Update, June 2009:
New, up-to-date collection is available
. Please take a look!
We've had a (sweet) collection of Windows programs. Now, it's time for Linux tools. First, most of the
applications listed in the (sweet) collection are open-source, cross-platform applications and will run on
Linux. In fact, only a few of the Windows applications listed will run ONLY on Windows.
So, in a strange yet beautiful way, A (sweet) collection of Windows programs is a
good place to start! The cross-platform applications listed include: AbiWord, aMule, Audacity, DOSBox, Eclipse,
eMule, GParted, FileZilla, Firefox, GAIM, GIMP, Nvu, Open Office, Opera, Privoxy, QEMU, Sunbird, Thunderbird,
TrueCrypt, VirtualDub, VLC, Wireshark, and several others. All of these will run on Linux.
Nevertheless, I have decided to compile a separate list of dedicated Linux tools, which will be of great use
for anyone, even including sworn Windows users. You might have already read about some of the applications
listed below in my other articles (like SUSE and Ubuntu). And I intend to review a few more in future articles.
Regardless, I hope this list will serve you well and provide you with a wealth of useful information. For
people with little knowledge of Linux, this is a good place to start.
One more important note: unlike the Windows list, it is rather difficult for me to compile the best in class
for each categories, because a) Linux distributions are so many and so diverse, it would be frankly impossible
b) it's harder to narrow down the choices, all being fairly good. Therefore, the list below is a compilation of
especially highly useful tools across a range of categories. For example,
Ubuntu CD offers hundreds of superb applications; disassembling it would be tricky.
Anything missing? Feel free to email me with your
suggestions. You can find programs suggested by other readers under Users' Recommendations. OK then, let's rock.
Disclaimer #1 (valid down to Appendix A included): I have used the software listed below
and found it satisfactory. In my experience, these programs caused me no grief of any sort. I cannot guarantee
the same level of experience for you, nor the validity of programs at their destined links. Use them at your
Table of contents
(Cool) list of tools, by alphabetic order
list of tools, by alphabetic order
Vidalia is a cross-platform GUI controller for Tor anonymizing proxy.
Simple Backup Solution
This tool is intended for backup of files, using a desktop GUI.
Partimage is a Linux partition backup utility. It allows you to save partitions in many files formats to image
files, compress the image files, split image files for burning, and even save them across network. NTFS support
is under development.
Konqueror is a combined browser and file manager for KDE.
XChat is a popular multi-platform chat client. It supports multiple channels and file transfers. As said, it is
also available for Windows.
alien is a program that converts between Redhat rpm, Debian deb, Stampede slp, Slackware tgz, and Solaris pkg
AODC stands for An OpenDocument Converter. This small tool is intended to convert Open Office documents into html
files on machines that do not have Open Office installed. This means you can open your documents on any computer.
Now, AODC will run on Windows - but it is a tool well suited for Linux users.
Wine is an open-source implementation of Windows API on top of X and Unix. In other words, it allows you run
Windows applications on a Linux machine by creating a simulated environment. Wine is nicely complemented with
VMware products, which are also available for Windows.
On a side note, to convince you that you can run Windows applications - hell, Windows itself - on Linux, you
might want to refer to my article Installing VMware Server
& Windows in Linux
Read about it in A (sweet) collection of Windows programs
Damn Small Linux
Damn Small Linux is a versatile 50MB desktop-oriented Debian-based distribution. You can boot with it from CD,
USB drive or even run it inside Windows. It can also be installed onto hard disk. It's light, fast and packs a
solid range of applications, including Gphone, Firefox, Naim, XMMS, Xpdf, and many more.
Elive is a live CD running Enlightenment Windows manager, which is an amazing visual experience while being very
low on requirements. Like all other Linux CDs, it offers a mature and rich package of programs. It offers some
very interesting programs like Blender 3D studio, MPlayer, Grip audio ripper, as well as the usual XChat, GAIM,
Firefox, Open Office, and others.
This is another small Linux, intended to provide a user with a safe and comfortable live working environment. It
takes only about 120MB and offers in return AbiWord, Dillo, Firefox, CTorrent, NTFS resize support, Samba,
Fluxbox, and more.
