A yearly review – My 40 most favorite apps for Linux for 2023

The time has come again to reflect for many. We are almost at the end of 2022 and as in recent years, I want to look back and look forward to different aspects of my life. A lot has happened for me, both personally and professionally, both good and not-so-good, and I think that probably applies to everyone to some degree. On RealLinuxUser.com we talk about everything Linux related together, so here I would like to look back and look forward to Linux-related topics. As I did for the previous years, I want to look back at my Linux experiences and share with you my favorite applications you and I can use in the new year. As a Linux blogger I look at and try out a lot of different software solutions and I always do my best to write useful and valuable articles that hopefully help you in your decision-making on software selection or just help to explain how applications work, how problems can be solved, or how software can improve your life. Out of all the applications, I tried, a substantial list of applications have my real preference over other applications and I therefore regularly use them for my personal work, productivity, creativity, and whatever I further do with my Linux-based setup. So in this article, I will share my 40 most favorite applications for Linux for you to use in 2023.

Looking at the past

Before I start this annual recurring article, I always look back at what I wrote in my previous reflection article. The year 2021 was very hectic for me and also asked a lot of me mentally and physically. This was partly due to completing a heavy curriculum with mandatory training for my day job, but also a terrible chronic pain in my lower back for which I was treated. Fortunately, 2022 was a much better and less stressful year in that regard, which gave me much more time for a number of personal projects, among other things, and also had more time for this website.

At the end of 2021 I said the following:

I am still hoping to someday finish my first book, but maybe I am changing the main focus in the book from Linux Mint to Zorin OS, but I am not sure yet. And when I finish this book, maybe I can convert it to an online course, which is another dream of mine.“.

Well, I can say that I was able to realize both dreams this year, but in a different order. I worked very hard in 2022 to first create and publish my “Zorin OS – Linux for the rest of us” course. Through more than 30 simple, readable and beginner-friendly lessons, with this course, I want to offer you a simple-to-follow complete Linux starters guide. This course helps you to start your Linux journey based on the very user-friendly, incredibly beautiful, accessible, stable, and adaptable Linux distribution Zorin OS, but can be used without a problem for other Ubuntu-based Linux distributions as well. 

You can find the course here: 

Course: Zorin OS – Linux for the rest of us

At the same time, I was working on writing my first book. I am very proud that I was able to make one of my biggest dreams come true and indeed this year I was able to complete my book “Linux for the rest of us” and offer it to all Linux enthusiasts worldwide.

This book helps novice Linux users, doubters, and potential switchers, to understand what Linux is, what choices to make and how, to properly choose the right distribution, where to find Linux distributions, how to create a Linux live USB media, how to make sure you have a secure download to start with, how to install Linux, how to get the system working optimally for different hardware types, how to find and install beautiful applications, and it also offers many more interesting topics that will help you further in your Linux journey. The book will help anyone who is not really interested in the most in-depth technical aspects but wants to use a computer for productive purposes, to understand, set up, and use their new Linux system in an effective way, according to a logical step-by-step approach.

My book “Linux for the rest of us” is available worldwide through Amazon, in Paperback and Kindle eBook format. The book has 360 pages for the actual content of 30 chapters. The Paperback will be printed in 6 by 9 inches / 15.24 by 22.86 cm format, in grayscale print. The eBook version is available in full color for the Kindle app on tablets and phones, and in grayscale on Kindle devices.

You can find all information on my book here:

In the past year, I have also been able to receive and answer many nice and interesting questions from readers. I really like this one-on-one interaction. Furthermore, I have published 22 articles, which may seem small compared to many other Linux-oriented websites, but my articles are usually quite long and often require a lot of research and testing. In the past year, I also started writing mini-reviews, shorter articles that summarize what an app has to offer. I want to offer this type of review more often in the coming year.

So when looking back at 2022, I think I had quite a productive year, with some resulting products that I am really proud of.

Looking at the future

When I think about the future and what I want to do in 2023, I get excited about the possibilities. One of the bigger projects is to completely update my free Linux Mint tutorial series. My current Linux Mint tutorial series is starting to get a bit outdated, as it was based on Linux Mint 19.X with an Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic foundation. The current Linux Mint 21 is based on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS, the latest long-term support release of Ubuntu. So it’s time to completely rewrite the entire series to the new Linux Mint 21 foundation so that you as a reader will be fully equipped with the latest information. It will take a while, so be patient and give me some time.

I also really liked that in the past a number of readers were willing to share their personal Linux stories with the rest of the readers. unfortunately, there were fewer in the past year than I had hoped, so I hope that in 2023 there will be new readers who want to write their own stories and see them published on reallinuxuser.com.

I also often receive interesting questions from readers in my mailbox. I always try to answer these questions as well and clearly as possible, if I am able to do so myself. sometimes I don’t have a solution for a problem. I am thinking of offering this kind of reader questions and my answer as an article via the website so that other readers can also benefit from it.

I already indicated that I want to fully update my Linux Mint tutorial series to Linux Mint 21. When I finish that I want to use this tutorial series for a second book titled “Linux Mint for beginners”. I have enjoyed writing and publishing my book “Linux for the rest of us” so much that it gives me the energy to start writing a new book.

Further, I am thinking about publishing a monthly newsletter, but I am still not sure if you see any value in this and want to subscribe for something like this. 

To end my random thoughts on what I want to do in the coming year, I want to mention that I am starting a second website, realappuser.com. I am very interested in personal productivity systems and exploring all kinds of applications that can help us with note-taking, organizing, planning, and execution. There are a lot of interesting topics to explore and to write about, like theoretical backgrounds, how to set up and optimize your productivity system and your second brain, and all the tools that can support it. These topics are broader than only Linux-related, so I started realappuser.com to give this a dedicated place on the web.

Oh, before I forget, some of you know that I like to be creative, like photography and drawing. In the past year, I have mainly picked up drawing again, including making desktop wallpapers for personal use. But when friends and colleagues saw these desktop wallpapers, I got a lot of enthusiastic reactions. These positive reactions have given me the confidence to make my desktop wallpapers available to others and to continue working on new series. If you’re interested, check out my Gumroad page for an overview of my desktop wallpaper series.

So now that we are almost at the end of 2022, it’s time to share my most favorite applications available for Linux that I tried out and used extensively in the past year, and which I can therefore strongly recommend to you as a good foundation for 2023. These are all applications that I am very satisfied with and really use in a productive way frequently at least on a weekly basis, but often on a daily basis, or that I recommend to the people around me. I hope you will find some inspiration from my list as well. So here are my 40 most favorite applications for Linux for 2023.

My 40 most favorite applications for Linux for 2023

Before I start I want to notice that in my list there are both open-source and closed-source applications and both non-commercial and commercial applications. Not everyone is agreeing with me, but for me personally, I don’t mind using closed-source applications on my Linux machines. I am not an open source purist and if there are applications that don’t have a good open source alternative, or if they are just a better fit for my personal use case, then I don’t mind using these as well. And next to that I strongly believe that Linux as an alternative platform can really grow in popularity if people see that a lot of the applications they already use and are familiar with, also run on Linux, or at least in the browser. That makes the switch a bit easier, and after their first steps maybe their interest in open-source alternatives will grow as well. 

