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The Most Popular Linux Desktop Programs (zdnet.com) 228

The most recent Linux Questions poll results are in. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, writing for ZDNet: LinuxQuestions, one of the largest internet Linux groups with 550,000 members, has just posted the results from its latest survey of desktop Linux users. In the always hotly-contested Linux desktop environment survey, the winner was the KDE Plasma Desktop. It was followed by the popular lightweight Xfce, Cinnamon, and GNOME. If you want to buy a computer with pre-installed Linux, the Linux Questions crew's favorite vendor by far was System76. Numerous other computer companies offer Linux on their PCs. These include both big names like Dell and dedicated small Linux shops such as ZaReason, Penguin Computing, and Emperor Linux. Many first choices weren't too surprising. For example, Linux users have long stayed loyal to the Firefox web browser, and they're still big fans. Firefox beat out Google Chrome by a five-to-one margin. And, as always, the VLC media player is far more popular than any other Linux media player. For email clients, Mozilla Thunderbird remains on top. That's a bit surprising given how Thunderbird's development has been stuck in neutral for some time now. When it comes to text editors, I was pleased to see vim -- my personal favorite -- win out over its perpetual rival, Emacs. In fact, nano and Kate both came ahead of Emacs.

The Most Popular Linux Desktop Programs

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  • The Results (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @11:58AM (#56116267)

    From: https://www.linuxquestions.org... [linuxquestions.org]

    Desktop Distribution of the Year - Ubuntu (18.17%)
    Server Distribution of the Year - Slackware (22.40%)
    Live Distribution of the Year - Knoppix (18.31%)
    Lightweight Distribution of the Year - Puppy Linux (29.75%)
    Database of the Year - MariaDB (42.22%)
    Browser of the Year - Firefox (57.84%)
    Desktop Environment of the Year - Plasma Desktop (KDE) (27.83%)
    Window Manager of the Year - Openbox (24.22%)
    Audio Media Player Application of the Year - VLC (31.13%)
    Digital Audio Workstation of the Year - Ardour (42.86%)
    Video Media Player Application of the Year - VLC (68.01%)
    Video Authoring Application of the Year - KDEnlive (
    Network Security Application of the Year - Wireshark (33.33%)
    Host Security Application of the Year - SELinux (35.71%)
    Network Monitoring Application of the Year - Nagios Core (32.73%)
    IDE of the Year - Geany (15.98%)
    Text Editor of the Year - vim (28.32%)
    File Manager of the Year - Dolphin (25.24%)
    Open Source Game of the Year - 0 A.D. (17.31%)
    Programming Language of the Year - Python (30.00%)
    Backup Application of the Year - rsync (41.30%)
    Log Management Tool of the Year - Logwatch (36.96%)
    X Terminal Emulator of the Year - Konsole (22.01%)
    Browser Privacy Solution of the Year - uBlock Origin (28.13%)
    Privacy Solution of the Year - Tor Browser Bundle (37.21%)
    Open Source File Sync Application of the Year - Nextcloud (36.92%)
    IRC Client of the Year - Hexchat (33.02%)
    Universal Packaging Format of the Year - Snap (38.67%)
    Single Board Computer of the Year - Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (64.18%)
    Virtualization Application of the Year - VirtualBox (64.53%)
    Container of the Year - Docker (67.14%)
    Orchestrator of the Year - Kubernetes (62.07%)
    Linux/Open Source Podcast of the Year - Linux Action Show (16.00%)
    Secure Messaging Application of the Year - Telegram/Signal (Tie - 38.46%)
    Video Messaging Application of the Year - Skype (54.76%)
    Vector Graphics Editor of the Year - Inkscape (68.97%)
    Linux Desktop Vendor of the Year - System76 (63.49%)
    Email Client of the Year - Thunderbird (63.45%)

    • Ubuntu for the desktop and Slackware for the server? Well, that's all I need to dismiss those opinions. If anything it should be the other way around.

      uMatrix is an improvement over uBlock Origin.

    • I can't help noticing that these are nearly all the same things that have been popular for a decade or more. How many differences are there from the 2008 survey, if there was a 2008 survey?