Gentoo is a combined live and install CD. This allows you to test the feel of the distribution before deciding
whether you want to install it (warning: Gentoo is NOT the friendliest distribution for beginners!). It offers a
full, complete working environment.
Helix is a dedicated incident response and forensic analysis live CD. It is not intended for beginners. The CD
includes many useful tools like e2recover - for recovering files under ext2 file system, ClamAV and F-Prot
anti-virus scanners, chkrootkit and rkhunter anti-rootkit scanners, Galleta - cookie analyzer for Internet
Explorer, Regviewer - Windows registry analyzer, wipe - for secure file deletion, and more. The full contents of
the CD are available here
Read about it in A (sweet) collection of Windows programs
under Live CDs
Recently, there have been reports of a virus that destroys the Partition
Table of hard disks and renders them unbootable. A tool called TestDisk
can be used to remedy such a failure, if it occurs.
TestDisk is included
in the powerful package of utilities that can be found on
Knoppix CD. It is also included with GParted live CD.
Puppy Linux is another small desktop-oriented live CD. Puppy Linux comes in a wide range of flavors, including
the static live CD but also the multi-session CD/DVD, which allows you to save your live sessions to hard media
every time you use Puppy and reload them on the next use, virtually eliminating the need for running an operating
system from a hard drive. This option can also be useful for people who have to travel a lot. Puppy Linux weighs
50-70MB and offers many useful applications. Puppy comes in many flavors, including custom and specialized
In addition to a very powerful desktop operating system, you can also enjoy a SUSE live CD. You can read more
about SUSE in my article Installing SUSE Linux - Full tutorial
This is a live CD specifically geared toward rescue and recovery. The tools package includes some of the most
important tools available for Linux user, like GParted, QTParted, Partimage, Grub, Lilo, sfdisk, security tools,
network tools, and more. The full list of tools is available here
Ubuntu is a combined live and installation CD. Ubuntu runs with Gnome desktop. You can also try Kubuntu
with KDE and Xubuntu
with Xfce. You can
read more about (K)ubuntu in my article Installing (K)ubuntu Linux - Full
. You can read all about some 50+ live CDs on FrozenTech LiveCD List
MP3FS is a read-only FUSE file system which transcodes audio formats to MP3 on the fly when opened and read.
MPlayer is a highly versatile media player for Linux, with a very good support of audio and video formats. It
will play most MPEG/VOB, AVI, Ogg/OGM, VIVO, ASF/WMA/WMV, QT/MOV/MP4, RealMedia, Matroska, NUT, NuppelVideo, FLI,
YUV4MPEG, FILM, RoQ, and PVA files, supported by many native, XAnim, and Win32 DLL codecs. You can watch VideoCD,
SVCD, DVD, 3ivx, DivX 3/4/5, and even WMV movies.
xine is a lightweight, powerful media player, capable of playing AVI, MOV, WAV, and MP3 formats. The player has
many guises and is constantly being developed.
XMMS is a multimedia player (mainly audio) for UNIX-based systems. It supports MP3, MOD, WAV, and other formats.
A variety of plugins is available. XMMS is included on Elive and Knoppix live CDs.
QTParted is a clone of Partition Magic. It is capable of handling NTFS partitions.
Super Grub Disk
Super Grub Disk is intended to run from a floppy disk or CD and is used for system rescue. Most importantly, it
can be used to restore boot loaders, including GRUB, LILO and even Windows boot loader.
TestDisk is a utility specially designed to recover lost partitions and make non-booting disks bootable again.
This highly useful tool can be found on a number of live CDs, including Knoppix and GParted. It supports NTFS
partitions and also comes in Windows flavor.
Note: Most Linux security tools are geared toward knowledgeable users. If you are not Linux-savvy, you
should not meddle with these programs.
This tool allows you to look for unwanted spies on your machine, not that there should be any/
rkhunter is another tool for uprooting undesired self-hiding toolkits.
FREESCO is a lightweight, powerful firewall based on CISCO. It supports up to 10 network cards, 10 modems, 5
printers, NAT, a whole lot more, and will run from a single 1.44MB floppy. You can use an antique 386 machine to
SmoothWall is a powerful firewall with a self-contained operating system and a web-based GUI. It can be installed
on a machine as lowly as a 486.
