Handy Applications For Linux

Many additional applications might prove useful on a day-to-day basis. Here we review some of the more common ones.


The GNOME Calculator (also known as Gcalctool) can be found on the Applications menu. In its default mode, it shouldn’t present any challenges to anyone who has ever used a real-life calculator.

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Figure. GNOME Calculator

Calculator also has other modes that you can switch into by using the View menu. Perhaps the three most useful modes for general use are Advanced, Financial, and Scientific. All offer calculator functions relevant to their settings. The Advanced mode is simply a more complicated version of the basic Calculator. It can store numbers in several memory locations, for example, and can also carry out less-common calculations, such as square roots and reciprocals.

Archive Manager

Archive Manager (also known as File Roller), is Ubuntu’s archive tool. It’s the default program that opens whenever you double-click .zip files (or .tar, .gz, or .bzip2 files, which are the native archive file formats under Linux).

To extract files from an archive, select them (hold down the Ctrl key to select more than one file) and then click the Extract button on the toolbar.

To create an archive on the fly, select files or folders in a Nautilus file browser window, right-click the selection, and select Compress. Give the archive a name, and the archive will be created. To add new files to an existing archive, double-click an archive file and then drag and drop files into the Archive Manager window. When you’ve finished, simply close the Archive Manager window.

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Figure . Archive Manager


You can use the Dictionary tool to look up the definitions of words in the Collaborative International Dictionary of English 1 . This dictionary is based on a 1913 edition of Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, but with some additional modern definitions. The Dictionary tool is useful for quick lookups, although if you want a precise and modern definition of a word, you might consider using a more contemporary source.

After installing the gnome-dictionary package using Ubuntu Software Center, you can easily start it from the Applications menu in the Unity Launcher. Type the word in the Look Up text box at the top of the window, and its definition will appear in the area below. As soon as you start typing, the program will begin to look up the word in the dictionary, and this can cause a momentary delay before the letters appear on your screen.

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Figure . Dictionary


Ubuntu comes with a great selection of simple games, including Mines. The equivalent of the Windows Minesweeper game, Mines can be found on the Applications menu. The rules are identical, too: on each grid are several hidden mines, and it’s your job to locate them. After you’ve clicked one square at random, you’ll see a series of empty squares and several with numbers in them. Those with numbers indicate that a bomb is near. Your job is to deduce where the bombs are and then mark them by right-clicking them. You have to do this as quickly as possible because you’re being timed. To change the grid size, click Settings  Preferences. Your choices are Small, Medium, Large, and Custom.

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Figure . Mines