  • Thunderbird (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:02PM (#56116291)
    I have yet to see any realistic alternative to Thunderbird. Most other local clients are so bloated I might as well just go to the gmail web panel. Thunderbird is the most lightweight email client that I can see. Too bad it has been abandoned.
    • I like Postbox, myself. Been using it for about 10 years now. I miss the Sunbird integration...having the calendar and E-mail in the same program was nifty.
      • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

        Sorry guys. Still a big fan of mutt. I know its pretty useless in the days of html email, (there is a special place in hell for who though of html email), but for straight up reading the kernel mail list it really can't be beat.

        • by skids ( 119237 )

          Yeah when I bother to read my email at all, these days it is mutt. Still kinda did like pine better, but it's not far off... just a bunch of different keys to remember on an application I use so rarely these days.

          (Note to ancient unix devs: email is not a good way to do system logging and alerting. cron needs to find some other way.)

    • Re:Thunderbird (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gort65 ( 1464371 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:24PM (#56116473)

      I have yet to see any realistic alternative to Thunderbird. Most other local clients are so bloated I might as well just go to the gmail web panel. Thunderbird is the most lightweight email client that I can see. Too bad it has been abandoned.

      Claws Mail is quite a good email client and it's not bloated for a GUI client.

      BTW, Thunderbird is currently neglected by Mozilla, but it's certainly not abandoned. It's still getting regular updates.

    • Re:Thunderbird (Score:4, Informative)

      by fred6666 ( 4718031 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:34PM (#56116577)

      their last version is in 2018
      doesn't sound abandoned

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      mozilla deabandoned thunderbird and created a new foundation to oversee it's development, and they're hiring again:

      https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/11/thunderbird_mozilla_future/
      https://blog.mozilla.org/thunderbird/2018/01/were-hiring-a-developer-to-work-on-thunderbird-full-time/

    • Too bad it has been abandoned.

      It is in pretty good shape anyway. I have been using it for a while already and no complaints.

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Luckily the T-bird is not totally abandoned yet. I think it's still the best email client out there. It doesn't need new features. e-Mail is so old, an old email client works just as good as a new one.

    • I liked kmail for a while, until it went insane and eventually broke irrecoverably in progressive updates. Went back to Thunderbird because Thunderbird is reliably static. In other words, I use Thunderbird because it's abandoned. Please don't revive it, that'll lead to a strong chance of it being ruined, and email is too important to risk.

    • Thunderbird is the most lightweight email client that I can see.

      I moved from TB to mutt/neomutt a couple of years ago and never looked back. It took a little while to set up, but the migration was definitely worth it. TB is extremely bloated in comparison.

    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      +1 for this, and the Lightning CalDav plugin, for which there is no viable replacement (except perhaps Evolution).

  • So no killer apps. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:05PM (#56116311)

    Actually this list is rather surprising that there isn't any really popular Linux App, that isn't widely used in other platforms. This list is mostly just rather basic tools for 2018, Web Browser, Video Player, Text editor, and Windows Managers.

    Back in the days.
    Macintosh had its Adobe Suits for desktop publishing
    DOS had its word perfect and Lotus 123
    Windows had its Office Suite
    Amiga had its video tools

    In general the other OS's seems to have a flagship tool that stands for how the product is primary meant to be used for.

    Linux doesn't seem to have that. Probably mostly because it is heart it is a server OS. So what really probably should be on the list is Apache MySQL PHP Or whatever is more popular at the moment.

    • Just itself (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tenebrousedge ( 1226584 ) <.tenebrousedge. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:19PM (#56116429)

      It's true, Unix has never had a 'killer app': the 'killer app' was always Unix.

      • by jwhyche ( 6192 )

        It's true, Unix has never had a 'killer app': the 'killer app' was always Unix.

        Yeah, I got to agree with this. Linux, and therefor unix, has lots of programs and applications. Outside of games and if you are willing to put up with its little quirks, you can work linux into a office environment.

        But generally speaking when I need to get any real work done. I usually toss aside the gui and open a vt100 window. An 90% of the time us use nothing but command line tools that come with the OS to get work done.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          But what work are you talking about?

          For me it means designing and simulating circuits, or developing firmware and apps. The basic command line stuff that comes with the OS isn't great for that. Does it even include a text mode PCB layout tool?

      • by tsa ( 15680 )

        Unix' killer apps are bash and sh.

