My Favorite Software for GNU/Linux and Android (work in progress)

I just wanted to post about software I use or keep an eye on, so here it is.

I split this list between software for the GNU/Linux desktop and mobile/Android applications, as well as adding some web applications/websites to the list. This list is mostly for myself for keeping track on projects/software, to know where I should donate money, and to know what applications to install when I just installed a new distribution. Most of the software is open source (some entries might contain binary blobs, like the Linux kernel).

I try not to add software that is part of desktop environments like KDE or Xfce, since that kind of software often comes with the desktop environment and is installed by default. But I do absolutely appreciate applications like Konsole, Okular, Kate, Dolphin, Spectacle, and such. Other applications that I’m not adding to the list are applications that are often shipped with GNU/Linux distributions out of the box, like Bash and Python.

Remember, these are applications/services/products that interest me, so the list doesn’t include things for all use cases, of course.

Desktop/Server

Operating systems

Qubes OS – A security-oriented operating system which provides security by compartmentalization, which allows you to compartmentalize the various parts of your digital life into securely isolated compartments called qubes.

Tails – A live operating system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to circumvent censorship and leave no trace unless you ask it to explicitly. It routes your Internet traffic over Tor.

OpenBSD – A real secure and open operating system. Unlike the Linux kernel, their kernel is only free software. They are known for their security focus, code correctness/quality and good documentation. Also, they are the ones behind OpenSSH.

Kali Linux – A penetration testing and ethical hacking Linux distribution. Maintained and funded by Offensive Security.

Manjaro Linux – A user-friendly GNU/Linux distribution based on Arch Linux. It’s Arch Linux made simple and with nice looks out of the box. It’s a rolling release distribution.

Antergos – A rolling release GNU/Linux distribution based on Arch Linux. It’s Arch Linux made simple and not that different from Manjaro Linux. They develop their own installer called Cnchi which I find interesting.

OpenMediaVault – A network attached storage (NAS) solution based on Debian.

Whonix – A desktop operating system designed for advanced security and privacy. It uses the Tor network to route traffic around the Internet. Whonix runs on top of another operating system and uses virtualization technology. Whonix is designed for privacy and security.

Devuan GNU+Linux – A fork of Debian (an operating system), but without systemd. Init freedom!

Parabola GNU/Linux-libre – A fully free, simple, and lightweight operating system. Based on packages from Arch Linux. This is my favorite GNU/Linux distribution that consists of only free software, down to the kernel.

Subgraph OS – A distribution based on Debian which is designed with features which aim to reduce the attack surface of the operating system, and increase the difficulty required to carry out certain classes of attack. Subgraph OS runs exposed or vulnerable applications in sandbox environments. This sandbox framework, known as Oz, unique to Subgraph OS, is designed to isolate applications from each other and the rest of the system. Access to system resources are only granted to applications that need them. Subgraph OS features a hardened kernel and built-in Tor integration. It also includes an application firewall that will detect and alert the user of unexpected outbound connections by applications. At the time of writing Subgraph OS is still in the alpha stage, but it’s still a very interesting project.

Miscellaneous

Tor Project/Tor Browser – Tor is a network which helps you stay anonymous by bouncing your Internet traffic around relays/nodes. That can also hide your real location. The Tor Browser gives you access to the Tor network (and Internet) in a simple manner.

Docker – A containerization platform. Fast (and simple?) deployment of your server software.

Flatpak – A way to build and install standalone desktop applications on GNU/Linux. The Flatpak solution is security focused by using sandboxing technology which prevents exploits and hinders malicious applications.

Syncthing – A file synchronization application where you are in control of you files, not some random web service. You can use it offline and/or over the Internet. The administration of it all is handled in your web browser of choice and all data transmitted is encrypted.

AirVPN/Eddie – A VPN operated by activists and hacktivists in defence of net neutrality, privacy and against censorship. I did my research on them and AirVPN sounds good. I’m happy with their product and use it myself these days. Eddie is the name of their VPN client application.

VeraCrypt – An application for disk-, partition- and device encryption and is a fork of the discontinued TrueCrypt project. It provides plausible deniability. VeraCrypt got audited by QuarksLab in 2016.

KeePassXC – A password manager which is a fork of KeePassX.

Common Voice – Mozilla’s initiative to help teach machines how real people speak. It’s a project to help make voice recognition open to everyone. Please help out with this project, you might find it meaningful and fun.

Godot – A 2D and 3D game engine.

Signal – A communication solution developed by Open Whisper Systems with end-to-end encryption for messages and (video) calls. It isn’t decentralized, but they can’t spy on your data or communication because of the cryptographic solution.

Cinnamon – A desktop environment that is developed by the Linux Mint team. It’s intuitive and doesn’t get in your way. Maybe not the most modern or innovative desktop environment, but that isn’t what I’m looking for anyway.

QupZilla/Falkon – A QtWebEngine web browser that is now a KDE Project. The browsers new name is Falkon.

