Essential applications for Linux, Mac OS X, Windows

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A list of all the applications that I use, on various platforms.

Linux Applications

Packaging Systems (on Gentoo)

  • emerge
    THE only one tool that you will ever need.

Console Applications

  • htop
    Small utility to monitor your system's resource usage (CPU and RAM).
  • nano
    Good console text editor.
  • screen
    Utility to allow to launch long commands on remote hosts, disconnect and later reconnect to your previous session.
  • wgetpaste
    Excellent small utility to post to an online paste service.


  • Dolphin
    Best file manager available on any platform due to its excellent integration with any protocol (SFTP, FTP, etc).


  • Chromium
    The best browser available today for Linux.
  • Firefox
    The standard open-source browser that you can trust. Emerge netscape-flash or gnash to get Flash support.
  • Opera
    Another good web browser. Development tools are awful, and not free.
  • Thunderbird
    Good open-source email client from Mozilla.
  • Filezilla
    Best fully featured FTP client currently available on Linux.
  • Konversation
    IRC client for KDE, better integration with KDE than X-Chat.
  • X-Chat
    Open-source IRC client. Discontinued.
  • Kopete
    Excellent, ultra-customizable multi-protocol IM client.
  • Pidgin
    Open-source multi-protocol IM client. Not bad.
  • Krdc
    VNC / Rdesktop client for KDE.
  • TightVNC
    VNC client.
  • Skype
    Non free VoIP communication tool. The Linux client is of very poor quality.
  • Ekiga
    SIP (Audio / Video) client. For webcams or remote conferences. Very buggy still.
  • aMule
    Best client for eMule P2P networks.
  • kTorrent
    Nice client for torrent downloads.
  • Eiskalt DC ++
    Client for Direct Connect networks.


  • GCC
    The whole GNU tool chain will be of course included in the system.
  • Eclipse
    Excellent, complex IDE for Java and other languages as well with plugins.
  • Kate
    Lightweight text editor.
  • Quanta
    Good text editor oriented towards web development (PHP, Javascript, HTML).
  • KDevelop
    Very good IDE for C/C++ development.
  • Subversion with KDEsvn
    Excellent source management system. KDEsvn is the best GUI front-end available currently under KDE. It has Konqueror integration.
  • Kompare
    Good program to visualize diffs.
  • Kdiff3
    GUI for the diff3 utility. Needed to create patches.
  • Okteta
    This is an hex editor, sometimes useful.


  • Okular
    Free PDF viewer. Lighter than Acrobat Reader. Can reload files instantly, so very useful for LaTeX development. In theory can also open .epub and .mobi files.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
    To read PDF files.
  • FBReader
    Epub / mobi / azw reader. Can open files with problems (missing images) better than Calibre. Exists on Android too.
  • Calibre
    Epub / mobi / azw reader. Can manage a library but has more problems with the reader part than FBReader.
  • OpenOffice
    Necessary to open Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.
  • KAddressBook
    Good address book / contact manager.
  • PortableSigner
    Tool in Java to electronically sign a PDF document. Comes with a Swing interface.


  • Gwenview
    Excellent KDE image viewer.
  • Inkscape
    Excellent SVG editor. Same as Adobe Illustrator.
  • The GIMP
    Excellent graphics manipulation program. Can be automated via scripts.
  • Digikam
    Very good image library management program. Very useful as well to find image duplicates (by content / similarity).
  • Geeqie
    Also able to search for image duplicates (but worse than Digikam).
  • Skanlite
    Application to scan documents from a scanner. Minimalistic but decent.


  • K3b
    Nice GUI to burn CDs/DVDs. Also able to rip audio CDs to Ogg / Flac / MP3.
  • Amarok
    iTunes like audio player and collection manager.
  • MPlayer
    This is the player that will play almost all your media files. On Linux the built-in GUI is OK.
  • VLC
    It will play less files than MPlayer, but is still good. Allows streaming over a network.
  • Picasa
    Photo organizer from Google. Not good for viewing single files.
  • Gwenview
    Best image viewer (for collections).
  • Showimg
    Excellent image viewer.
  • Comix
    Really excellent viewer for reading comics.
  • Kdenlive
    A video editor with advanced features.
  • Avidemux
    A tool that allows you to split videos with a GUI (among other things).


