What essential software do you have on a Ubuntu Desktop machine?
One per answer please, and if you can, provide the official site link if they have it.

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P.S Inspired by this question. I think the question was very useful for Windows users.
I don't mind if the moderators change this question to community wiki.

  • Inspired by this thread and Jeff's answer, this question follows the "infinite list of X" model that this site can't sustain meaningfully. It's far too subjective and has no bounds. If you're looking for a specific type of application, try that but I don't think there's any value in an open-ended fishing expedition like this. Feel free to discuss in meta but I'm closing this for now.
    – Oli
    Feb 20, 2011 at 11:59
  • @Oli I think that a thread like this is needed by many ubuntu newbies. You should have locked or closed more later. It's a just community wiki!
    – Benjamin
    Feb 20, 2011 at 12:05
  • Even if it's not overly subjective (which it still is in my mind), it's a duplicate of this thread. But if people want specific software suggestions, they're more than free to ask and they will get plenty of suggestions.
    – Oli
    Feb 20, 2011 at 12:12
  • @Oli Okay, agree.
    – Benjamin
    Feb 20, 2011 at 12:17
  • In fairness to you, I didn't take this decision lightly. I converted it to a wiki when I first saw it (because that's what this sort of question should be) but left it open because I wanted to think about it. The line between what's acceptable and what isn't when it comes to subjectiveness is very thin and quite blurred. It's a tough job decided which some times but I'm glad you agree with my decision.
    – Oli
    Feb 20, 2011 at 12:22

9 Answers 9


VLC Media Player - the best open source cross platform media player around - plays everything, video/audio files, discs (DVD, CD, VCD), media converter and streamer (the list goes on.....)

Again, so easy to install just install it from the software center.

And... for those using the (dare I say “Best”) Firefox browser, there's even a handy plug in! just install vlc-plugin-* and mozilla-plugin-vlc from the software center.

  • +1 If there was no VLC player in Ubuntu, I would never use Ubuntu.
    – Benjamin
    Feb 20, 2011 at 10:47

Ubuntu Tweak - a must have utility for those new users unfamiliar with command line or bash scripts, very similar to the old Windows Tweak UI


Shutter, so that I can provide screenshots to answers in this forum.

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Remmina for VNC and RDP connections. Far superior, in my opinion, to the built-in Vinagre.

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download/site link for Ubuntu Sofware? One of (if not THE) main reason for switching From Windows to Ubuntu for me is to never, ever again have to "hunt" for software scattered through thousand of websites. Not to mention security concerns (does it have a virus? or a trojan? can you trust the website? is it a legitmate source? is it official?)

99% of my Ubuntu sofware (if not 100%) i got from Ubuntu Sofware Center (or Synaptic). And i cant describe how good it is to have a centralized, trusted, easy to use, software source, where i can browse, find, download, remove, everything from Skype to Eclipse, from Movie Players to Games.

That said, my vote goes for SKYPE

Not open source, i know. But if this contest is windows-users oriented, it surely makes them feel (a bit) more at home. And its a great display of Linux amazing "just-type-in-and-click-install" centralized approach for installing new (and known) software

  • 1
    Not sure why my legitmate choice for Skype was voted down. Its vital for me as an user, and its one piece of sofware every Windows user ask me if its avaliable in Ubuntu. "yes, there is Skype for Ubuntu. And also MSN, FireFox, and OpenOffice reads docx format" was the very answer that made many friends do the switch.
    – MestreLion
    Feb 20, 2011 at 9:50
  • Also, I would highly discourage any sofware not avaiable in repos. Linux (Ubuntu included) brings not only new sofware, but a new mindset for installing and maintaining it. Its a good new paradigm for Windows users, and should at least be encouraged.
    – MestreLion
    Feb 20, 2011 at 9:54
  • I don't know who did but I think downvoters should comment why they did do that. It's an etiquette.
    – Benjamin
    Feb 20, 2011 at 10:17

wine so that I can run notepad++* and some windows games (although there is something trying to fix that)

*yes, I know there are some others but I like it, and it works just fine.


IT professional? Connection to many servers throught ssh/telnet, tunnels, ...? If so, then try "PAC Manager" (http://sourceforge.net/projects/pacmanager/). Else, don't. ;)



Kupfer is a program to change, speed up and make everything about files and programs more fun on your computer. Kupfer is heavily inspired by Quicksilver; you use it to summon an application or document quickly by typing the first parts of its name. It can also do more than getting at something quickly: there are different plugins for accessing more objects and running custom commands.


sudo apt-add-repository ppa:kupfer-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install kupfer

opensshh to allow me to connect to my computer remotely, and to connect to others. my main use is to forward ports I would normally not want to be accessible to the internet. (such as my music stream from MPD)

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