For me, the application is not a goal in itself, but what you can do, create or achieve with it is in my opinion much more important. For these so-called use cases I am constantly looking for the best available solutions and therefore it may be that I change applications over time, depending on new findings and improved applications. But what I notice is that over the years my list of applications gets a bit more stable, which means that I found some of my really favorite apps that I can use for the long run.

Below you will find the categories, subcategories, and the application names of use cases for which I will share my favorite applications for you to use in 2023:

Operating system

  • Linux distribution – Zorin OS 16.2

File management    

  • File finder – Albert    
  • Duplicate file finder – FSlint    

System optimization    

  • System Optimization and Monitoring – Stacer    
  • Laptop battery optimization – TLP    
  • Application startup optimization – Preload    

Keeping your stuff safe   

  • Password management – Bitwarden    
  • Backup system data – Timeshift    
  • Backup personal data – luckyBackup    

Internet and communication    

  • Internet browsing – Firefox 
  • Email – Thunderbird / BlueMail    
  • RSS Feeds – NewsFlash    
  • Mobile integration – Zorin Connect      

Productivity    

  • Office functionality – ONLYOFFICE    
  • To Do – Zenkit To Do   
  • Personal project management – Zenkit Base    
  • Note taking – Joplin    

Creativity    

  • Color Management – DisplayCAL    
  • Photo and video import – Rapid Photo Downloader    
  • Photo management – digiKam    
  • Photo RAW editing – darktable    
  • Traditional film processing but digital – Filmulator    
  • Image manipulation – GIMP    
  • Video editing – DaVinci Resolve   
  • Video Conversion – WinFF    
  • Desktop publishing – Scribus    
  • Vector drawing – Inkscape    
  • Artistic drawing – Krita    
  • Text Editing – TextShine   

Tools    

  • Reduce eye strain – SafeEyes    
  • Screenshots – Shutter    
  • PDF Reader – Evince    
  • PDF Editor – LibreOffice Draw    
  • Music management – Clementine    
  • Home administration – Homebank
  • Web Reading: Pocket    

Learning    

  • Zettelkasten – Zenkit Hypernotes    
  • Mind mapping – Minder    
  • Take breaks – Go For It!    

Development    

  • Coding – Visual Studio Code

Operating System

Linux distribution – Zorin OS 16.2

I want to start with my operating system of choice. Back in 2018 for me, the absolute winner was Linux Mint, because this was the Linux distribution that helped me make the switch to this beautiful Linux world. But in my continuous search for topics to write about, I also tried other Linux distributions, so in 2019 I shifted to Zorin OS 15, which had a clear impact on me and became my daily driver. And currently, Zorin OS 16.2 is my daily driver, because I personally think that Zorin OS adds some real value-added extras and finesse in terms of user-friendliness, look and feel, completeness, flexibility, integration, and interaction. I’m so excited about Zorin OS that I’ve devoted both a course and my first book to it.

You can download the free Zorin OS 16.2 Core edition or one of the other variants via the Zorin OS download page.

File Management

File finder – Albert

A few years ago I completely switched from Apple’s macOS to Linux and since then I haven’t looked back. And although I am now a dedicated Linux user and enthusiast and write with passion about it on my website, it does not mean that I can no longer see and appreciate the qualities of Apple products, both hardware as well as software. One of these Apple solutions that I and many others with me can appreciate is Spotlight. But don’t worry, for Linux there are also comparable applications available, like Mutate, Krunner, GNOME Do, and Ulauncher. But personally, I think Albert is best, which has the same look and feel as Apple Spotlight.

Even though Albert cannot be fully compared with Spotlight, there are still many features that are similar and some even more polished that make Albert a great Spotlight alternative for Linux. With Albert you have a simple starting point or a quick launcher, that can be activated via a simple key combination, to find, access, or start all your own applications, files, and folders and their paths, but also finds bookmarks and helps you to browse the web in a focused way.

You can read more on Albert in my article “Albert is a good Spotlight alternative for Linux“.

Duplicate file finder – FSlint

Most people probably know it: the more space you have, the more junk you collect. This applies to our houses, our garages, but of course also to our digital world. Digital storage is becoming cheaper and cheaper so it is becoming less and less important to monitor whether we are using our storage capacity optimally. We just buy a new hard drive when we run out of space. But for a while now I am becoming more and more interested in minimalism and simple living, without distraction and things I don’t need, and that includes a tidy digital life as well. One of the aspects that is important when cleaning up your digital life is finding out if you have unnecessary duplicate files on your storage media. When you use Linux, one of those free and open-source tools that you can use in the cleaning process is the application FSlint.

FSlint’s primary focus is on finding duplicate files on your hard drives. But if you found duplicate files then you probably want to do something with them, for example, collecting and then deleting the unnecessary files. FSlint makes it possible to easily identify a location, such as a complete hard disk or a specific folder, and then search for duplicate files there. When these have been found, you can determine which files you want to remove or maybe merge. You just have to select the result files and choose the option Delete or Merge. But FSlint can do much more than search for duplicate files. Think about searching for temporary files or empty directories.

You can find more on FSlint here: FSlint 

System Optimization

System Optimization and Monitoring – Stacer

Making clutter is easier than cleaning up clutter. Making a mess happens naturally to many people, but cleaning up the mess requires a bit of discipline. And this works better for one person than for another, so if there is some help out there that makes the job easier, that would be a great gift for a lot of us. Due to the fact that I try out many applications and settings as a foundation for writing my posts, the chance of an abundance of digital clutter on my Linux system is very likely. At a certain moment, you no longer know what you have and have not installed and whether you have removed everything you no longer need correctly and completely. In addition, I also have a need to see how my system is performing after a period of intensive use. One of the applications for Linux that people like you and me can support in this process is Stacer. In my opinion, Stacer is in my opinion the best and most user-friendly system optimizing and monitoring tool for Linux. And it is an example of what in my opinion good design looks like in the Linux world.

Stacer is an application heavily based on a graphical user interface with the aim of offering an extensive set of both cleaning and system monitoring functionalities for the Linux user. By using an accessible and beautiful user interface, Stacer wants to make the process of cleaning and monitoring easier for the average user. But also the experienced user can easily make this tool part of his or her Linux-based workflow.

Read more about Stacer in my article “Stacer is the best system optimizing and monitoring tool for Linux“.

Laptop battery optimization – TLP

The Linux operating system is really great since it is stable, robust, modern, and user-friendly and therefore it can easily compete with the established operating systems and even surpass them at some points. But Linux is not equally strong at all points. One of the areas that deserve more attention is battery life when running on a laptop. Most Linux distributions are out of the box not really optimized to get the most out of your laptop. On a desktop, you don’t need to improve battery life of course, but on your laptop, you should give some attention to optimizing your power consumption, so you can use your machine as long as possible during the day. Up till this very moment it has never been possible to squeeze as many hours out of a Linux-based laptop as compared to macOS and Windows-based machines. But things can be improved with an application like TLP.

