Seven killer Linux apps that will change how you work

Here are seven killer Linux office productivity apps you may not know about.

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Linux productivity tools

The sheer number of Linux apps available today is mind boggling and one category in particular has exploded over the last few years … productivity tools. While there are a few well-known apps such as LibreOffice and NeoOffice (both forks of OpenOffice), there are many more tools that will make your work easier. Here are seven killer Linux office productivity apps you may not know about … and note that many of them are also available for OS X and Windows, so if you have to hop between operating systems, you can keep at least a semblance of consistency.

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If you need a programming and Web content editor that’s really sophisticated but lightweight and flexible, you have to check out Bluefish. What I really like about Bluefish is it loads fast, supports projects (groups of files), has auto-completion and auto-tag closing, understands many programming languages, and includes site upload and download ability. And that’s just scratching the surface of what Bluefish can do.

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Need to work with databases? Kexi is the Linux equivalent of Microsoft Access and very similar in use. Available as part of the Calligra office suite, Kexi is a visual database creator and user interface. Bundled with SQLite and compatible with MySQL and PostgreSQL databases (for both import and export), Kexi is fast and stable. A tool for migrating from Microsoft Access is available and it provides APIs covering most of its functionality.

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If you’re into Getting Things Done, live and die by lists, or you want to keep notes or a journal, then Zim could be just what you need. Free and open source, Zim is a lightweight multimedia "desktop personal wiki" that does a whole lot more than just handle text and images. Through plug-ins Zim can check your spelling, perform calculations and create calendars. You can use Zim to create HTML for online publishing and there’s an embedded web server to publish live content. Simple, elegant and thoroughly useful.

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When you’re writing it can be hard to maintain your focus. You’ve got email popping up in one window, social media in another, any number of apps waiting for your attention … it feels like there’s a conspiracy to distract you. This is where Focuswriter comes in. Focuswriter is a word processor designed to exclude distraction. As you can see above, there’s nothing to do but write. It’s highly customizable, has optional autosave, and can even produce typewriter sounds if you want to feel like you’re doing it old skool.

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Any Linux user worth her salt will learn to love the command line because, while GUI-based apps are great, there’s lot of things that can be done from the command line faster and more flexibly. However, launching a terminal session is a speed reducing road bump. To boost your productivity you need Guake, a drop-down command terminal for Gnome desktops. Install it, press the default F12 key and voila! Using KDE? Check out Yakuake. GTK+? You want Tilda. All of these tools are free and open source.

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Krita Desktop

If you do any graphics work you should take a look at Krita Desktop, a really impressive free, open source, painting tool that rivals Adobe Photoshop on features and makes a lot of graphics work flow much easier.

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If you’re looking for a Linux email client don’t bother with Thunderbird … it’s not getting much love from Mozilla any more. Nope, if you want a really outstanding desktop email client Evolution is what you should be taking a serious look at. Compatible with Microsoft Exchange 2007/2010 and OpenChange servers, Evolution provides email, calendaring, contacts, memos and tasks. Think of it as Outlook without the baggage.

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Tell us about your favorites

As a Linux user your choice of applications increases every day and it’s now possible to find apps for Linux that rival if not transcend anything you can find for Windows or OS X. The collection of Linux apps outlined here are some of the best apps I know of but, given the rate of expansion of the Linux universe, there are undoubtedly apps I have yet to explore. If you know of any that you think are world class, let me know at

ALSO: Ultimate guide to Linux desktop environments

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