Plasma – KDEs desktop environment. This is my favorite desktop environment at the moment. Modern considering both how it’s built and it’s look. You can customize it more or less how you want.

Cryptocat – An application for chatting and sharing files with friends. Every message is encrypted by default.

Nextcloud – A self-hosted file sharing and communication platform. Nextcloud is a fork of ownCloud. Use it to store files, organize contacts, use calendars, and communicate and collaborate accross the platform. With it you can even make video calls.

I2P – An anonymous overlay network (a network within a network). It’s intended to protect communication from surveillance and monitoring by third parties such as ISPs.

DNSCrypt – A protocol to improve DNS security. It authenticates communications between a DNS client and a DNS resolver. That way it can prevent DNS spoofing.

OpenNIC – An open and democratic alternative DNS root for people concerned about censorship and/or people who don’t trust their ISP’s DNS service(s).

Monero – A secure, private, and untraceable cryptocurrency.

Turtl – An application which is a private place that lets you take notes, bookmark websites and store documents. It has sharing functionality, as well as filtering and tagging. You can probably look at it as an Evernote alternative, but open source and with a focus on privacy.

Standard Notes – A simple, safe and private notes application. With cross-platform sync and end-to-end privacy.

Atom – A text editor which is easy on the eyes, good looking, extendable and hackable. Hackable as in you can easily customize it. Extendable as in adding new features and functionality using the built in package manager. A downside to Atom is that it’s built using the Electron framework, which means it can be a bit slow or use quite a bit of your RAM.

i3 – A tiling window manager. No need for a desktop environment, maybe. i3 is all about using that keyboard and letting the mouse relax. It’s also very customizable.

Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw)/Gufw – Uncomplicated Firewall (ufw) is an easy to use frontend for iptables. Gufw has a graphical user interface, while ufw doesn’t (they are two different projects/applications).

GParted – A neat way to manage partitions using a graphical user interface.

Xfce – An old school desktop environment. Light on resources and it has a traditional look. It is my preferred choice for older computers and/or when I just want basic computer tasks done without too much in my way. Also feels kind of geeky, in a good way.

PyCharm Community – A Python IDE from JetBrains.

GNU GRUB – A popular boot loader. The part that lets you boot operating systems and choose between them.

FileZilla – A FTP application, for both clients and servers. Bundleware, but okay if you install it from an official distribution repository.

Nginx – A web server which can also be used as a reverse proxy and load balancer.

VirtualBox – Screw Oracle, but it’s free/open source software and I’m haven’t heard of any alternatives which is open source and have all the functionality I want.

Samba – A solution that I like to use to share files between Windows and GNU/Linux. It also supports sharing printers and it also works on other operating systems. I have been running Samba on a Raspberry Pi for quite some time now and it’s very useful.

Nmap – A network/security scanner. It’s used to discover hosts and services on a computer network. The software provides a number of features for scanning computer networks, including host discovery and service and operating system detection.

Wireshark/TShark – A powerful packet analyzer which lets you see what’s happening on your network. TShark is a terminal-based version of Wireshark.

Vim – A highly configurable text editor built to make creating and changing any kind of text very efficient.

GNU nano – You are allowed to use a simplier text editor than GNU Emacs or Vim. GNU nano is a pretty straight forward text editor for the command line.

rsync – A utility for efficiently transferring and synchronizing files across computer systems, by checking the timestamp and the size of the files. I use it as a backup solution. Use Cron with it to sync files daily, weekly or so.

htop – An interactive process viewer and process manager for the terminal/console. Kind of like top, but with better features/functionality(?).

Transmission – A BitTorrent client. Can also be used remotely (web UI and terminal).

Deluge – A BitTorrent client. Can also be used remotely (web UI and terminal).

GnuPG/GPG (The GNU Privacy Guard) – A complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard. GnuPG allows you to encrypt and sign your data and communication. Often used for encrypting emails, but it can also be used to encrypt files with symmetric encryption, for example.

BleachBit – A disk space cleaner, privacy manager, and computer system optimizer. With BleachBit you can free cache, delete cookies, clear Internet history, shred files, and delete logs.

Krita – A painting application.

HexChat – An IRC client based on Xchat.

Brackets – A text editor for web designers. My favorite feature with Brackets is the Live Preview which lets you see your changes of your HTML and CSS in real time in a web browser.

RawTherapee – A raw image format converter and digital photo processing software.

KDE Connect – KDE Connect is an application which let you share functionality between your Android phone and your computer. It’s so good! I use it to share text (the clipboard) between my phone and my laptop, but it can be used as a wireless keyboard, wireless touchpad, for showing phone notifications on your computer, among other things. KDE Connect can also be used outside of KDEs Plasma desktop environment.

Games

Pixel Dungeon – A traditional roguelike game with pixel-art graphics.

0 A.D. – A real-time strategy game of ancient warfare

The Battle for Wesnoth – A turn-based strategy game with a fantasy theme. It features both singleplayer and online multiplayer combat.