TLP is a very extensive software solution, but the nice thing is that it offers out-of-the-box a default configuration already optimized for most machines. But on top of that default setting, there is a lot to adapt to fulfill your specific needs. TLP gives you all the required functions to tweak your components like the processor, hard disks, wireless components, network devices, and graphics and sound devices. Think about processor frequency scaling, power-aware process scheduler for multi-core and hyper-threading, wifi power saving mode, hard drive advanced power management, audio power saving, and Input/Output schedulers.

If you want to read more about TLP and how to install and use it, read my article “How to improve battery life on Linux laptops with TLP“.

Application startup optimization – Preload

You all probably have seen that some applications start slower than others. There are many reasons for this behavior, like the size of the application and the package type. If you want to have a faster start-up time for your favorite apps it can be wise to start these apps from memory and not from disk. Of course, every application must start initially from disk, but what if you can preload these applications before you actually choose to start them? When already in memory you will see a significant speed bump when starting your apps. To do this you can install the application Preload.

Preload is what they call in technical terms a daemon. This daemon is active in the background of all your processes. Preload is a nifty application that becomes better after a while because it monitors what apps you use most. Based on that behavior it expects that you will use these apps also more than others in the future. Based on that it chooses to bring some apps already into memory for you. This should have a noticeable improvement for start-up time.

Installation of Preload is simple, but you need to use the command line. Open your Terminal with the keyboard combination Ctrl + Alt + T and copy the following command into it: 

sudo apt-get install preload

Now power off your system and start it up again. From now on Preload runs in the background monitoring your behavior. It sounds more creepy than it actually is because this behavior is not shared with parties that shouldn’t have your data.

Keeping your stuff safe

Password management – Bitwarden

There are a lot of password managers available. The minimum requirements for me are that I can use a password manager both online and offline, that it should run on all platforms available including Linux, that it syncs my data, and that it offers good encryption out of the box. In 2020 and the years before that my first choice was Enpass. In my opinion, Enpass is still a great powerful password manager that is offered for free for desktop operating systems. But in my search for open-source alternatives, I found the password manager Bitwarden. I tried it and I was sold. This application looks great, has good solid functionality, is reliable, is available on all known platforms, syncs between these platforms, and is highly praised by security experts. And very recently Bitwarden offers passwordless authentication. Via the “Log in with device” option your second device, like your mobile phone, enables you to authenticate your web vault login.

You can find more on Bitwarden here:

https://bitwarden.com/

Backup system data – Timeshift

In my opinion, the application Timeshift is superb for backup and restore of your system files. Timeshift works on the basis of incremental backups. The first time, when there is nothing backed up yet, Timeshift will have to make a full initial backup of course, but from then on Timeshift only looks at the modified files and then only makes a backup of those changes. The advantage of this approach is that these follow-up backups are much faster since the number of files that are in scope is much smaller. But also the amount of storage needed is much smaller.

Timeshift is not meant for every backup situation, because if you don’t think wisely about your backup strategy for Timeshift, it also unexpectedly recovers your personal data in for example your Documents, Videos, or Pictures folder from another moment in time, so you lose the latest updates on the files you created. To back up and restore your individual personal files, such as text documents, spreadsheets, photos, and films, it is advisable to use another backup application such as LuckyBackup or Cronopete. That is also the reason why Timeshift excludes your home folder and all subfolders by default and you have to actively indicate to include it in the backup scope if you want to go against this advice. But for securing your system implementation, Timeshift is a perfect solution, as it enables you to recover your whole system to another moment in time when something really went wrong. Perfect for those who like to experiment a bit.

Read my article “How to use Timeshift to backup and restore Linux Mint” for more in-depth information on Timeshift.

Backup personal data – luckyBackup

Please think about a backup strategy for your personal files. The question is not if your hard disk will break once or not, but when it will actually happen. And you want to be prepared for that. Every hard disk, SSD, etc, has a limited lifespan and the moment it stops working is always at an unexpected and undesirable moment. So be aware of that and act on it. For my personal files, I have some specific requirements, like being able to directly read (without needing the backup software) my backed-up files, write different sources to different targets, activate or deactivate parts of the backup procedure as needed, set up and use the software completely within a graphical environment. For me, the application luckyBackup fits all those needs perfectly. As a long-time user without any issues, I can highly recommend luckyBackup.

Read my blog post “luckyBackup is a powerful backup solution for Linux” for more information on luckyBackup.

You can also read more on generic backup strategies in my article “How to design your perfect backup strategy for Linux“.

Or have a look at my Linux Mint or Zorin OS focused articles “How to set up and use backups in Zorin OS” and “How to set up and use backups in Linux Mint“.

Internet and Communication

Internet Browsing – Firefox

I am not sure what it is, but in previous years I was continuously switching browsers. A lot of browsers have some unique features, their own look, and feel, the way they handle and present favorites, the way they synchronize, etc. But 2022 was finally the year for me in which I only used one web browser. Despite all those specific qualities other browsers have, my browser of choice this year is Firefox.

For me personally, there is an important argument for using Firefox. One of the problems is that browsers like Vivaldi, but also popular browsers like Brave, are based on the same engine that Google’s Chrome is built on. When we all use browsers with that same engine this could finally mean that Google has complete monopoly on how we technically use a browser and how websites are built as they can add web technologies that support their own business model and on the other hand, they may decide to simply not include non-Google web technologies in this engine. And since most people use browsers with this engine, Google has a lot of influence on what is and what is not possible on the internet. To counterbalance the growing monopoly of Google, we could make more use of alternative web technologies such as Firefox offers. The same is explained very well by one of my favorite Linux YouTube channels, The Linux Experiment, in the following vlog post:

Of course, my choice for Firefox is not only to take a stand against big tech, because I think Firefox is also a fast and stable browser with a user interface that is clear and logically structured. For example, I love having that bookmarks area always visible on the left side of my screen for navigation. But Firefox also offers nice things like the ability to read without distractions via the Reader View mode, a built-in Eyedropper, built-in screenshot functionality, and automatic blocking of auto-playing videos.

Email – Thunderbird / BlueMail

Thunderbird is still my primary email application under Linux, but I see all these smart functionalities in the modern email apps on our mobile devices that I hope will be included in Thunderbird as well. For me, the strength of Thunderbird is the old-school setup with the always visible columns for the Subject, Correspondent, Date, etc, which is very convenient for sorting and for example deleting in bulk in a fast manner. But I am very charmed by the application BlueMail, which is available for Linux as well, but also on Android and iOS, which offers some smart tools to make life easier. Like with MagicSync you can sync your accounts and settings between your active device and any new device by just generating and sharing a sync code. And what about integrated Kanban functionality to organize emails in different stages to be picked up? Both Thunderbird and BlueMail have some strengths and weaknesses, so I hope that one day one of these tools has all the good things of both worlds. Until then I use Thunderbird and BlueMail side by side.

