Flatpaks and other universal packaging formats are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. Flatpak in particular targets a wide variety of Linux distributions and makes configuration fairly simple for everyone. This means that if I find a group of Flatpaks that I really like, I can get them on Fedora, Solus, Endless OS, Mageia, elementaryOS, Gentoo or Clear Linux, among others. In honor of the incredible cross-distribution nature of Flatpaks, this article will highlight the top five most useful productivity Flatpaks.
A little word: these are not just Flatpaks from the “Productivity” category on Flathub. Some of them are, but they are meant to show you the breadth of tools available to you to help you get things done in your day.
1. Apostrophe: an elegant and distraction-free markdown editor
Markdown is one of those tools that many in the open source community know how to use and many want to know how to use. One of the best ways to learn markdown is through the open-source Joplin note taking app. They teach most of the basics, including headers, basic list formatting, line breaks, and link and image integration.
Apostropheis however intended for those who already know about markdown. It’s a very simple interface, which I like. It really goes out of your way as advertised. Another thing I really like about Apostrophe as markdown editor is that it doesn’t have a preview pane unless you specifically ask for it. As I became familiar with markdown, I just wanted to write, then see what the text would look like later.
2. LibreOffice: a complete office productivity suite
LibreOffice is a loyal member of the Linux desktop community. As an office suite of choice, it answers the question: “How will I work on my spreadsheets under Linux?” He has some useful tips up his sleeve. But, one of the biggest things that happened to LibreOffice was when it became a Flatpak. This allowed an office suite fully compatible with the MS Office format on a wide variety of distributions. Do I need to say more?
3. Remmina: an easy-to-use remote desktop client
This is where “productivity” takes a more subjective turn. Remmina is for everyone who manages multiple remote or virtual machines, and you want to have a very user-friendly remote desktop client. You can connect to multiple machines in a single window with a single tab view, take clean screenshots, enter keyboard input, and redirect USB devices from the control panel.
All of this is huge for someone who typically runs multiple virtual machines for testing and demonstration. Virtual machines typically involve QEMU / KVM virtualization controlled by
virsh from the terminal and a remote desktop client to view output from the virtual machine’s display server. Thanks to Remmina, it’s very easy for me to have both an Ubuntu and RHEL virtual machine running at the same time to test the same processes on two different distributions. You can also separate the two tabs, but going back and forth is pretty easy.
4. Audacity: a powerful audio recorder and editor
For anyone who does any type of audio work, Audacity is a must-have application. It has a ton of plugins and different features that make recording and editing podcasts, voiceovers or music a breeze. I assume that many of the most popular Linux and open source podcasts use Audacity as the audio processing program of their choice.
Before the team releases the Audacity Flatpak, it was a challenge to get Audacity on Linux simply. You can add a PPA to Ubuntu or Mint or build it from source. It’s great, but it doesn’t make for a great experience for first-time users. The Flatpak completely alleviates this and allows easy downloading from a software center.
5. Firefox: the essential open-source web browser
Another long-time member of the FOSS community, Firefox is the standard by which many other open source browsers are held. Now with Mozilla releasing an official Firefox Flatpak, they catapulted themselves into the hands of many Flatpak users. Fedora has had a Firefox Flatpak for quite some time, but now many distributions that focus on Flatpaks will be able to give their users a stable, contained, and official version of Firefox to use and enjoy. You’ll also be able to get the latest version of Firefox on something like CentOS, which uses a Firefox ESR and doesn’t have many of the new Firefox features.
A web browser is essential to get the job done these days. Whether you are researching a technical issue, sending an email through some sort of webmail provider, or just buying from an e-commerce website, many people can spend several days just opening ‘Browser. This is especially true now with the advent of web interfaces for many different systems that you will administer. If you don’t have a good web browser by your side, you will be very stuck.
I hope you have learned something new about Flatpaks or discovered a new Flatpak that you would like to try. If it piqued your interest in Flatpaks, be sure to learn how to get started with Flatpaks on Fedora and how to install Windows games on Linux with Winepak.
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