        • sh I might grant you, but Bash is only notable because the previous shells were intolerably bad. Bash does not have typed variables, or named parameters, or classes. Its array syntax is bizarre, its conditional operator is an external program with a required last argument of ']', and it's not even all that good about parsing command line parameters. The entire Unix toolchain is extremely effective; Bash qua Bash is exceedingly primitive, and if it were a new language introduced today, no one would ever use

    • by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:55PM (#56116741)

      Actually this list is rather surprising that there isn't any really popular Linux App, that isn't widely used in other platforms. This list is mostly just rather basic tools for 2018, Web Browser, Video Player, Text editor, and Windows Managers.

      Back in the days. Macintosh had its Adobe Suits for desktop publishing DOS had its word perfect and Lotus 123 Windows had its Office Suite Amiga had its video tools

      In general the other OS's seems to have a flagship tool that stands for how the product is primary meant to be used for.

      Linux doesn't seem to have that. Probably mostly because it is heart it is a server OS. So what really probably should be on the list is Apache MySQL PHP Or whatever is more popular at the moment.

      And Linux has LibreOffice. I've been using it for years for academic writing and creating learning and teaching resources (all my students have Windows or Mac). I haven't used MS Office for years and don't miss it one bit.

      That said, Linux is sorely lacking in decent, productivity oriented multimedia editing software. Adobe still rules the roost in this department and doesn't support Linux and Wine doesn't work well enough with Adobe software. Unfortunately, I still have to dual boot Linux & Windows so that I can do multimedia editing when necessary.

      • by Hasaf ( 3744357 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @01:13PM (#56116885)

        As you noted, Libre Office wasn't even on the list. Even in the article the most popular were computer management apps and no mention of productivity apps.

        This is a large part of the reason I stopped using Linux on the desktop. When the computer was the ends, rather than the means, it was great. However, at this point in my life, the computer is the means, not the ends. When I just need to get work done, Linux just isn't the tool.

      • ...Linux is sorely lacking in decent, productivity oriented multimedia editing software.

        I use Kdenlive+Blender for this purpose.

    • Macintosh had its Adobe Suits for desktop publishing

      which was used by what, 1% of the desktop users? That's not how you become popular.

    • No killer apps?
      bash & GNU unix cli goodies awk, you name it pipe it, here to serve you over 20 years and counting (still find non-gnu BSD utils clunky from time to time).
      Maybe not visually sexy or anything, but *any* mistake improves knowledge rather than dealing with backwards incompatibility or bugs.

      Fed up with waiting for the Year of the Linux Desktop, instead settling with Mate and enjoying the cli, because that's really fine and able to surprise me after 20+ years of use.

    • Linux had (and probably still has) its sweet spot at Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP.

      Some tools that started on Unix moved to Linux. And they are only available in Linux. Just check most of the tools provided by Mentor Graphics, Synopsys and Cadence.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:08PM (#56116331)
    Since TFA brought it up I can't wait for an evidence-based, rational discussion on the best text editor for Linux.
    • by ranton ( 36917 )

      Since TFA brought it up I can't wait for an evidence-based, rational discussion on the best text editor for Linux.

      Hasn't Sublime basically made the vi / emacs debate a moot point?

    • by Octorian ( 14086 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:22PM (#56116451) Homepage

      The editor wars kinda annoy me, because it really isn't somewhere that we need absolutes.
      For me, the "best editor" really depends on what it is that I'm editing. The best editor for configuration files may not be the best editor for source code. The best editor for a bunch of related files may not be the best editor for a single one-off file or scratch editing of a text snippet. Likewise, the best editor in a GUI might not be the same as the best editor in a terminal window.

      • So the obvious choice is to then pair a decent text editor like vi with a good operating system like emacs.

    • ed is the Unix text editor.

    • Geany is the best editor.

      For one thing it works on Window and Linux equally well. With plugins (download the bundle) I have everything I need... except for code folding with MORE and LESS that Kedit once had. Maybe I will write that plugin someday.

      Vim sure yes if you have to over a shell connection for sys admin or something - but why anyone wants to use a mode editor from the 70's as their development platform is beyond me.

  • by old_skul ( 566766 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:09PM (#56116337) Journal

    Saying KDE Plasma is the most popular app is like saying that Explorer is the most popular app on Windows. While technically true, it's also the default, and you can't really use the OS without it. Could you use other window managers? Sure, but I'm not sure a window manager counts as an app.