For more information on BlueMail you can read my article “How to get email done with BlueMail for Linux“.

RSS Feeds – NewsFlash

We all have our favorite websites and blogs, of which we like to stay informed about new publications. When you follow a lot of websites and you want to know about updates frequently, it is almost impossible to stay up-to-date with all of them manually. If you visit these websites frequently to look for updates, you probably find that only a small number of them have been updated, but most of them have not. This will cost you a lot of time that you could use in a better way. Ideally, you want to be automatically notified when there is an update on the websites you follow. This is possible with an RSS feed reader.

Currently, my personal favorite Linux-based RSS Feed Reader is NewsFlash. There are a lot of good solutions available for Linux, but for me, a powerful option in NewsFlash is the Discover functionality. In a lot of other RSS Feed Readers, you need to manually provide the complete RSS web address, which is not always according to just one standard. When you want to follow my website www.reallinuxuser.com (of course 😉), the RSS address is www.reallinuxuser.com/feed. But other websites use for example /feeds, or something completely different. And for some websites, you can simply subscribe to an RSS feed and for other websites, it is there but you are not being informed about the RSS possibility. That’s why I really like the Discover functionality in NewsFlash, because you can just type a part of the website you want to follow and NewsFlash finds the available RSS feed link for you, or just type something like “Linux”, and you will get a list with sources that have the word Linux included. This makes life much easier.

Read my article “How to follow your favorite websites with the NewsFlash RSS Feed Reader for Linux” to get some more details.

Maybe you are also interested to receive your RSS feed updates in Thunderbird. You can read my article “How to add RSS Feeds for your favorite YouTube channels to Thunderbird Mail” to see how to set it up.

If you are interested in integrating RSS functionality, you should have a look at the Firefox extension Feedbro. 

Mobile integration – Zorin Connect

Zorin Connect is a software solution that provides convenient and intelligent functionality to integrate your Android mobile phone and your Linux Zorin OS based pc or laptop. Zorin Connect is designed and created and is in active development by the team behind the Zorin OS Linux distribution and is based on GSConnect and KDE Connect. Zorin Connect is a software solution that makes wireless communication possible between your Zorin OS device and your Android mobile phone, as long as your computer is connected to your network and your Android phone is connected to the same network via WiFi.

With Zorin Connect it is possible to receive the notifications that normally appear on your phone, and on your desktop as well. So when there are WhatsApp or Telegram messages coming in, a pop-up will also be visible on your desktop, that you can even react to or remove without touching your phone. But you also can browse photos on your phone, share both files and links between your devices, get notifications for incoming phone calls and SMS messages on your computer and you can even use your Android phone as a remote control to manage some software on your computer. And that’s not all. You can see the battery status of your phone on your desktop, you can browse the file system remotely, launch the camera app to take and transfer images, find your Android Phone via your computer, send SMS messages from your desktop, use your Android device for changing slides in a presentation or the pages in your LibreOffice document, it provides a remote control function for your media player and you can use your phone as a touchpad or keyboard. That’s all pretty great in my humble opinion.

If you want the same kind of functionality in another Linux distribution, like Ubuntu or Linux Mint, you can download and install KDE Connect on both your computer and mobile phone.

Productivity

Office – ONLYOFFICE

Everyone who is interested in Linux and Open Source knows the LibreOffice office suite. From the moment I started using Linux I also used LibreOffice for my office needs. And although LibreOffice is still fantastic, this year I found ONLYOFFICE as a better option for my needs. 

One of the reasons I switched to ONLYOFFICE is the fact that this office suite simply has a much better connection with documents created in Microsoft Office. The developers themselves indicate: “ONLYOFFICE was made for working with docx, xlsx and pptx, and has maximum MS Office compatibility”.

In addition, I find the user interface and the way ONLYOFFICE works a breath of fresh air. It is much clearer and easier to use than LibreOffice.

ONLYOFFICE also offers a cloud environment and also has mobile applications so that documents can be maintained on any platform.

You can find more on the Linux version of ONLYOFFICE here:

ONLYOFFICE for Linux

To Do – Zenkit To Do

If you are a frequent reader of this website, you will know by now that I am a fan of productivity applications, such as to do lists and Kanban boards. In the past, I have paid attention to the open source To Do applications named Planner and Super Productivity, both of which I think are superb productivity applications for Linux, with both their own specific qualities. But when I came in contact with the suite of related applications from Zenkit, I was strongly drawn to Zenkit Base for my project-related needs, and Zenkit To Do for the individual to do items.

Zenkit To Do is a simple but powerful To Do application that is available for every important platform, including Linux, but also as a web-based app. Zenkit To Do offers a simple organization platform for those situations in which for example the more advanced Kanban, Table, or List functionality of Zenkit Base is not required. It enables easy management of your tasks, events, thoughts, notes, and whatever you can think of that needs to be managed in a simple way. Zenkit To Do offers strong planning capabilities, smart time-focussing options, reminders, recurring tasks, task assignment commenting, and collaboration support.

You can read more about Zenkit To Do in my article “How to use Zenkit To Do on Linux to support your productive life“. 

Personal project management – Zenkit Base

For the Clarify, Organize, Reflect and Engage steps that I follow for my productive life, I prefer to use a Kanban solution, which helps me to visualize the organization and planning of all my actionable items. So, for all my personal projects I create separate Kanban boards, and in each Kanban board, I manage my work by moving activity cards between Backlog, To Do This Week, To Do Today, In Progress, and Done.

There are many Kanban software solutions available for the mainstream macOS and Windows desktop operating systems and the most important mobile operating systems, free or paid, and professional or more focused on personal use. Unfortunately, the range of open-source Kanban applications for Linux is less extensive, and if you find them, most of them require you to do a fairly complex setup of a private server or web hosting solution. There are lots of closed-source Kanban solutions out there that can be used within a browser in Linux, like Zoho Projects, Trello, and Meistertask. But if possible I like to have the option of a native Linux installable application. Zenkit is one of my favorite closed-source commercial solutions (with a free version with limited but very usable options) that also offers a Linux application.

Zenkit offers much more ways of presenting your task data than only a Kanban board, like a List view, a Table view, Calendar, and also offers Hierarchy, Mindmap, and Team Wiki functionality. This makes Zenkit a really powerful piece of software. And based on the same data you simply switch between different scopes. Zenkit offers activity tracking, team collaboration, notifications, labeling, prioritization, planning, alerting, creating subtasks, creating checklists and to-do lists, smart filtering, bulk actions, aggregations, task assignment, comments and offers different templates and the list goes on and on.

In my article “What is Kanban and How to use Kanban in Linux” I provide much more information on how to install, set up, and use Zenkit.

