Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Image Apps

Standards, Methodology, Test System Specs, And Legend


This is a collection of easy-to-install applications intended for anyone considering a switch from Windows to Linux. This essentially means that these applications must fall in line with the realistic expectations of an average end-user in either a home or office desktop environment.

The three main criteria for these apps are: usability, quality, and popularity. As usual, I've opened up our test bed to include the top three distros: Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Fedora. For an app to even appear in this article, it has to be available in one of the top three Linux distributions' official software repositories (repos), or as .deb or .rpm files from the software vendor's official Web site.

If you need a refresher, please reference Desktop Linux for the Windows Power User for an explanation of package management. Apps that had too many bugs, crashes, or other general failures were left out. The quality of an app is determined by comparing its feature set to the industry-leading title in that category (whenever one exists). In the event that there are no clear industry-leading apps to compare, don't worry about a relaxation of standard; anything that looks like it came out of a Win9x time capsule doesn't pass.

Since Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is in a constant state of bug reporting and fixing, the most popular apps will naturally have the most complete sampling of users, in turn producing an even better title. Also, because support is mainly handled by the community, popular software naturally has more documentation and fewer compatibility issues. Therefore, popularity greatly influences the order in which equally usable apps of similar quality are listed. This includes extra weight given to multi-platform applications. For a more comprehensive explanation of the standards we apply to the applications, please reference the Standards and Methodology page from the first segment: Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup: Internet Apps.

Exclusion #1: Web Apps & Online Services

Almost every article showcasing Web-based apps and online services is applicable to Linux as well as Windows, even if not specifically stated.

Exclusion #2: Windows Apps

Though I will include a page on virtualization and emulation, it is to showcase the actual virtualization/emulation software. I do not delve into the details of getting any specific Windows app running in Linux.

Exclusion #3: Preferences

User preferences like the alluring 3D desktop effects, screen savers, and panels/launchers are not covered in this series. There is an upcoming how-to piece for the different preference options.

Exclusion #4: Games

Native casual games, free games, indie games, retail games, as well as virtualized platforms and emulation will be covered in a future rundown of Linux gaming.

Exclusion #5: Servers

This is a follow-up to the first article, and therefore concentrates on Linux as being an alternative OS for consumers. Nothing server-side; only client-side.


This article is the fourth of seven parts in Tom's Definitive Linux Software Roundup and my main production machine has undergone a few upgrades since I began the series. The new hardware configuration is listed in the table below.

64-bit Desktop Test System Specs

Host OS
Ubuntu Studio 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" (64-bit)
Intel Core i5-750 @ 2.80 GHz (quad-core)
Gigabyte GA-P55-UD7 (F7 BIOS)
8 GB Crucial DDR3 @ 1333 MT/s (2 x 4 GB)
AMD Radeon HD 4870 Reference Board (512 MB GDDR5) PCIe 2.0
Seagate Barracude 7200.12 500 GB SATA 3 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 16 MB Cache
Power Supply
Corsair TX750W (750 W max)
Zalman MS1000-HS2
CPU Cooler
Scythe Mugen 2 Revision B

In order to determine Ubuntu compatibility, I used a fresh and updated virtual machine (VM) installation of Ubuntu 10.10 (32-bit) with the default GNOME graphical user interface (GUI). To check openSUSE compatibility, I used openSUSE 11.3 (32-bit), with the KDE GUI. For Fedora, I used Fedora 14 (32-bit) with GNOME.

Virtual Machine Specs

Oracle VirtualBox 3.2.10 r66523
Guest OS 1
Ubuntu 10.10 "Maverick Meerkat" Desktop Edition (32-bit)
Guest OS 2
Fedora 14 "Laughlin" (32-bit)
Guest OS 3
openSUSE 11.3 (32-bit)
1 CPU--AMD-V and Nested Paging enabled
Base Memory
1532 MB
Video Memory
128 MB--3D Acceleration enabled
8 GB--Dynamically Expanding
PulseAudio Audio Driver

In order to test the feature sets of these applications (and to determine 64-bit friendliness) I fell back on my host OS, a native (non-VM) and fully updated installation of 64-bit Ubuntu Studio 10.10. When an application was not available for the 64-bit architecture, I used the 32-bit VM installation of Ubuntu. The version number that I evaluated appears in parentheses next to each application's name. This may not necessarily be the latest version or the same version available via your distribution's software repository.


An application's logo links to its homepage (e.g. Firefox =

indicates availability in the default Ubuntu repos.

indicates availability in the default openSUSE repos.

indicates availability in the default Fedora repos.

links to an available .deb package download.

links to an available .rpm package download.

indicates that the app has no official 64-bit binary (though source/shell may work).

links to an available Windows download.

links to an available Mac download.

indicates that the application is a retail product.

Note: The icons used in this article were borrowed from the hydroxygen icon set by deviantdark and hosted on along with a host of other high-quality theming elements.

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  • jhansonxi
    You forgot MyPaint.
  • jkhanlar
    and scrot
  • Anonymous
    darktable is a good alternative to existing products for both management and processing of photos...missing that one in this roundup.
  • sudeshc
    dont know exactly why but i never tried Linux i guess its time to take a test drive, thanks toms for this article.
  • Anonymous
    I sedcond you, darktable is indeed great RAW software
  • dEAne
    wow I didn't know these things, thank you a lot.
  • nvarras7
    Have been on Ubuntu since 10.04 was beta and haven't looked back!
  • nvarras7
    nvarras7Have been on Ubuntu since 10.04 was beta and haven't looked back!
  • Anonymous
    Definitive? How about programs like feh and gpicview?
    i love linux! but then i look at my steam account and shed a tire D:
  • Anonymous
    Great article. Its always hard to locate programs when friends ask for good free ones. This will help immensity. Now I'll just point them to this source. Thanks!
  • reggieray
    Ubuntu rocks
  • Anonymous
    Picasa is avaiable for Linux...handles RAW images and provides some basic editing capabilities and organization.
  • jamesontoms
    Either I'm out of date,
    or Toms Hardware overlooked the three image viewers I use in Debian.
    I have used their features
    full screen

    a. feh
    feh -D 5 #gives a slideshow, changing every 5 seconds
    feg 0t #Uses the thumbnail approach
    n and p for next and previous image
    b. qiv
    -R #so you don't accidently delete a file within qiv ("u" to undelete)
    -s #start a slideshow
    +/- #zoom
    f #full screen

    c. xzgv
  • jj463rd
    sudeshcdont know exactly why but i never tried Linux i guess its time to take a test drive, thanks toms for this article.

    Yeah give it a try.You can use the Try Ubuntu method or install it instead on a older secondary PC.It's definitely worthwhile and easy.I've been using it on a couple of systems since version 8.04.
  • Anonymous
    Since you're using Blender as an alternative to Maya, I think it's worth mentioning that Autodesk Maya 2011 64bit is officially supported in both RHEL 5.4 and Fedora 11, the latter being completely free.
  • ProDigit10
    Kolour Paint?
  • the_crippler
    Really enjoyed the article and am looking forward to the sound one. I love the Gimp, and use it regularly. Some other apps on this list I hadn't heard of or realized a need for their function. Now I have some new software to try out when I get home.
  • Peciura
    Time for virtual machine.
  • bounty
    Since you go into doc scanning software, any OCR apps?