Must Have Programs for Linux

December 2021 ยท 6 minute read


This is a series of articles. I will update this article with the link to the second part when I will release it.

In this part I will cover the following:

  1. Office Suites
  2. PDF viewers
  3. PDF editors
  4. Media/Content Viewers

Stay tuned for part 2!


With the new “LTT Challenge” videos (you can watch the first one here), Linux-based distributions are now seeing a new media coverage as never before, and, of course, I’m feeling happy about this. On the other hand, new Linux users means more inexperienced people that might be discouraged by “something different from Windows/MacOS”. So, here’s my two tips for new Linux users that are coming from proprietary operative systems:

  1. Don’t be scared to try and fail: Linux distributions are diverse, but you can do absolutely everything on all of them, with or without a little tinkering!
  2. Start unbiased: be like when you where a kid approaching Windows/MacOS, don’t search functions and tools you can already find on common operative systems, things will be partially different, if not different at all! Internet is your friend, but patience will be your best friend!

That taken care of, let’s kick things in with my list of Must have programs for Linux-based distributions!

NOTE: I will prefer Free and Open Source alternatives to common programs, because this is how we do things on Linux!

Office-like suites


The Libreoffice logo

A full-featured Office suite for casuals and professionals: documents, drawings, presentations, math and many many more. It is fully compatible with OpenOffice standards and Microsoft document formats standards. Looks modern, feels powerful. It’s divided in its different parts that can be expanded with useful extensions:

How to install Libreoffice



A Microsoft-word/excel/powerpoint clone made to be as close as it gets with Windows compatibilty. It was made to be run online, but you can use it everywhere. It is way simpler than Libreoffice and more easy to use for sure, but it has less features.

How to install Onlyoffice

PDF readers


Okular view

The most popular document viewer you can find on Linux: pdfs, epubs, xps(s) and many more! It is the default PDF reader on KDE Desktop environment, but I personally suggest to install it everywhere. It can not only read PDFs but also modify and sign them!

How to install Okular


Evince view

The default Gnome PDF reader: it is basic, fast and looks really good with a (also good) GTK theme! You can do basic things like searching, indexing, viewing encrypted documents and more. I personally recommend this piece of software if you want a basic PDF reader for everyday use.

How to install Evince

Zathura (only for experienced users!)

Zathura view

KISS: keep it simple stupid. A Vim-like experience, but for PDFs. If you feel like it could not get more minimalistic, this tool will surprise you. It’s a mouse-free PDF(and more!) navigation experience with automatic document reloading, easily customizable and VERY FAST. Like, faf.

How to install Zathura

PDF editors

While you can still use Libreoffice Draw and Okular as basic PDF editors, if you are searching for more (merging, compressing, converting) I got you covered:

PDFsam (basic)

PDFsam view

The basic version of PDFsam, lets you split, merge, rotate, extract pages from a PDF. If you want to support the developer, you can upgrade to the non-FOSS PDFsam paid edition, but I would not recommend that.

The installation is the same as before. (non-FOSS)


A good online tool for modifying PDFs and converting them to other formats. There is no app for Linux, but the site is still fine. It is non-FOSS, website only, so I would not upload private content there, but still, have a look at it.

Sejda PDF Desktop (non-FOSS)

SejdaPDF view

The ultimate tool to manage PDFs. You can do everything: Compressing, merging, organizing, splitting, converting, protecting and watermarking them! The drawbacks?

The FOSS alternatives?

These are the best FOSS PDF editors that you can find for Linux, ordered by personal preference:

  1. Libreoffice Draw
  2. Inkscape
  3. Scribus
  4. Okular
  5. Qoppa PDF Studio

Go and try them now online!

Media Viewer (Video/Audio)


VLC logo

Everybody knows what VLC is. It’s the best media viewer you can find on every operative system. It’s stable, it has lots of features and it is easy to use. It has a good and usable graphical user interface, and can even play videos from YouTube!

Here’s a list of what VLC can do:


MPV view

The fastest media player software you can find on Linux. It is based on MPlayer, mplayer2 and FFMpeg.

Here’s a list of what MPV can do:


For now, that’s all! Thanks for reading and I will see you in the second part of the article.

Author: Federico Torrielli