In my article “How I manage my productive life in Linux” you can read more on how I integrate this application into my productivity workflow:

On the Zenkit features page, you can find an extensive overview of all the features available: Zenkit features overview

Note taking – Joplin

For many years I used Evernote as my digital brain or my permanent storage functionality for long time reference and note-taking. I still think Evernote is a powerful note-taking application, with a lot of flexible functionalities. But because I came into contact with Linux, my search for an Evernote alternative for Linux started. And I found it in Joplin!

In my humble opinion, Joplin is by far the best open source, platform-independent, subscription-free, and cost-free note-taking tool, natively available for Linux, but also on all mobile devices, with sync capabilities with various cloud services including Nextcloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, WebDAV or the file system.

Joplin is great in my opinion and offers all the possibilities you can imagine for capturing various kinds of notes. In the following Youtube video, the channel Eevnos Linux gives a clear explanation of the possibilities of Joplin and his enthusiasm corresponds with my own enthusiasm.

In my article “How I manage my productive life in Linux” you can read more about how I integrate this application into my productivity workflow. If you want to find out more about Joplin go to the following website:

https://joplinapp.org

Creativity

Color Management – DisplayCAL

When you are serious about photography and image editing, it is very important that your monitor displays colors accurately and with the correct brightness, tone and intensity. Just think about what happens when the screen is set too dark. Then your photo seems darker than it actually is. Based on that perception you adjust the brightness of the photo mistakenly to the bright side to make it visually match what you expected. If you now have the photo printed at a professional lab, the end result will be an overexposed image. To avoid these kinds of mistakes you have to objectify your use of colors. So if color accuracy is important to you, the first step in your photography workflow should always be the calibration of your monitor with a device intended for that purpose, also known as a colorimeter. I use an old Spyder 3 pro myself on the hardware side and DisplayCAL on the software side. DisplayCAL is a display calibration and profiling application for Linux, but also for other platforms. It has screen accuracy in mind. The software is set up in a very clear way and you are guided through the process by logical steps.

Read more in my post “How to color calibrate your monitor in Linux“.

Photo and video import – Rapid Photo Downloader

Anyone who is very involved with photography or video will automatically come to the point of thinking about a workflow, or an optimal and standardized process that includes, for example, steps for importing files, building the folder structure, and naming the photo files and video files. The purpose of the Rapid Photo Downloader application is, based on your own pre-defined rules, to greatly simplify and standardize the transfer of files, so transferring your photos and videos from the memory card to the computer will be a breeze. In my opinion, Rapid Photo Downloader is absolutely the best open-source photo and video download software for Linux.

Rapid Photo Downloader does not try to be everything in one application but is very clearly focused on just one part of a photo or video workflow. Where all-in-one applications are often a bit alright in everything but do not really excel at anything, precisely because of this limited scope Rapid Photo Downloader has become a very powerful tool for the limited part for which it is intended. Me, as a Linux user, I am very happy that this application is available and it has therefore become my default starting point in my photo workflow. 

Read more in my post “Rapid Photo Downloader is the best open source photo and video download software for Linux“.

Photo management – digiKam

Before I start editing my photo RAW files, which I do in darktable, I first want to clean up, categorize and select my new images with the help of ratings and keywords. digiKam enables me to do this in an efficient manner, among other things with the aid of star ratings and color indicators. digiKam is an advanced open-source digital photo management application, which provides a comprehensive set of tools for importing, managing, editing, and sharing photo files. Within digiKam I can quickly view a collection of images, I can add a star rating of 1-5, and then can filter on these ratings. IPTC metadata such as keywords, description,s and copyright information can also be added here and can be used for filters. When you are into photography and like to have professional grade managing capabilities, you should have a look at this powerful application.

Find the digiKam website here:

https://www.digikam.org

Photo RAW editing – darktable

Adobe’s Lightroom has been the de facto standard for professional and serious RAW editing for Windows and macOS for years. As lovers of Linux and open-source software, we do not have Lightroom at our disposal, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have similar needs when it comes to the serious processing of RAW photo files and accompanying workflow support. And in my opinion, the fulfillment of those needs is offered to us in the form of the powerful open-source solution darktable. Anyone who appreciates a clear and professional workflow for importing, valuing, editing, synchronizing, presenting, printing, and exporting and looking at the enormous range of high-quality development modules can hardly ignore darktable. In my opinion, a must-have in your professional workflow.

The team behind darktable has clearly been inspired by Adobe’s Lightroom and that is certainly not a wrong choice. It offers a clear interface that fits in with workflow thinking, although it is probably a bit of a chore for the novice image editor in the beginning. It, therefore, offers the possibility to select from the wide range of editing modules only the one you use most as a favorite, so that it meets your own needs. And you even can select a predefined set of tools based on your use case, like landscape photography.

In addition, darktable is what is called a fully “color-managed” application, making it an optimal fit in a workflow where color management from conception to print plays a crucial role. For example, darktable supports the automatic detection of display profiles, including built-in ICC profile support for sRGB, Adobe RGB, and linear RGB color spaces. And in terms of performance, we are served our every need. If you have a relatively powerful GPU, the option is offered to use OpenCL when editing the photo files, which gives a very noticeable boost in performance.

An important feature of darktable is the non-destructive way in which adjustments are made to photo files. Each photo file is opened as a read-only image. Adjustments, in contrast, color, gradient, and sharpness are not processed directly in the pixels, but are recorded as metadata in a sidecar file. Actually, the set values ​​that are mutated via sliders and graphs, are recorded separately and each time you open and look at the same photo, these mutation values ​​are executed again, which means that you can copy these same settings to other files as well and have them edited in the same way without extra work. 

Read more on photo workflow in my blog post “How to set up a Linux and Open Source based workflow for professional photographers“.

Recently there has been a major update on the application Rawtherapee, a good alternative for darktable. One of the things that were always missing for me in Rawtherapee was a spot removal tool, but with version 5.9  a Spot Removal tool is now available, for removing dust specks and small objects.

Traditional film processing but digital – Filmulator

Filmulator (https://filmulator.org/) brings back traditional film processing in your Linux digital darkroom by using a completely different way of “developing” your digital photo files compared to other editing applications. Filmulator has its foundation based on what we call Stand Development. This type of photo development was also in the analog film darkroom era a differentiating technique from regular development with unique resulting characteristics. Stand Development was a developing process for black-and-white film. The basic difference between the regular development process and the Stand Development process is the way you handle the developer fluid during the development process.  

In the “old” days when you were developing your film in the darkroom, you were using developer fluid, a stop bath fluid, and a fixing fluid. Normally when you were developing, you were what is called “agitating” the developing chemicals, which means that during the process, the bottle holding the fluid and the film was repeatedly rotated for a couple of seconds each couple of minutes to spread the fluid evenly over the film material. With Stand development you don’t rotate the bottle holding the fluid, which has a different effect on the final results. In a normal developing process, the highlights of the exposed film were treated differently by the developer than the shadows. In the Stand Development process, there is a different development balance between them, resulting in optically finer grain, a very specific balance between shadows and highlights, and the perceived effect of more sharpness than there actually is.   

