte

    2. Run alacarte from terminal


    3. Select Graphics, look for The GIMP.

    4. On The GIMP, right click and choose properties. Where it says name, change it to GIMPShop.

    5. Press Close to exit out of the dialog.

    The next time you go to Applications->Graphics, it will say GIMPShop. You can reinstall xsane and such that we removed in the first step. (Don’t install any packages that require the gimp package or things will get screwed up.) xsane, etc. were just going to conflict with our new libgimp2.0, until we told Synaptic to lock it.

    Instructions are from here:

    7) gFTP – So I have a fast, easy, simple way to upload files.


    One of the simplest (and in my mind) best FTP clients. Easy to use, easy to connect and definitely easy to upload files, images, etc. I particularly like the layout, with a dual panel, and that gFTP supports secure protocols.



    sudo apt-get install gftp

    8) APTonCD – For faster disaster recovery (this has saved me a few times).


    When I do something that breaks my system or need to install the same applications on another, I need to get up and running fast. APTonCD does that for me!

    What is it? β€œAPTonCD is a tool with a graphical interface which allows you to create one or more CDs or DVDs (you choose the type of media) with all of the packages you’ve downloaded via APT-GET or APTITUDE, creating a removable repository that you can use on other computers.

    will also allow you to automatically create media with all of your .deb packages located in one especific repository, so that you can install them into your computers without the need for an internet conection.”



    sudo apt-get install aptoncd

    Or go here to read more:

    9) Basket Note Pads – So that I know what I’m supposed to be doing and when.


    It does everything to keep me organized. Notes, dates, documents to edit, people to contact and when… Just read the info here:

    Basket Note Pads


    Download here:

    BasKet Note Pads includes a small script that will guide you trough the process of building and installing BasKet Note Pads.

    Simply extract the downloaded basket archive.

    Open a console window and type:


    The installer should do everything.

    If the process does not succeed or some libraries are missing or cannot be found, try to install the *-dev or *-devel packages of your distribution: they contain library (X, QT, KDE…) sources needed to compile from sources.

    Install note here:

    I’ve not tested, but have heard that

    sudo apt-get install basket

    should work. If anyone try’s the apt-get, please comment about it.

    10) KompoZer – So I can create web pages faster!


    This is a complete web authoring system that combines web file management and easy-to-use WYSIWYG web page editing. I used to use NVU and KompoZer is a descendant of NVU. For those familiar, it’s a little bit like DreamWeaver.

    Either way, it lets me create pages fast.



    sudo apt-get install kompozer

    Or if you wish, here’s the download:

    Again, these are my 10 best, which are not in any particular order. They keep me productive and organized, while providing me with some eyecandy and entertainment while I work.

    Have better suggestions, use the comments below to let everyone know!


    Sharing is loving!

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    18 Responses to this article

    Rama February 19, 2008 Reply

    Audacity is a pretty good audio editor. I use that:

    For web there’s also BlueFish:

    Oouc February 24, 2008 Reply

    With 22,000+ apps, it is difficult to pick the best 10. I use hundreds of others but not many in this list.

    riger99 February 24, 2008 Reply

    I use Amarok, but it runs sooooo sloooow. Uses a large music library. Any way you can show us how to speed up Amarok?

    Pabl1to February 24, 2008 Reply

    Nice article. I’ll have to check out a couple of those Apps.

    @riger99: You might want think about setting Amarok to use MySQL, it worked for me. This is the How-To I followed:

    Jared February 25, 2008 Reply

    I’ve also run into the problem of Amarok being excessively slow. I have my music library (17,000 songs) on a windows share and it takes about 10-15 minutes after opening amarok to just start the first song. I’ve switched amarok to use the MySQL database instead of SQLlite and use a cifs mount, that got me down to 10-15 minutes, before it was 30-40.

    UbuntuLinuxHelp February 26, 2008 Reply

    Okay! :)
    For those interested, this is in the works. Probably early next week I’ll post that article. (I need to test a couple things first). πŸ˜‰

    Victor March 27, 2008 Reply

    apt-get for basket worked for me on Gutsy.

    Aykydo April 28, 2008 Reply

    this website does not work :
    where else can I get the key?

    UbuntuLinuxHelp April 29, 2008 Reply

    @Aykydo – Hmmm… I get 404 error too. Looks like they removed it (it’s been a while). Try this thread on the Ubuntu forums, I think I remember seeing another key somewhere there:

    jesse thomas August 11, 2009 Reply

    thanks for the articles. Working on setting up ubuntu for my customers and trying to pick the best apps for them.

    Newbie October 17, 2009 Reply

    Nice job!

    I can’t get GIMPshop to work though. I’m all new to Ubunto so it’s all a bit cunfusing.

    How do I get the shortcut in the menu to point towards the GIMPshop executable when I have no idea where I can find the application on the HDD?

    Where should I put dowloaded files that I want to install?

    Is there a nice internet based guide to the very basics of Ubuntu?

    I hope that someone can help a poor noob….

    Dario de Judicibus November 17, 2009 Reply

    I am looking for a ciphered database to keep all my passwords and keys, but not the ones for internet password only, but for EVERY sensitive info (bank accounts, software license keys, and so forth) like SplashId on Treo. Any hint?

    Gijs November 17, 2009 Reply

    sudo apt-get install basket

    command works fine 4 me :)

    Ubuntu 9.10

    mac November 27, 2009 Reply

    I would recommend Songbird now that it is out of beta as a music player, also as an alternative to VLC you can try out SMPlayer as a gui frontend for mplayer

    mac November 30, 2009 Reply

    On a totally unrelated note if anybody has an ipod touch/iphone and would like information on how to transfer music to it on linux feel free to let me know on here.

    barry December 2, 2009 Reply

    hey guys gloobus-preview is a good app it gives preview of the media and documents just like the coverflow in mac

    UbuntuLinuxHelp December 2, 2009 Reply


    I think I’m missing something?
    I watched the two youtube videos about gloobas-preview and I don’t get it. I also click things to view them right now (without gloobas-preview). What’s the difference?

    Dan Dumitrache September 12, 2012 Reply

    I am completely agree with your list but how could you forget about InkScape Vector Graphics Editor?

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