    • Re:KDE Plasma? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:35PM (#56116579)

      Saying KDE Plasma is the most popular app is like saying that Explorer is the most popular app on Windows. While technically true, it's also the default, and you can't really use the OS without it. Could you use other window managers? Sure, but I'm not sure a window manager counts as an app.

      It actually is a bit of a surprise, the major distros tend to offer Gnome as the default.

      • Indeed ! It is a signal to distros that GNOME should not be the default DE. It shouldn't even be included by distros. For instance Debian installer shouldn't offer GNOME as a choice of DEs to install.

    • Most popular App on windows...explorer.exe !!!!
  • KDE (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:11PM (#56116357)

    KDE has earned these results. For years now KDE development has been thoughtful and conservative; no iconoclasts have been permitted to blow up everything in another doomed attempt to reinvent the desktop. Small but crucial things have survived incessant pressure from well meaning but short sighted people, such as the fact that you can still turn off fucking compositing. I hope they can stick to this pattern for a few more years and continue earning trust.

    • by Octorian ( 14086 )

      I only wish that KDE wasn't universally shunned by most of the major Linux distro players, and thus relegated to second-class status.

      That being said, a big part of why I use Fedora over Ubuntu on my home desktop, is that Fedora does a much better job with their KDE build. (even if the top-down attitudes aren't that different)

      • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

        is that Fedora does a much better job with their KDE build.

        I've found Kubuntu is working well in recent releases. I plan on committing to 18.04 LTS for many years when it appears in April. I've tested Kubuntu 17.10 thoroughly and I haven't found anything that disappoints me except maybe the still young GUI package manager, a low priority issue given apt. This is relative to my experience with OpenSUSE KDE which has been the most polished KDE distro since forever.

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          Does synaptic run under KDE? Or does it have to drag in a full gig or so of dependencies?

          • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

            Bit of a false dichotomy there; it runs fine and it pulls in an avalanche of dependencies. Up to you to decide if it's worth the space, but it runs fine.

          • I've been using synaptic with kubuntu for many years, it's my primary package manager. Installation of it went quick on my slow connection when I set up my new PC a couple months ago, so it can't have many dependencies.

      • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
        Man, wait until you hear about OpenSuse.
        • by Octorian ( 14086 )

          You mean the distro I ditched years ago, because every day around 4pm it would randomly decide to completely hog my system resources? Or the distro I ditched because its package manager took so long to initialize that it was faster to download and compile the friggin source code to something? Or the distro that used to be a big KDE holdout, until they decided to also throw in the towel and join the Gnome camp?

          • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
            Was that before or after zypper? Because zypper and Open Build Services have given OpenSuse new life. I used to end up switching systems to ubuntu or debian for package support, but almost everything is in OpenSuse now. Although I can't get the damn spotify client to work...

            I vaguely remember Suse Defaulting to gnome for one release, but KDE and gnome are both options now. KDE is very polished.
  • by darkain ( 749283 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:11PM (#56116361) Homepage

    Simple as this, "Popular" doesnt mean something is "Better", it just means it is more widely used and marketed. Marketing isn't just for selling products, it is also a way to influence others to be in agreeable with you on a particular idea. In this case, it is the marketing of "use my free software because..." and whoever has the loudest, furthest reaching voice generally wins.

    For one huge example, the list has text editors. Emacs? Vim? Nano? And we're talking about desktop distributions? Hands down, none of those compare to the quality of Sublime Text as a text editor.

    As others have pointed out in this post already, there isn't any "killer apps" for Linux out there. So the software being ran is all console software with a prettified multi-tasking window manager to organize all of those console windows. This seems to be the current mindset of all Linux is really used for in the desktop space.

    • by Octorian ( 14086 )

      Emacs? Vim? Nano? And we're talking about desktop distributions? Hands down, none of those compare to the quality of Sublime Text as a text editor.

      Sublime Text is a commercial product, which will always put it at a huge disadvantage in overall popularity in the Linux world.

      There are a lot of people who primarily use Linux because it (and everything on it) is free, with all other factors secondary. (Though they'll tend to deny it if you say it to their face.)