Filmulator is based on this very specific Stand Development technique. Well, we are not actually using digital chemicals of course, but we can use different digital sliders that use behind the scenes the Stand Development characteristics. To do this the application is designed to simulate 3 steps in the photographic process: 1) Exposure of the (digital) film, Development of the (digital) film, and Exposure of the print. You can read more on Filmulator in my article “Filmulator brings back traditional film processing in your Linux digital darkroom”.

https://www.reallinuxuser.com/filmulator-brings-back-traditional-film-processing-in-your-linux-digital-darkroom/

Image manipulation – GIMP

For image manipulation on a pixel level, it is GIMP for me. GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program, is an incredibly versatile application and the absolute winner and must-have for image creators and photo editors, and manipulators that use the Linux platform. It has really powerful functionalities for photo retouching, image composition, and image authoring, which offers many of the functionalities of the commercial sister Adobe Photoshop. GIMP uses a comparable user interface to Photoshop so newcomers for GIMP but who are experienced in Photoshop are able to have a quick and easy learning curve and can start right away. GIMP is in very active development.

You can more information on GIMP on the following website:

https://www.gimp.org

Video editing – DaVinci Resolve

I still have a soft spot for Shotcut. The user interface, the functionalities, the relative simplicity, the clear workflow, and the good results…if it actually works without crashes. I so much want Shotcut to be my preferred video editor, but because of those crashes which made me lose too much of my editing work, it made me switch to DaVinci Resolve. 

And DaVinci Resolve is great…incredibly great. It is not for nothing that this professional software from Blackmagic Design is used for editing and coloring big Hollywood blockbuster movies. And it is free to download for Linux. I really think there is nothing better that runs natively on Linux. 

When DaVinci resolve was originally only a color correction tool, it was the go-to coloring tool for many Hollywood films and major TV productions. But in the last couple of years, it has evolved into a complete editing suite with next to color correction, also non-linear editing, and professional audio post-production. DaVinci Resolve offers a set of powerful tools for video editing, color correction, audio post-production and visual effects. These functionalities are offered in a streamlined workflow. With a single click, you can instantly move between editing, color, effects, and audio. 

If you want to read more on DaVinci Resolve on this website read my article (although a bit old but still interesting) “DaVinci Resolve 15.1 is released for Linux“.

Or have a look at my article “How to install DaVinci Resolve on Ubuntu based Linux distros“, which I advise to read as installing DaVinci resolve on Linux is not as straightforward as other Linux applications.

Once installed you should have a look at my article “How to set up DaVinci Resolve for High Resolution displays in Linux“, if you use a high res display.

And have a look at my article “How to convert a video file for DaVinci Resolve with WinFF for Linux“, which is also described in the following section, which you need to convert your video files to be able to use in DaVinci Resolve.

Installing, setting up, and using DaVinci Resolve is a bit of a hassle when you start and it also has a kind of steep learning curve, but if you are serious about video editing or just an enthusiast, this piece of software is worth it.

Video Conversion – WinFF

I really enjoy video editing. As described above, In the past I used Shotcut as my main Non Linear Video editing software for Linux, but because of the issues described above, I pointed my attention to the highly professional DaVinci Resolve from Blackmagic Design, which has a free tier for Linux. And this is not a completely stripped-down version of their commercial product but offers almost all the functionalities that the paid version contains. But when you use the free version of DaVinci Resolve under Linux, the problem is that most video-capturing devices store the video data in a format that can’t be used directly in DaVinci resolve without first converting it to a format that DaVinci Resolve can work with. This is a problem that in theory only is the case for the free version of Linux, but I read in a lot of discussions on the internet that these issues also occur for the paid version and even for both versions on macOS and Windows. Personally, I was in trouble with both the video files coming from my Fuji X-T1 and Motorola G7 mobile phone. When I tried to import my video files, DaVinci Resolve only showed the container but no actual video or sound was available to work with.

DaVinci Resolve likes it when you convert your video material, like MP4, MKV, or MOV into a format that can be used by this application. There are different solutions for that. For Linux, there is a command line tool available named FFmpeg, which is a cross-platform application to convert all kinds of audio and video. But the problem for a lot of video enthusiasts is that they are visual people and like to edit video and not type complex and lengthy terminal commands each time they need to convert the footage. But there is a great graphical solution available called WinFF which uses FFmpeg behind the scenes but offers a much more friendly interface and a simple platform to drag and drop video files and do batch conversions. The idea is to add a one-time FFmpeg command in WinFF and after that, you can convert multiple video files in bulk from the graphical user interface.

You can find more on how to use WinFF to convert your video material for DaVinci Resolve in my article “How to convert a video file for DaVinci Resolve with WinFF for Linux“.

Desktop publishing – Scribus

Most people will probably agree that Scribus is the best desktop publishing application for the Linux platform. Scribus is a powerful page layout program for both amateurs and professionals. It is professionally used for magazine creation, book publishing, and manufacturing packaging material and product manuals. Scribus has a very friendly, logical, and intuitive interface, although it takes some learning time to get to real grips with it because of its extensive functionalities. Scribus offers professional desktop publishing features, like CMYK colors, spot colors, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation. But Scribus also offers powerful vector drawing tools so you can work with shapes, lines, colors, gradients, and patterns with all the benefits of vector-based design.

You can find more information on Scribus here:

Scribus homepage

Vector drawing – Inkscape

There are different vector graphics applications that can be used in Linux, both closed-source and open-source. Think about Gravit, Vectr, LibreOffice Draw, and sK1. But I think the most robust vector graphics application native available for Linux is Inkscape. According to many users, Inkscape is a true open-source alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Some highlights of what Inscape has to offer are freehand drawing with simple paths, creating Bézier curves and straight lines, freehand drawing using filled paths representing calligraphic strokes, shape tools, text tools, transformations, z-order operations, grouping objects, layers, node editing, converting to path, boolean operations, and much much more. When people ask me to create cards or logos, Inkscape is an important tool for my needs.

If you want to find out more about everything Inkscape has to offer go to:

https://inkscape.org

Artistic drawing – Krita

If you just like to draw, or if you are a professional matte painter that wants to use Open Source software or everything in between, Krita is the tool for you. It is an open-source drawing and painting tool for both amateur and professional concept artists, illustrators, matte artists, cartoonists, and texture artists. Important to know is that this application is developed by real artists and so with their experience in mind they can build precisely what they need themselves and expect others to need. Krita offers an intuitive user interface that does not get in the way of the most important things like the canvas. The dockers and panels can be moved and adapted to suit everyone’s specific workflow. When you don’t have a steady hand or if you just do not have a trained hand yet, then there is a stabilizer functionality available for the brush you want to use to smooth out irregular lines. Krita contains various ways to soften and stabilize brush strokes. There is even a special dynamic brush with which you can add drag and mass. And additional community-created brushes can be added as well. If you are creating comics there are built-in tools to create comic panels and text bubbles. And a while ago 2D animation capabilities were added to the toolset.

