Try these Linux app equivalents if you're interested in making the jump

If you're curious about the open source operating system but want to make sure you'll still have apps that meet your needs, here's a list of the Linux equivalents of some familiar productivity software.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Woman with laptop in front of her
LaylaBird/Getty Images

One of the many things to consider when looking for an alternative operating system is whether or not there are the right apps to help you continue to be productive. No matter how secure or reliable an operating system is, if there aren't apps to use, that OS is worthless to you.

I do remember, back in the early 2000s, that finding sufficient apps on Linux was a bit of a challenge. Sure, there were some equivalents, but they were so early on in development that they sometimes couldn't help me get to where I needed to be without considerable work. 

Consider this: I worked in an organization that was pretty much all MS Office. In fact, I was the only person there who was not using MS Office. Needless to say, using Star Office was problematic. I had to bend and twist formatting and templates to make it work, and it barely did at that. I was told if I didn't start using MS Office, there would be penalties.

Fortunately, that was a metaphorical lifetime ago. Today, things are quite different and there are plenty of apps available for the Linux operating system, apps that are 100% capable of helping you be productive, creative, and effective, no matter what it is you are doing.

Let's take a look at some of those app equivalents that you might not be aware of (and some that you may).

Also: How to run apps with ease in Linux 

The MS Office equivalent

This one is a bit tricky because the days of locally installed office suites are slowly becoming a thing of the past... unless you're on Linux. Sure, you can use Office 365 all you want on Linux. You can also use Apple Pages within iCloud, Google Docs, or any number of cloud-based productivity suites. But when you need an equivalent to MS Office, where do you turn?

In a word, LibreOffice. LibreOffice is a full-featured office suite that includes documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, formulas, and even a full-blown database component. LibreOffice is powerful, easy to use, and highly compatible with MS Office file formats. So if you have to collaborate with users of MS Office and you're worried Linux doesn't have an equivalent, put those concerns to rest.

The Photoshop equivalent

Some would argue that Photoshop simply doesn't have an equivalent. And to many, that's spot on. Photoshop is, after all, the de facto standard image editing tool. And no matter how much the Linux community begs, Adobe is never going to port its software to the Linux operating system.

That's okay because Linux has GIMP, which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. GIMP is a very powerful image editor that has plenty of bells and whistles to help you create all of the images you or your company needs. Although you might not find nearly the amount of plugins for GIMP, that doesn't mean it cannot be extended or isn't worthy of consideration. I've been using GIMP to create book covers and the like and have rarely given Photoshop a second thought.

Also: How to get Photoshop for free

The Zoom equivalent

This is an easy one: Linux actually does have an official Zoom equivalent. Okay, it's not open source, but it can be installed on just about every Linux distribution on the market. And the Linux version of Zoom performs as well as it does on any platform.

The Slack equivalent

See Zoom above. That's right, Linux also has a Slack app that can be installed via Snap or Flatpak. Easy-peasy.

The Chrome equivalent

Okay, this one comes with a caveat because I don't believe anyone should use Chrome. However, I also know that it's the most widely used web browser across the globe by a long shot. That being said, if you're on Linux, consider the Firefox browser instead. However, if that's simply not in the cards, you can install an official version of Chrome on Linux.

The Spotify equivalent

I may be sounding like a broken record, but Linux has an official Spotify client, which can be installed via Snap packages or from the official repository for Debian and Ubuntu-based distributions.

The anti-virus and anti-malware equivalent

Don't need it. But if you prefer, there are versions of Kaspersky, Bitdefender, McAfee Antivirus, ESET, Comodo Antivirus, and Avast available for Linux. And if you don't like the idea of using a proprietary solution, there's always the open-source ClamAV.

Also: The best antivirus software and apps

The media player equivalent

When you need to play local media, such as music and videos, the single best option available is VLC Media Player. The Linux version of this software is the same as it is on Windows, so you shouldn't have any problems getting up to speed with it.

The password manager equivalent

This one is easy as well, as nearly all password managers on the market either have Linux versions or work via a web browser. So, for anyone who wants to keep their accounts and services secured with a strong password (which everyone should), Linux has you covered.

As you can see, there's an alternative for just about anything, and this is only scratching the surface. And given how everyone's workflow is different, there's no telling what kind of apps you'll need to use. But I bet, with just a bit of searching, you'll find a Linux equivalent for that software you use… no matter how obscure it may be.

The lesson here is that Linux has plenty of applications that can solve just about any type of problem, be it of a business, a creative, or a personal nature. 

Editorial standards