AppArmor is an application security framework, most easily described as heuristically-inclined HIPS. It will run
on Linux distributions based on Red Hat. Mastering AppArmor takes knowledge and patience.
Snort is a very popular open-source network intrusion detection and prevention software. It is intended for
Truman is a sandbox-like malware analysis tool, running on native hardware. It is NOT recommended for people who
do NOT understand the full implications of using this tool.
Disclaimer #2: I have NOT personally tested each and every application at the below
sites. I cannot guarantee their quality. Treat the below links as a good reference point from which you may
expand your searches.
Eric L. Howes' Linux Privacy & Security
- a site compiling listings and download sites for
hundreds of packages
FrozenTech LiveCD List
- a list of live CDs
- a long list of applications for Linux
Thanks to the following people for their suggestions: Alphalutra1, Ben, dog, Durad, romanlance.
Some of the suggested programs have been incorporated in the list above. All future suggestions will be listed
below. Again, the same criteria as for Windows programs apply: the proposed applications should be fairly simple,
free beyond any reason of doubt, non-offensive to me, and preferably suggested by a member of a respectable
Here are some of your recommendations:
- this is a light, simple, beautiful, and highly versatile for Linux
running KDE; natively, it does not support MP3 format, but the necessary libraries can easily be added - for
example, in Ubuntu or SUSE, via package managers - libxine-extracodecs.
- a web editor that supports a range of
funtionality, and compliance with both KDE and Gnome environments.
- an Internet TV platform; the player incorporates
video RSS feeds, automatic downloads of videos, BitTorrent, and much more.
- a photo management program for Gnome desktops; the program
supports 16 file types, allows easy editing and tagging of photos, simplifying cataloguing of large batches of
- a firewall with goal-oriented GUI, intended
for beginner and intermediate users.
- an excellent script that enables you
to run Internet Explorer on Linux (with Wine installed); it will offer you three versions of Internet Explorer,
making invalid the excuse of not switching to Linux because your favorite site only loads in Internet
- is a CD burning utility for KDE, with lots of excellent features,
including support for multiple El Torito boot images, audio CD burning, VCD, SVCD, mixed-mode CDs, eMovix CDs, CD
copy and CD/DVD ripping, DVD burning, DivX/XviD encoding, blanking of CDR-Ws, writing of ISOs, and a whole lot
- an Instant Messaging program for KDE; Kopete supports AIM, ICQ,
MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, IRC, Gadu-Gadu, Novell GroupWise Messenger, and more, as well as message encryption and
- BitTorrent client for KDE.
- a lightweight, extensible windows manager; it can be used
instead of the heavier Gnome and KDE.
- a firewall based on m0n0wall, using OpenBSD ported Packet Filter;
supports a wide range of devices and protocols.
- a WYSIWYG web development program for KDE, with a wide
range of plugins.
- a fast, lightweight desktop (based on X
Windows). It can be a suitable alternative to heavier environments on older systems.
- a stream directory browser, supporting SHOUTcast,
Live365 and other stream directories, as well as full support for ID3 and Vorbis metadata editing; it goes well
, which allows you to record the streams.
- a lightweight e-mail client; also supports Windows.
I guess that's it. By the way, most of the general advice for Windows users also applies here. There's no
need to Ctrl + A the entire Internet and download it onto your machine. With Linux, you're in an even greater
peril of getting carried away, because there are tens of Linux distributions - whereas Windows is only one.
Don't download anything and everything - make sure you trust the download site, make sure you understand what
you're doing, visit the forums and ask questions before you start meddling, and always have your personal data
backed up. Most importantly, in Linux, when you think something is not working - DO NOT INTERFERE, LET IT BE! It
Is working. Believe me. Kernel updates can take as much as a whole day to complete, even more. When you're
downloading packages off the Internet, they are often recompiled locally on your machine to suit your
architecture. This process can be quite lengthy - and it is NOT healthy to interrupt. Wait for your machine to
tell you it's failed before you do.
If in doubt, please refer to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 1.