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Best productivity tools for Linux that are available on the Synaptic Package Manager

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It's much easier to be productive with Linux than with other operating systems. This is due to the customizability of Linux.

But maybe you want to be even more productive. That's great: there are many productivity tools for Linux. And with so many Linux distros already using the Synaptic Package Manager, it's so much simpler to use that to install all your productivity tools. Installing a program outside of Synaptic is OK, but it can be frustrating to have to go to individual websites and deal with each install separately. It's well... not so productive.

So here is my (admittedly biased!) list of the best Linux tools for productivity; all are available through the Synaptic Package Manager at the time of writing.

1. gThumb

Surprisingly few distros bundle gThumb in their default install, yet in my opinion it's the number one image view and basic editor you need for productivity. gThumb is the fastest to use out of only a very few image programs that can do all the basics you need:

  • image resize
  • image crop
  • change format (e.g. png to jpg or vice versa) - no need to click a special button, just Save As and use the .jpg or .png extension.
  • change brightness / contrast
  • rotate

Screenshot of gThumb - Linux productivity tools

It does a few more things as well, such as one-click delete of metadata, but the above are all my must-haves. It's surprising how few image programs handle resize, crop and rotate (many are missing at least one of those functions).

gThumb doesn't get complicated; it's not trying to be Gimp or even Krita. It has all of the basics but nothing distracting. For anything more complicated that involves layers, you'll want Gimp. But 90% of all my image work can be done much more quickly with gThumb, making it a lean mean productivity machine.

Even though gThumb was developed for the Gnome linux desktop, it works perfectly on other desktops. I've used it on the XFCE desktop of many other distros without problems.

2. Character map / gucharmap

Character Map is also known as gucharmap (yes, the spelling is correct, no n is needed). Although you won't necessarily use it every single day, when you need it you really need it. It's a graphical picker for special characters. If you need to type a character that isn't present in your Linux's main keyboard language, simply click on Character Map, select the character you want and simply copy and paste.

Here's an example: I just typed this ü character in this sentence by using Character Map. You can see where I got the character in the image below.

Screenshot of character map, also known as gucharstep. Best productivity tools for Linux.

As you can see in the left hand column of the image, you can switch to other alphabets really easily. Therefore if you want to use Ethiopic, Hiragana, Thai, Tamil, or any other kind of alphabet, you can. This is much faster than trying to find the symbol you need on the internet.

3. Treesheets

Treesheets is a multi-purpose data organizer. However, it's real strength in productivity is when it's used for personal Kanban, to give yourself a list of To-do, In prograss, and Done. I use it for this purpose every day and it really increases my productivity.

No need for an internet connection like you do for other Kanbans. This is your own personal Kanban, you use it offline and the data is stored in your document folder (or wherever you want it to be).

Screenshot of Treesheets used as personal Kanban - productivity tools for Linux

If you'd like to find out more, take a look at my article showing you how to use Treesheets as personal Kanban software.

4. Dia

Dia allows you to create or edit diagrams. I've found it by far the quickest and easiest way to add text or arrows to annotate an image. It's also perfect when you need to add opaque rectangles on certain areas of an image to block out sensitive information, as shown below.

Screenshot of Dia, diagram editor. Productivity tools for Linux.

You can export the result to virtually any other file type, including jpg or png.

5. Lifeograph

Lifeograph is an offline private note-taking and diary system. This is ideal if you like to store a bunch of information in different entries in one document, making it fast and easy to access different bits. I used to use Lifeograph for my to-do list until I moved to using TreeSheets for my to-do's. I still like Lifeograph a lot as it's an ideal place to store project notes. You can put everything in one Lifeograph document, or you can create different documents for different projects. It's up to you.

Screenshot of Lifeograph - personal diary software

It can do a lot more than is first apparent, so it's well worth a try if you're looking for a great all-around productivity tool.


Above are what I consider the best productivity tools for Linux. I've used all of them and can attest they have resulted in a lot of improvements in my efficiency. All are available from the Synaptic Package Manager, so you don't need to hunt around for each individual software site. In fact you can just open up Synaptic on your Linux computer and install all of them today all at once!

All our tutorials and advice take you through, step by step, for everything you need to know.

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