If you want to see what a real artist can do with Krita then you must have a look at what the amazing comic creator David Revoy produces in his complete Open Source based workflow. David Revoy is working only with free and open source software on his also free and open source webcomic project Pepper&Carrot he started in April 2014. He is in my opinion an important role model for what is possible with free and open-source software. And the developers of Krita think that as well as they use his art in the Krita splash page, but also include David’s custom brushes as standard.

You can find more about Krita here:

https://krita.org/en/

Text Editing – TextShine

Textshine is a single-task application originally developed for the elementary OS platform, but since it is available in Flatpak format it can be used on any Linux distribution. TextShine is an application that focuses entirely on converting text to a specific format easily and quickly. I do not mean the file format here, but the format in which the text itself is converted, such as well-known text presentations such as camel case, title case, upper case, lower case, etc. But also options such as indent, change to curved quotes, double to single quotes, remove leading whitespace, etc. TextShine is therefore a powerful tool to easily implement large amounts of standardized changes to a text. Consider, for example, a coding assignment for which a standard naming convention with camel case must be applied based on a list of attribute names, or a messed up text from which duplicate sentences must be cleaned.

TextShine is simple and doesn’t really need much explanation. Copy a text or part of a text from your document, spreadsheet, web page, etc, and paste the text into TextShine. Select all or part of the text there and choose an action from the options provided under Actions to adjust the text to your liking.

Read more about TextShine in my mini review “TextShine is a simple but powerful text modification tool for Linux“.

Tools

Reduce eye strain – SafeEyes

Much has been published for years about computer use and its harmful consequences if we do not implement proper measures for ourselves to limit excessive computer use. Next to the consequences of minimizing the amount of blue light in the evening, we also have to deal with looking at a screen for too much time without breaks. I really love computers and everything that I can do and create with it, and if my wife isn’t telling me once in a while that I am already working for hours without a break on my book, my blogs, my apps, or my photos, I keep sitting there forever. But last year I found SafeEyes which is a simple but very effective application for all Ubuntu-based Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Linux Mint.

The SafeEyes application is a reminder app that helps you to have a break once in a while to give your eyes and body some rest. But it is not only doing that. In each short break, it offers simple exercises like “Roll your eyes a few times to each side” or “Rotate your eyes in a clockwise direction”, but also “Walk for a while”. At that moment the screen goes black and you can’t do anything else but do some exercise. Of course, there is a skip button, but the whole point of SafeEyes is to help you think about the important health-related things in life. But really cool that you can define your own exercises as well.

Read my article “How to reduce eye strain and body strain with SafeEyes for Linux” to find out more about how to install and set up SafeEyes.

Screenshots – Shutter

As a blogger, for my website www.reallinuxuser.com, but also as a writer for my book in progress, I use a lot of screenshots to support my texts in a visual way. And in my opinion, Shutter is the best screenshot tool for Linux that supports my requirements. If you are a writer of technical manuals, writer of courses, or blogger about technology, and you need a tool that can capture parts of screens or complete windows fast and easy and in high volume, but also enables simple edits directly on the captured result, in my opinion, Shutter is the best choice for those needs.

Read more in my post “Shutter is the best screenshot tool for Linux“.

PDF Reader – Evince

For the non-Linux world, Adobe Acrobat Reader is the world standard for displaying, printing, annotating, and signing PDF documents. According to many Linux users, Evince is the best alternative for such functionalities for the Linux environment. Evince is a document viewer that can handle many single-page and multi-page document formats like PDF using the Poppler backend, Postscript using the libspectre backend, Multi-Page TIFF, DVI, and DjVu using the DjVuLibre backend. Evince has a very friendly user interface, within which it is easy to navigate through a clear hierarchical and cascading chapter structure. Evince can handle form-based documents and filled-in forms can be saved as a new PDF document.

You can download the Evince Flatpak here:

https://flathub.org/apps/details/org.gnome.Evince

PDF Editor – LibreOffice Draw

Mostly we need software to just read PDF files. But what if you want to edit an existing PDF file. LibreOffice Draw can handle PDF files very well, whether it is an individual page or a document with multiple pages. Draw is able to edit documents that have been made with, for example, a word processing program or a presentation program, on an element level. Page components can be selected and can then be manipulated, such as text format, color, and size. LibreOffice Draw is a great solution for these kinds of manipulations.

Music management – Clementine

There are quite a lot of music solutions available for Linux. I probably tried most of them. My music files are on a Synology NAS and I hoped to find a music player and organizer that can handle files on a NAS reliably and fast. A lot of applications seem to be very slow when opening the application because each time they need to build up the file overview from scratch. And with more than fifty thousand music files, this can take a while. In my opinion, Clementine handles large music libraries best and works perfectly together with NAS-based storage. And it works perfectly fine with my Apple iPod Classic as well. Clementine is a great piece of software.

You can find more on Clementine here:

https://www.clementine-player.org

You can download the most recent version of Clementine here:

https://flathub.org/apps/details/org.clementine_player.Clementine

Home administration – Homebank

I am a relatively organized person and I like to keep track of my personal finances to see where the money is going. There are some nice software solutions available for personal finance management, but in my opinion Homebank offers the most simple and clean interface, robust functionalities, and good interactive graphical representations of my financial status. Homebank has been translated by the community into more than 50 languages and can be set up for the situation in specific countries. Homebank has frequent releases and an active user community. It has good import functionalities, recognizes duplicate import candidates, has robust category management, makes it easy to change multiple financial items at once, offers nice drill-down interactive reports, etc. Homebank suddenly makes financial administration a lot less stressful and boring and even fun to do.

You can find more on Homebank here:

http://homebank.free.fr/en/

Web reading – Pocket

You probably know the situation when you browse on your mobile phone in a short free moment waiting for the train, and come across some interesting headlines that invite you to read on at a better time. In the case of a dynamic news site, for example, it makes no sense to create a bookmark, since the next time the news on that page will have been updated and your article can’t be found anymore. Personally, I think Pocket is a great solution for saving articles from the web in your private Pocket library so that they are available to read at a later time. You can tag articles to make them easier to categorize for future reference. It is also possible to create and save highlights. If you don’t feel like reading, but you do have time to listen, simply choose the option to have your stored articles read aloud. Pocket is offered by Mozilla, the privacy-focused organization behind the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email application. Pocket does not have an installable application for Linux, but it is available as an extension for your web browser. Plus, Pocket is available for all mobile platforms and synchronizes via your Mozilla account.

You can find more about Pocket here:

Pocket

Learning

Zettelkasten – Zenkit Hypernotes

Stop writing notes. Start creating knowledge. That’s where the Zenkit developers are trying to position their recent addition Hypernotes to their software suite.

