11 Must-Have Linux Productivity Tools

Many people think that Linux lacks applications, but they couldn’t be more wrong. This is especially true when it comes to useful Linux productivity tools that make your day-to-day work and life easier.

However, finding productivity tools can be difficult, so we’ve put together a list of 11 great productivity apps for Linux OS.

The productivity tools we’ll be going over are all associated with smarter work, being more productive, and getting easy day-to-day tasks done more efficiently.

New Linux users may not realize what a wide variety of productivity tools they have at their fingertips, simply because they aren’t as well advertised as their Windows and Mac counterparts.

The list below focuses on productivity utilities more than the basic office tools such as OpenOffice, KOffice, Gnumeric and AbiWord.

1. Hubstaff

hubstaff employee monitoring example screen

Hubstaff is an easy-to-use Linux time tracking tool that utilizes a desktop app in order to record time. Users simply select the project they are working on and begin the timer.

The app will then record various information, capture random screenshots (an option that can be customized or turned off), track activity (based on keyboard and mouse usage) along with applications used and URLs visited.

Hubstaff also:

  • Compiles automatic reports that can be used for invoicing or internal records
  • Integrates with over 30+ payroll and project management software
  • Handles employee payroll automatically (a useful feature for companies who employ a virtual workforce)
  • Tracks time off and vacation requests and balances
  • Emails daily timesheets so you get accurate hours on a regular basis

The data Hubstaff collects can be used for many things. Online timesheets can be used to calculate payments and activity levels can be used to see productivity trends over time.

You can see which projects are taking too much time or over budget. Screenshots can also be used to ensure a remote worker is truly working on the right project, or they can be used to prove to a client that the work that was billed for is valid.

Plus, the software is available completely free for 14 days so you can try out the features for yourself.

2. F.lux for Linux

F.lux Linux sample

Sleep is the basis of a good and productive workday. As modern workers, we stare at our screens a lot and that’s the same as looking at the sun moments before trying to fall asleep.

As a user of Linux, you’re likely to be even more extreme with the number of hours you spend in front of the screen, especially during important work periods that can easily span into the night.

F.lux is a well-known application across all platforms and operating systems that dims out the blue light of the screen in accordance with the wake-up time that you’ve set. It works in a similar pattern to the sun, simulating sunrise and sunset on your screen.

The effect of F.lux is a more natural screen and the release of melatonin naturally, at the right time of the day.

At first, the program seems a bit odd as it makes your screen go red during late hours. However, after you get used to it, it’s hard to live without it. It’s well designed for different uses, if you require color-sensitive work, you can pause it at any moment.

To start using F.lux for Linux, download it here.

3. Kexi

kexi for Linux Hubstaff

If you work with data, you need an app that can access all sorts of databases and datasets.

It helps if the app lets you import databases from Windows or use a universal file format, such as CSV. This is where Kexi comes in. This is a must-have app for anyone in data and database management.

Kexi is known as the “Microsoft Access” for Linux, which might be a suitable description if you’ve spent time working with Access. It’s a great tool for managing all sorts of data.

Kexi is an all-in-one application for creating databases, forms for data entry, and entering data and running reports. It will work with SQLite for locally hosted databases, or you can use Kexi in conjunction with MySQL and PostgreSQL databases remotely.

It can also import MS Access databases in the .mdb/.mde formats. If needed, you can import Comma Separated Value (CSV) data with Kexi (if you have a data export from one of the many programs that will produce CSV).

Kexi can take a little while to get started with if you’re not familiar with designing your own database and forms. But it’s a fairly forgiving program and with a little trial and error you’ll be wondering how you ever got by without it.

Most Linux distros should have Kexi packaged in the repos, just check for the “kexi” package.

Track your time working in Linux

Desktop timer, productivity features, payments, and more

4. Referencer

Anyone who’s ever produced any type of report knows how easy it is to get lost in your references, notes, and other data. Staying organized is the key to being productive, Referencer fits the bill by organizing your documents and references while putting together research.

The primary use case for Referencer is for putting together bibliography files in the BibTeX format, but it’s not required. Even if you’re not trying to generate a bibliography, it can be very handy for organizing files and keeping track of notes or other data.

But if you are putting together a bibliography, it’s an invaluable tool. If you’re working with PDFs that have the right kind of bibliographic information, Referencer can automatically search for reference info and metadata about the document.

5. PDF Mod

pdf mod Hubstaff

PDFs can be opened from any device and OS, which makes them a great way to share presentations, send invoices, proposals or any other day-to-day documents. However, editing them can be a hassle, so a good PDF editing software for Linux will almost certainly come in handy.

The static nature of PDFs limits their usefulness and makes simple things such as trimming a document or adding a page not supported by default PDF handling programs.

This is where PDF Mod comes in. Its mission in life is very simple: to let users make simple edits to PDFs.

Want to drop a few pages from a PDF before sending it on? PDF Mod will let you do that. Want to add a few pages to a PDF? You can do that too. Have a presentation saved as a PDF but want to re-order your slides? Yep, you can swap pages around with PDF Mod. It’s easy to see how this program makes the list of the top Linux productivity apps.

PDF Mod won’t let you annotate or edit a PDF, so if you need to fix a typo on page 15 of a report, you’ll need to have the original source that produced the PDF. But for simple edits, PDF Mod a really useful tool to have handy.

Right now PDF Mod is not in the official package repositories for most distros, but you should be able to find packages pretty easily. The PDF Mod page links to packages for openSUSE, Ubuntu, Fedora, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop.

