Finding apps for Linux is both simple and complicated. For decades now, you’ve only had to open a package manager or app store and type in the name of the program you’re looking for. Ended. Easy.
But as a new Linux user, chances are you don’t know what you’re looking for. And with the faster release of new software, advanced users can easily miss out on the latest discoveries. Fortunately, several websites have popped up that do a great job of introducing you to Linux apps that you have never seen before.
Flathub is a universal app store with software that you can install regardless of which Linux distribution you are using. The programs here are available in Flatpak format, which a number of distributions have chosen as the universal app package format of choice.
Fedora Silverblue and Endless OS distribute everything as Flatpak, and since version 6.0, Basic OS has evolved in the same direction.
Flathub is mainly championed by the GNOME community, so you can find many applications here that are suitable for this particular desktop. Given GNOME’s position as the default desktop in most Linux distributions, this is not a problem for most users.
That said, Flathub is not limited to GNOME. Most of the apps here are desktop independent, especially games. Flathub is also home to a growing number of well-known commercial and proprietary apps such as Steam, Discord, and Slack.
Installing applications from Flathub
Flathub places setup instructions at the top of the home page. Some distributions come with Flatpak preinstalled. If you are using GNOME, all you need to do is click on the To install button under an application to get the goods.
If you are not using GNOME, you can follow the command line instructions to add Flathub to the list of sources that your distribution is looking for software. You can also, regardless of the distribution, turn to the command line to install and remove programs.
The flat The command does a great job of guessing what program you’re looking for even if you don’t know the correct name. You can also copy and paste installation commands directly from the website.
Snap Store is another universal app store that has revolutionized the ease of finding apps for Linux. As the default app store for Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distro, the Snap Store probably gets more traffic.
Snap Store uses the snap format, which works on virtually all Linux distributions. It comes from Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, which has run a massive campaign to help and encourage other companies to release their software for Linux as an instant package.
As a result, the Snap Store contains a much larger amount of proprietary software. This and other aspects of the instant design limit the store’s appearance to free and open source software enthusiasts, but it’s a great destination for people switching from macOS or Windows hoping to see if a program they are already using is also available for Linux.
KDE Plasma users will also find more of their desktop apps available at a glance than a flatpak.
Installing apps from the Snap Store
There is a To install at the top right of the page containing the desired application. When you click on this button, a menu appears. Ubuntu users just need to press the button that appears prompting them to open the app in their desktop store.
If you are using another distribution, this menu will link you to the snapd setup instructions, which is needed to install the snaps. If you’re already good to go, you can copy and paste the command provided.
The KDE Project provides a how-to page listing over 200 community-produced applications. This software is intended for KDE Plasma, but you can use it on any Linux desktop. Some are also available on Windows and macOS.
Even though KDE Plasma isn’t the most used Linux desktop, its community is by far the most prolific when it comes to building apps.
Far from recreating and redesigning the basics, the KDE community also offers applications for more advanced features, such as office suites and various multimedia authoring tools. There is also KDE Connection, to synchronize your phone and your PC together, and Kirogi, an application for piloting drones.
The KDE page is great for helping plasma purists find all the software designed specifically for their desktop, as these are the apps that will fit in best.
Installing Applications from KDE.org
KDE.org does not provide applications directly. Each application contains a To install button that integrates with your Linux app store, such as KDE Discover or GNOME software. If an app is not available in your distribution’s repositories, this button will fail to open the app.
Applications available through other means contain buttons to other distribution methods. As of this writing, there are no links to the Snap Store, but download buttons through Flathub often appear. The educational app for children GCunderstood even includes links to F-Droid, Google Play, and the Microsoft Store.
The GNOME Project also provides a list of applications available for the GNOME desktop. Unlike KDE, which provides a comprehensive list of old and new programs, GNOME’s list mainly contains those that adhere to current desktop design guidelines.
Everything from app icons to theme and layout will be largely consistent across software here. If you like the look and feel of GNOME, this web page is the place to be.
GNOME’s catalog is not as long as KDE’s, and you won’t find software as complex as those in digiKam and Kdenlive. But the GNOME team provides a useful amount of information about each application. In addition to download links and relevant web pages, GNOME also introduces you to the maintainers of each application, putting names and faces behind the code.
Installing applications from GNOME.org
GNOME is integrated with Flathub, so every application listed contains a link to this site. Currently, some GNOME Core apps are not yet listed in part because they are not yet available on Flathub. But at the moment, the page is very recent, and all that could change soon.
An AppCenter for everyone?
The above pages list all the applications that you can install on most versions of Linux. Another site is in the process of making the list. As part of the AppCenter for Everyone campaign, the Basic OS team worked to make the AppCenter apps available for other distributions.
Appcenter.elementary.io lists the applications available for the basic operating system. To access some of them on other distributions, you can add elementary items AppCenter Flatpak remote control repository on your system.
If you want or need to manually add software repositories to your Linux computer, here is a step by step guide to do so.
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