Start Using Your New Desktop
Depending on the Linux distribution you have installed, you will have different desktop environments. For example, Gnome 3 is used by Ubuntu while Linux Mint is using Cinnamon by default.
Other popular desktop environments include KDE Plasma, XFCE, Mate & Pantheon.
Set It Up/Customize It/Make It Your Own
Although each desktop environment in Linux comes with its own settings, they are all much better organized and easy to tweak compared to how the same options are organized in Windows. In other words, if you are able to make sense of Windows 10 settings, customizing your Linux desktop environment will be child’s play.
Run the Settings app found in your distribution’s main menu and go through the categories of options, one by one, to:
- Choose a theme
- Change the wallpaper
- Control notifications
- Select your preferred applications
- Sync online accounts
- Set up sharing
- Configure your hardware
A lot of the software you probably used in Windows is also available for Linux. For some of the more prominent commercial applications, though, like Microsoft Office, or the members of Adobe’s suite, you will have to use the web versions or find alternatives. Thankfully, most of them are more than up to the task, so you won’t feel like you’re missing something
Some of the most popular apps for different tasks are:
- Browsers: Firefox, Chrome, , Brave, Opera, Vivaldi, Chromium
- Messaging & Social media: Skype, Zoom, Telegram, Viber, Slack, Signal
- Email clients: Thunderbird, Evolution, Geary
- Screen recording and streaming: Kazam, OBS Studio
- Screen capture utility: Spectacle
- Apps for gamers: Steam, Discord
- Antivirus: you don’t need one
- Productivity/Office: LibreOffice, Apache Open office, Microsoft 365 online (through Ice SSB app)
- Note-taking Apps: Joplin, Simplenote, QOwnNotes
- Pdf editing tools: LibreOffice Draw, Okular, PDF Studio
- Audio/Video: VLC, Audacity, Audacious, Kdenlive, Handbrake
- Graphics/Photo Editing: GIMP, Darktable, InkScape
- Paint program: KolourPaint
- Cloud storage/File sharing: Dropbox, pCloud, Mega, Google Drive, One Drive (through Ice SSB app)
Our recommended Apps:
(all apps are open-source and mostly available through your Linux distros’ software centre)
Brave is available as a fast, free and secure open-source web browser. Complete with a built-in ad blocker that prevents tracking and provides security protection with optimized data and battery performance. The new Brave browser blocks ads and trackers that slow you down and invade your privacy.
DuckDuckGo Search engine
DuckDuckGo is an internet search engine that emphasizes protecting searchers’ privacy and avoiding the filter bubble of personalized search results. DuckDuckGo distinguishes itself from other search engines by not profiling its users and by showing all users the same search results for a given search term.
Evolution Mail and Calendar
Contacts Management: Built-in address book for contacts management.
Calendar Integration: Calendar integration with your email account.
Task Manager: Built-in task management tool.
Notes: Evolution includes a note-taking tool.
Filters & Folder: Custom virtual folder support for search queries and filters.
Junk Mail Filter: Includes spam filter powered by SpamAssassin.
Privacy & Security: Evolution supports both PGP & S/MIME encryption.
Plugins: Plugins support for various functionalities.
Spectacle is a simple application for capturing desktop screenshots. It can capture images of the entire desktop, a single monitor, the currently active window, the window currently under the mouse, or a rectangular region of the screen. The images can then be printed, sent to other applications for manipulation, or quickly be saved as-is.
The Ice Application
Ice SSB (Site-Specific Browser) allows you integrate many of the modern web applications into your menus. These web-based applications will look as if they were installed on your system and they will have regular icons in the menus. This works very similar to Chromium’s “Create Application Shortcuts…” tool; however, the Chromium tool does not integrate with the system menu. Ice not only integrates in your menu, it allows you to customize your icon.
Using the Ice application you can integrate many web applications to your menu including but not limited to Microsoft Office 365‘s online apps, One Drive, Google Drive , etc … . The application runs fast enough and many modern web applications offer much advanced functionality so that you won’t need to install their heavy weight paid version alternatives of these applications.
SSBs allow an application to function in more of a standalone method than running them directly through the web browser. In addition they allow for the user to take advantage of additional screen space as they don’t include all the functions and menus of a browser.
Joplin (note taking app)
Joplin is a free, open source note taking and to-do application, which can handle a large number of notes organised into notebooks. The notes are searchable, can be copied, tagged and modified either from the applications directly or from your own text editor. The notes are in Markdown format.
The notes can be synchronised with various cloud services including Nextcloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, WebDAV or the file system (for example with a network directory). The application is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android and iOS
Simplenote is an easy way to take notes, create to-do lists, capture ideas, and more. Open it, jot down some thoughts, and you’re done. As your collection grows, stay organized with tags and pins, and find what you need with instant search. Since Simplenote will sync across your devices for free, your notes are with you at all times.
Okular (document viewer)
Okular is a multiplatform document viewer developed by the KDE community. This application lets you view many types of documents, serving as a versatile program that helps you be more productive. It opens just about any document, no matter the document, it’s almost certain that Okular will open it. PDFs, EPUBs, JPGs, and many others are no match for this fast performing app.
GIMP (image editor)
GIMP is a free and open-source raster graphics editor used for image manipulation and image editing, free-form drawing, transcoding between different image file formats, and more specialized tasks. GIMP is released under GPLv3+ license and is available for Linux, macOS, and Microsoft Windows. It is an excellent open-source photo editing program with a list of tools for the user to edit their photos.
KolourPaint is a free and open-source graphics editor by KDE. It is a simple painting program to quickly create raster images. It is useful as a touch-up tool and is suitable for simple image editing tasks.
pCloud (cloud storage service)
The Swiss-based pCloud has an impressive list of features at a price point that makes it a very appealing choice for sharing large files with friends and family or to sync them across all your devices.
pCloud offers all the essential features you’d expect from a sharing and syncing service. To begin with, in addition to an intuitive web interface, pCloud also has clients for all the major desktop operating systems including Windows, macOS, and Linux as well as apps for Android and iOS.
Besides sharing, you can also use the desktop app to sync any local folder from your desktop to your pCloud account. On top of it, the service does block level syncing, which means the transfers will be a lot faster as only parts of the files that have changed need to be synced.
The above apps are only a few examples of many open-source applications available through your Linux distribution’s software centre, or directly through the application’s web sites. Please refer to our Download page to learn more about downloading and installing applications into your Linux system.