I have been very busy in the recent past completing a mandatory curriculum prescribed by my employer. This curriculum included a few very tough subjects and associated mandatory exams. Like so many others, I make summaries of the material I’m trying to understand. Until not so long ago I simply briefly described the most important points that I encountered while reading and taking in the subject matter. But you often see yourself writing down many concepts repeatedly several times, so you also have to think about important connections between subjects. And specifically for those connections, a product like Hypernotes suddenly came into my mind. Hypernotes is a software product based on the Zettelkasten method. This method is, simply described, based on making short notes that are connected at key points. When you do this very extensively, as I did for my Azure AZ-304 exam, you build a very large semantic network of interconnected topics. You build these mutual connections on the basis of hyperlinks that link the notes to each other. That way you only have to describe each concept once and you can refer to related notes from a certain piece of summary. So optimal use of text and relationships. Visually it would look like this (simplified example), in which each node is an actual note, and each connection links notes together in an interactive way:

You can find Zenkit’s products, such as Hypernotes, in the Snapcraft store.

https://snapcraft.io/search?q=zenkit

Use the following link to download Zenkit Hypernotes.

https://snapcraft.io/hypernotes

Zenkit Hypernotes is just an example that I really like, but there are more and more alternatives out there to be used on Linux. I think for example the application Logseq looks really promising, which I will most probably write about in the near future.

Mind mapping – Minder

I use a mind mapping tool to support all my ideas, organization and decision-making. I am a very visual person when I want to be efficient and effective in my research and refinement. There are many open-source mind mapping applications available for Linux, but when I initially found the application Minder in the elementary OS AppCenter, I was blown away by the simplicity, flexibility, logical operation, and powerful features. And now that Minder is also available via the Flathub app store for Linux, I can use minder also on my favorite Linux distribution Zorin OS. You can choose from many tree layouts, add notes, tasks, and images to your nodes, add node-to-node connections, you can stylize nodes, links, and connections, do a quick search of node and connection titles and notes, including filtering options, and the list goes on and on.

You can find Minder for elementary OS here:

https://appcenter.elementary.io/com.github.phase1geo.minder/

You can find the Minder Flatpak here:

https://flathub.org/apps/details/com.github.phase1geo.minder

Take breaks – Go For It!

Although I don’t use elementary OS as my primary distribution, I really like the simplicity of a lot of their curated apps. One of these apps is Go For It!. Go For It! is a simple but nice and clean-looking productivity app for Elementary OS but can be installed in other operating systems as well as it is offered as a Flatpack package. This application distinguishes itself from other simple to-do applications by the integration of actions to be performed and time management. The app wants to help you to focus on your current task and take healthy breaks to start with a new task fresh.

Go For It! is a completely free and open-sourced piece of software, which has been created in the Vala programming language, the language that is being used for a lot of other Elementary OS focussed apps. Also, the UI (user interface) is created, according to the developer, by following some of the design principles described by the Elementary OS development team, so it fits neatly in the look and feel paradigm of the Elementary OS ecosystem.

Go For It! is clearly not an extensive application with an immense list of functionalities, but has a minimalistic foundation with only the most important functionalities. Less is more fits the bill here and is in line with the simplicity of Elementary OS and its curated apps.

When you want to read more about the installation and setup process and how the application works, you can read my article “Go For It merges to-do and timer functionality in one handy productivity app“.

Development

Coding – Visual Studio Code

There are numerous coding environments available for Linux. Think about Eclipse, Bluefish, NetBeans, or Brackets. My preferred platform for web development is Visual Studio Code. This choice for Visual Studio Code is not because I think it is so much better than other development environments, but because it is convenient for me as it is being used in the courses I already finished and the ones I am still doing, so I can exactly follow along with the course material that is being presented. There are many other development environments that offer a lot of the same, so I don’t have a strong opinion here on what you should use. What I really like is the strong IntelliSense functionality that offers smart completions based on variable types, function definitions, and imported modules. Further, it has Git commands built-in. And there is an enormous amount of extensions available to adapt Visual Studio Code exactly to your specific requirements.

You can find more on Visual Studio Code here:

https://code.visualstudio.com

And what are my absolute favorite applications?

After reading through the above list, the question that some of you may have is which application was my absolute favorite in the past year? Well, there are actually two that I use absolutely every day.

Joplin: I am addicted to taking notes. I strongly believe in the concept that your brain is not made to remember things, but to create things. We are creators, not databases. As stated before, for many years I used Evernote as my digital brain, or my permanent storage functionality for long-time reference and note-taking. But when I started my Linux journey and I had the fantastic challenge of finding alternative software solutions, I came across Joplin. And Joplin is in my opinion by far the best open source, platform independent, note-taking tool, natively available for Linux, but also on all mobile devices, with sync capabilities with various cloud services including Nextcloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, WebDAV or the file system. I think that as Linux and open-source enthusiasts we are greatly enriched by a tool like Joplin. Give it a try. You will be surprised at the powerful capabilities and flexibility that Joplin offers. I use it all day every day.

Pocket: I am also addicted to reading, mainly non-fiction. Next to non-fiction books, I also love to browse the web for new nice articles on productivity, building a second brain, life improvement, minimalism, simple living, applications, tech, etc. But I prefer to read these articles in my own time, at a moment that is most convenient for me. Often that is when I am in bed, waiting for the train, sitting outside on a bench in the park, or when I am in the smallest room in my house. Since I don’t want to lose or forget the articles I find, I want to store them so I can read them later. Pocket is great for that specific purpose. With Pocket, you can store from every application on your phone, tablet, or web browser, the article you are interested in, and read it later distraction-free without all kinds of ads around the text. And if you don’t want to read, you can listen to it as well. And because you store all your articles in Pocket, it is a reference for later with everything you read in the past and want to go back to when necessary. 

Final words

And so we reached the end of my favorite apps overview, which hopefully can give some inspiration for you in the new year. A list that is of course personal to me and can look different for everyone else. But by sharing this kind of information and the reasoning behind my choices, I hope I can help some of you start using applications that you may not have known or considered using. Next to creating my own, I also like to read these kinds of lists from others, because it gives me new ideas and keeps the drive to keep trying new things and investigating new things, alive. If you want to share your list, please feel free via my contact page.

Linux and everything around it is a fantastic hobby for me and I notice that others get excited when I talk to them about the possibilities of Linux. Only if we share our enthusiasm with friends, colleagues, etc, is it possible to turn what I believe to be the wrong image of Linux in the right direction, namely a productive, simple, beautiful, and user-friendly platform, as the old image of too technical, too complex and not user-friendly has long been gone.

To end this article, I wish you have fun trying out some of the applications from this list and I hope to talk to you again soon via a new article. A very merry Christmas and much love and health to your friends and family in 2023.


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About John Been

Hi there! My name is John Been. At the moment I work as a senior solution engineer for a large financial institution, but in my free time, I am the owner of RealAppUser.com, RealLinuxUser.com, and author of my first book "Linux for the rest of us". I have a broad insight and user experience in everything related to information technology and I believe I can communicate about it with some fun and knowledge and skills.

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