  • Tellico
    Organizes a collection. Can be used with file collections, although it is not ideal.
  • Basenji
    Modern and actively developed file indexer.
  • smartmontools
    Tool to monitor the SMART status of your hard drive.
  • phoronix-test-suite
    benchmarking tool. It is actually a test suite manager, you can install and run many different test suites.
  • bonnie / bonnie++
    I/O (hard drive) benchmarking tool.

Emulation & Virtualization

  • Wine
    This is absolutely necessary to play Blizzard games (Warcraft III), and many other Windows games as well. Latest versions are really impressive.
  • VirtualBox
    A free and excellent virtualization software. Allows you to run Windows natively on your Linux guest OS.
  • DosBox
    Emulator for the DOS operating system, allows you to play old PC games.
  • Qcmame
    Front-end for the SDLMame Linux version.
  • GXMame
    Front-end for the XMame Linux version (obsolete, does not work anymore with SDLMame).
  • Gens
    Sega Genesis emulator.
  • Yabause
    Sega Saturn emulator.


  • Battle for Wesnoth
    A great wargame with nice art.
  • Majesty
    Native port of the great fantasy kingdom simulation game.
  • Pingus
    Free clone of Lemmings, excellent.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein
    Native port of the FPS game.

Mac OS X Applications

Packaging Systems

  • SoftwareUpdate
    Built-in (from Apple), will only update the OS and Apple applications. Very easy.
  • Fink
    Large repository of UNIX open-source software.
  • DarwinPorts
    Other package manager. The repository has a lot of server software. Easy to use.


  • Mail
    Free as in beer (from Apple), good client except for the Spotlight search feature taking hours (and not returning anything useful, generally).
  • Thunderbird
    Good open-source email client from Mozilla.
  • Firefox
    The standard open-source browser that you can trust.
  • Safari
    Probably the best browser available for OS X (very fast). Based on Konqueror so should be open.
  • Cyberduck
    FTP client, open-source. I don't like it that much but it seems one of the best for the Mac.
  • X-Chat Aqua
    Open-source IRC client. Not awesome, but ok.
  • Fire
    Open-source multi-protocol IM client.


  • GCC
    Included in the system from Apple.
  • X-Code
    Good IDE for C++/Objective-C/Java, unfortunately only available on the Mac. It manages its own build system, but this is not portable.


  • iTunes
    Excellent audio player.
  • MPlayer
    Best video player available on the Mac, but should be compiled from source. The binaries versions are not maintained it seems. Also, the GUI sucks. Update: new binaries seem available directly from the official site.
  • VLC
    It will play less files than MPlayer, but the Mac port is official and better.
  • Adobe Photoshop
    Best image editing program.
  • Roxio Toast
    Good CD/DVD-burning software, but not free.


  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
    Essential to read PDF files.
  • Address Book
    Nice contact book manager.


  • Built-in Unarchiver
    It will decompress .tar, .zip, and other formats. Nice integration into the Finder.
  • CDFinder
    Organizes a CD/DVD collection. Good but not multiplatform nor Open-Source.
  • CDCat 
    Organizes a CD/DVD collection. Free as in speech, multiplatform, uses Qt3. But you must compile it yourself.
  • smartmontools 
    Tool to monitor the SMART status of your hard drive. If you install using the Apple installer, the daemon will be automatically launched at startup (remove the StartupItem to prevent that).

Windows Applications


  • MinGW
    This allows you to use the GCC compiler on Windows, allowing your applications to be portable.
  • Eclipse
    Excellent, complex IDE for Java and other languages as well with plugins.
  • Notepad++
    Very good lightweight text editor.
  • TortoiseSVN
    Excellent GUI front-end for Subversion.


  • Avira
    Free antivirus tool.