6. Okular

okular Hubstaff

Okular is another good tool to have around for working with PDFs, but more importantly, other document types. Especially if they’re sent from people using different operating systems.

Okular is known as the “universal document viewer of Linux,” and it can open almost any file format for documents you may come across.

Okular also supports most image types, PDFs, PostScript files, OpenDocument Format text files, TeX DVI files, and many others. It’s easy to see how this tool is a must-have for increasing productivity in your day-to-day work.

In addition to allowing you to view the files, Okular will also allow you to annotate your documents and share reviews with other Okular users. For example, if you have a PDF you need to mark up before something goes to print, Okular allows you to make annotations right on the PDF file instead of having to print it out, add your edits, then scan and send back.

Okular is available for most major distros that have KDE packages. If you have KDE installed, it should already be installed. If not, it should be available from your package repo as “okular.”

The #1 Linux productivity tool

Track time and improve work performance — free for 14 days.

7. Kontact

kontact Linux Hubstaff

The reason why many people use Windows Office or GSuite is the ease of access to all day-to-day tools within one interface. Kontact lets you do just that.

Users can access all personal information, such as email, calendar, notes, and even news feeds, all from one software.

Kontact is a suite of all of those tools, designed to increase productivity and add enormous value to the users by bringing everything together. This includes KMail, KAddressBook, the KJots notetaker, Akregator feed reader, KOrganizer calendaring app, journal application, and more.

You can run some of the Kontact applications separately (KOrganizer includes the calendaring and journaling features) or as an all-in-one productivity powerhouse. The nice thing about using the Kontact container, though, is that it puts everything in one handy window and provides a summary page that displays your events, to-dos, pop-up notes, and new messages if you’re using KMail.

Kontact should be easy to come by with any major Linux distro that features KDE. Just look for the “kontact” package and you’ll be good to go.

8. Tomboy

Tomboy Linux Hubstaff

Tomboy is a note-taking application for the Linux desktop that makes managing information much easier. It’s suitable for everything from short notes (“get milk, coffee, and eggs”) to taking notes during meetings, or for project research.

Some note-taking apps just try to replicate sticky notes for the desktop or require a lot of structure to manage notes.

Tomboy is as simple or as complex as you want it to be. You can simply jot notes with abandon and use its search features to find what you’re looking for, or you can create notebooks and keep your notes organized by category.

Tomboy also goes above and beyond by allowing synchronization, so if you’re using more than one computer it’s easy to keep notes synced across computers. With the right plugins enabled, you can also export notes from Tomboy to HTML, integrate notes with the Evolution mailer and manage links to bugzillas.

Most Linux distros should include packages for Tomboy either in the default install or in the package repos. Just look for “tomboy” using your favorite package manager.

9. gLabels

If you find yourself needing to print out labels, business cards or anything else, either as a part of your job day-to-day or just a one-off, this can be extremely hard on Linux.

Most companies assume that users are running Windows or Mac OS X, and it can be hard to find templates for printing labels using Linux.

Luckily, there’s gLabels: a utility for printing to all sorts of business card and label sheets that saves you a lot of time and hassle.

gLabels may not support every type of label and business card sheet you want, but it is quite comprehensive. It supports a wide range of brands, from Avery to Zweckform, and has a number of templates.

gLabels offers CD templates, address labels, round labels, and even templates for floppy diskette labels — so you can pretty much find any sort of label you might require.

If gLabels doesn’t have the template you want, you can use their Template Designer, which guides users through creating rectangular or round labels, or CD and DVD materials.

It takes all the hassle out of trying to replicate a label template in a drawing program, and only requires that you measure the template you want for the size of the labels and the margins on the sheet, and then enter them in the Template Designer dialog.

gLabels has been around for quite some time, so you should be able to find it for Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, Debian, etc.

10. Kivio

Kivio Linux Hubstaff

Kivio is one of the best free software applications for creating flowcharts and diagrams. It’s perfect for project planning, infrastructure planning or just visualizing anything that you might need to map out.

Kivio is a mature and usable flowchart and diagram application that’s simple to get started with and includes quite a few templates. If you’re using KOffice, it should integrate well with those apps to include objects in your documents. If not, Kivio will export to JPEG, PNG, and BMP which should cover any other application that you might want to import charts and diagrams into.

As with Kexi and Kontact, Kivio has been around for quite some time and is packaged for all the major distros. For a more detailed look at Kivio, check out Jack Wallen’s recent tutorial here at Linux.com.

11. AutoKey

autokey

Image via Linuxaria

AutoKey is designed to manage collections of scripts or phrases. The program lets users insert any pre-set phrases or text with a hotkey. You can also set this program up to run any scripts or open programs with a few clicks.

It’s easy to see how AutoKey comes in handy in various situations, from beginner Linux users to advanced Linux hackers. It can be used to simply auto-fill parts of repetitive emails, such as any instructions or signatures. Or, you can set up AutoKey to open the console with a shortcut hotkey.

Developers can use this software to auto-fill any repetitive code pieces or quickly import templates.

The opportunities with this software are endless. If you’re looking to increase your Linux productivity, you should give AutoKey a try.

What are your favorite Linux productivity tools?

This is, of course, just a sampling of all the great desktop productivity tools you’ll find for Linux. You’ll get the full picture once you start trials and see which ones work best for you.

For example, our own Hubstaff Linux time tracking application has a host features and benefits that you can explore. You just need to get started.

This post was originally published July 31, 2015, and updated May 2019.