OpenTTD – A simulation game based on “Transport Tycoon Deluxe”, written by Chris Sawyer. It attempts to mimic the original game as closely as possible while extending it with new features.

Android/mobile

Miscellaneous

F-Droid – A free software repository (or app store) for Android applications.

KDE Connect – KDE Connect is an application which let you share functionality between your Android phone and your computer. It’s so good! I use it to share text (the clipboard) between my phone and my laptop, but it can be used as a wireless keyboard, wireless touchpad, for showing phone notifications on your computer, among other things. KDE Connect can also be used outside of KDEs Plasma desktop environment.

K-9 Mail – An email client for Android. It doesn’t look all that good, but it works very well.

Tasks – A to-do list application. It has all the functionality I want, and it looks good.

Swiftnotes – A note taking application focusing on simplicity and speed. No extra unnecessary features, just notes.

Open Camera – A camera application. I like how the user interface is laid out and I like to use it for easy access to more advanced features when I’m taking pictures and making videos.

NewPipe – A lightweight YouTube frontend. I use this application because it gets around the proprietary YouTube API or any of Google’s proprietary play-services.

Amaze – A useful and good looking file manager. It can connect to Samba servers, which is a must for me.

RedReader – A Reddit client.

Tusky – A client for Mastodon (the decentralized social network).

WiFiAnalyzer – A tool to monitor and examine surrounding WiFi networks to measure their signal strength as well as identifying crowded channels. It looks a bit outdated, but it works as I want it to.

Twidere – A client for Twitter and other microblogging services.

Turtl – An application which is a private place that lets you take notes, bookmark websites and store documents. It has sharing functionality, as well as filtering and tagging. You can probably look at it as an Evernote alternative, but open source and with a focus on privacy.

Standard Notes – A simple, safe and private notes application. With cross-platform sync and end-to-end privacy.

Kali Linux NetHunter – An Android penetration testing platform.

microG – A free-as-in-freedom re-implementation of Google’s proprietary Android user space apps and libraries. microG helps keeping your Android device cleaner without all those proprietary Google applications which is often required to run certain applications.

Librem 5 – A security and privacy focused phone. It’s a phone, so it’s hardware, but you use it with software. That’s why it’s on this list. It’s not out for sale yet, but it will run PureOS and it will be able to run other GNU/Linux distributions as well (so it’s not just another Android phone). It will support end-to-end encrypted decentralized communications via Matrix. The hardware part of this phone is really interesting too, with the CPU separate from the baseband, hardware kill switches for camera, microphone, WiFi/bluetooth, and baseband.

Games

Pixel Dungeon – A traditional roguelike game with pixel-art graphics.

Websites/web applications

I want to share two websites which is useful for finding software that is good for privacy and/or security:

Privacy Tools – Provides knowledge and tools to protect your privacy against global mass surveillance.

PRISM Break – It helps you opt out of global data surveillance programs by providing knowledge and links to software projects that can protect your data and privacy.

And some useful web applications/websites:

Jitsi Meet – A service for video calls and video conferences with neat features like screen sharing and note collaboration using Etherpad.

StartPage Search Engine – A privacy-focused search engine.

Mastodon – The world’s largest free, open-source, decentralized microblogging network. Join it or host your own instance.

Software everyone knows about

I’m listing them anyway, because I do like them and want to mention them.

Linux – I’m not a big fan of the binary blobs/closed source, but Linux is a convenient kernel to use. A lot of applications work on top of it. Good alternatives are Linux-libre (the Linux kernel stripped from binary blobs) or just using OpenBSD.

Debian – A stable and well established operating system.

Linux Mint – One of the most popular GNU/Linux distributions around. It’s based on Ubuntu, but they develop some of their own software, including the Cinnamon desktop environment. Linux Mint just works. It’s so easy to handle.

Mozilla Firefox – A web browser from the guys over at Mozilla. It’s free software, but some of the moves they make and have made is questionable. For me it’s still the most practical web browser that is free software and not a Google product. Firefox 57 was a really good release. Fast and modern.

Some add-ons I use for Firefox:

  • HTTPS Everywhere – It automatically makes websites use a more secure HTTPS connection instead of HTTP, if they support it. HTTPS Everywhere is developed collaboratively by The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
  • Privacy Badger – Blocks spying ads and invisible trackers.
  • uBlock Origin – A fast and efficient ad blocker.
  • Disconnect – It lets you visualize and block the invisible websites that track you.

LibreOffice – An office suite. It gets the job done.

GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) – An image editing and retouching application. You can extend its functionality with automation, scripts and plug-ins. It gets the job done, but needs some work to better support a non-destructive workflow.

VLC media player – As the title says, a media player. It can play a lot of different multimedia files and it supports various streaming protocols.

WordPress – A content management system (CMS) used for making blogs and websites. Extremely popular, but a bit bloated if you just want a simple website or blog.