If you've ever checked out the list of applications available for the Linux operating system, you know there are tons of them out there. The only problem is determining which ones are worth trying. This is especially true of the office applications. You could dig through those apps for hours just to come up with a handful of gems. So I thought I would do the grunt work for you and highlight 10 of the more obscure applications that actually have valid use in your workplace. These tools range in scope and purpose, but each one of them offers an obvious business value.
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1: PDF Chain
PDF Chain is a great graphical tool that allows you to merge, split, set background/watermark, and add attachments to PDF documents. It's a front end for pdftk and is written in gtkmm. You can merge up to 26 PDFs into one file. You can also rotate pages, set permissions for pages, and encrypt pages. If you work with PDF documents, PDF Chain is a must-have on the Linux platform.
gLabels is an incredibly flexible label and business card designer for the GNOME desktop. It will work with most all inkjet/laser peel-off labels and business card sheets. Not only does gLabels allow you to design labels and cards with the same types of tools you would find in image editing software, it also offers a mail-merge feature that any business user will appreciate.
Kraft is a KDE business organizational tool that helps you create and manage business communications documents. Kraft really shines in the area of creating invoices, offers, etc. It also helps you manage customers, create text templates, perform calculations, manage materials, create PDFs, and much more.
4: MDB Viewer
MDB Viewer can save you a ton of time, effort, and worry by allowing you to read data from a Microsoft Access database (MDB file). It serves as a user-friendly interface for MDB Tools. If MDB Viewer doesn't offer you enough, you can give Kexi a go. Kexi is a KDE-based data management app.
Okular is the Linux answer to the Mac OS X Preview tool. Okular is a universal file viewer that can view PDF, images, Postscript, DjVu, CHM, and many other file formats. From Okular, you can print documents, extract text, view information, search documents, and much more. The developers are currently working on annotation of PDF documents, which will further enhance Okular's use.
GoldenDict is a dictionary manager that serves as a one-stop-shop for all your dictionary needs. It lets you manage dictionaries of all types, including Babylon, StartDict, Dictd, and ABBYY Lingvo. GoldenDict supports Wikipedia/Wictionary/Media-Wiki lookups and enables you to search for and listen to pronunciations from forvo.com. GoldenDict also allows you to search for words using a Hunspell-based morphology system for word stemming and spelling-based suggestions. If you use multiple dictionaries in your office, you need a dictionary manager like GoldenDict.
7: Simple Scan
Simple Scan is a scanning utility that ships with Ubuntu and really does live up to its name. Its user-friendly interface makes it easy for any user, at any level of competency, to create scans as either images or PDF files. Unfortunately, if your scanner isn't supported in Linux, Simple Scan will not work. Simple Scan was created by Canonical for Ubuntu but now is available for other distributions, such as Fedora.
RedNoteBook is a great journaling application that allows you create journal entries and then tag them, spell check them, format them, add images/links/files to them, do a live search on them, use word clouds, export them to various formats, and translate them into more than 20 languages. With RedNoteBook, you can create templates that will make your journaling even simpler. You can also make annotations and view statistics of your entries.
TOra is an outstanding GUI that allows you to manage most of the common database formats (Oracle, MySQL, Postgresql). It has been built for Linux, Windows, and Mac and offers regular database queries and browsing. It includes a SQL worksheet with syntax highlighting, a PL/SQL debugger, and a full set of DBA tools. Although TOra isn't directed toward the average office user, anyone who needs to manage a database will appreciate it.
KeePassX is a must-have for anyone who has to remember a LOT of passwords or other forms of secure data. With this tool, you can save usernames, passwords, URLs, sign-on information, attachments, and comments in a single, protected database. This database of sensitive information is then encrypted with either AES or Twofish, using a 256-bit key. KeePassX has a user-friendly interface that any level of user will find easy to use.
Do you have a favorite?As you can see, Linux (and open source) offers a wide assortment of office applications. I have tried to give the largest cross-section of types so that you will be tempted to take a deeper look into what's available. Have you already discovered some Linux business apps you can recommend to other TechRepublic members?
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.