      That being said, the two most used applications (that I paid real money for) on my Linux desktop are Sublime Text and Beyond Compare.
      I'm also one of those rare folks who would gladly pay real money

    • by Plugh ( 27537 )
      Very true. Marketing all too often trumps good technical design. For example, Beta beat VHS because pr0n was on VHS. For another example, Dash is out-marketing lots of cryptocurrencies that are actually scalable like Ripple or actually private like Monero. One of these days someone using Dash "privatesend" is going to jail. [imgur.com]
    • Sublime Text? Come on... all of the cool kids are using Atom now. Atom has so damn many development plugins that it feels more like an IDE once you're done customizing it.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @12:16PM (#56116413) Journal

    You kids don't know how lucky you got it. When I was coming up, we didn't have any fancy Linux to use.

  • When I install by default, it gives me VLC. So if you are a new user, that is what you learn to use and that is what you will prefer. I still like MPlayer as that is what I started with. The same goes with vim instead of nano.

    The same goes with the fact that Firefox is still installed by default. I still have it on my machine, but now use Chrome.I use it to see if it a site does not display how I expect it to display and see if it is the site or the browser. Till now always the site.

    It would be nice to know

    • by Gort65 ( 1464371 )

      Just as an exte: I use XFCE, because each time you start KDE, a puppy is killed and each time you start GNOME they kill a kitten. True!

      While each time XFCE is used, a mouse is slaughtered. Poor mice.

      Saying that, my Linux install regularly kills mice.

  • CentOS is nothing more than a free version of RedHat. So, as far as "popularity" goes, they should be counted together. Just like one is bundling up different versions of the same distribution.

    That would give us:
    RedHat EL (+CentOS) = 33.34%
    Slackware = 22.40%

    PS: Oracle could also be grouped with RedHat and CentOS, but no one care because no one uses it anyway :)
    PS2: Considering the very low total number of votes (366) and the different in votes between CentOS and Slackware, statistically speaking, even if yo

  • by argee ( 1327877 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @01:04PM (#56116803)

    I made my own desktop. Two epoxy-glued layers of 3/4 inch plywood, covered and edged with off-white formica. It is supported by 2-drawer file cabinets. Size is 8 ft wide and 3 ft deep. I have 2x4 reinforcements underneath the top. Holes in the back for cables. It is a solid thing you can jump on. From Amazon I got a pull-out drawer unit for pencils, and some other bric-a-brac. I have a keyboard hutch, and the monitor used to be on top of the hutch, but now is on an arm from the wall. I like this desktop, rugged, custom and ample enough to do work, including soldering up things from time to time. www.xalaska.com Nome, Alaska, USA

  • I have recently moved my main machine to Linux (long-time Windows user until that moment, only relying on Linux for secondary computers) and one of the few difficulties has been finding a proper replacement for Notepad++. Finally, I found a quite good alternative: Komodo Edit. I don't like too much the most common/famous Linux text editors.
    • As posted above checkout Geany... I too like notepad++ but Geany works equally well in both environments (Linux and Windows). You will need to download the plugin packages to get things like "highlight all instances of variable when i click on it" feature.

      • checkout Geany.

        I am quite happy with Komodo Edit, but will do some tests with Geany at some point anyway. Thanks for the tip.

  • indirect linking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mozai ( 3547 ) on Tuesday February 13, 2018 @02:14PM (#56117307) Homepage
    Why did you link to ZDnet, instead of linking to the source at LinuxQuestions?
  • Isn't half the point of Linux that you fresh install your own version of Linux, getting rid of any bloat that came with the computer?!

  • I run Renoise (yup, paid for that one), Ardour, Rosegarden, Hydrogen, ZynAddSubFX, SooperLooper, Audacity, Qsynth, LMMS; I use Clementine as a music player.
    • by subk ( 551165 )
      How do you like Renoise? I've been thinking about buying it. Fruity Loops is the only reason I keep Windows around, but only because I haven't found an alternative that runs on Linux.
      • by niks42 ( 768188 )
        Its usability is improved dramatically once you start to adopt keyboard shortcuts .. and you need lots of CPU and memory (though more modern machines are probably a lot better than my AMD Phenom), since the effects are small and simple-ish so you need to stack lots together. But it is really, really good. I am a fan of MIDI controllers and button-LED matrix, and it really excels.

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