Windows equivalents in Ubuntu

I often try to get people to use Ubuntu.  Not only is it way more reliable, secure, and free.  Did I mention its free?  The biggest draw back though, is not knowing what the Ubuntu equivalent applications are to the Windows counter parts.  One nice thing is that there are usual several very good equivalents in Ubuntu, so I try to list a few.  So lets take a look at some of them

Text Editor

Most people use notepad or wordpad.  In Ubuntu we have gedit, which is most similar, but nano can also work.  gedit will bring up a notepad clone, while nano is a command line editor.  One of the nice features in nano and gedit is that if you are working on a programming file (bash, xml, html, etc), auto syntax highlighting will occur.  This can mean quite a bit to programmers as it makes reading/writing code quite a bit easier.

Microsoft Office

The closest equivalent to Microsoft Office is Open Office.  Although it does a good job in general, it has also had some interoperability problems in the past.  You may also consider Google Docs as another alternative.  Open office does have a rough equivalent of all of the MS Office programs, so you should feel pretty comfortable with it.

Instant Messaging

Back in the days, everyone used AIM.  Now everyone is spread, but mostly people tend to use Gmail Chat, Skype and Facebook.  Luckily there are two clients now that can do pretty much every chat service you an think of: Empathy, and Pidgin.  I love using pidgin on Windows as it allows me to talk work (sametime), social (gmail chat), and hobby (irc) all at once.  Empathy is nicely integrated into the dock for Ubuntu, so it is also a great option.


A few years ago, there was no way you could release my grip on Outlook.  My Windows Mobile 6 synced all of my info, and it was the best invention ever.  Along came google, and changed it all.  Keep all my data synced in the cloud?  Done deal.  I tend to stick with gmail now, but I have helped clients move off of Outlook Express and on to Evolution, or Thunderbird.  Thunderbird is created by Mozilla (firefox creators), and is a great option, along with a calender extension.  I have not had any experience with Evolution, but it is the default for Ubuntu, so it must be good!

Web Browser

At this point, most people don’t use Internet Explorer.  Most have migrated on to Firefox,  or Chromium (Google Chrome).  Check my post on Google Chrome plug-ins to really make the best of the web:


Photoshop is by far the best program for editing photos.  There just isn’t an equivalent for the serious photographers out there.  For those who just want to do minor touches to photos, Ubuntu includes Shotwell, which is similar to using flickr.  For those who need something a little more hardcore, there is Gimp.  Gimp is a poor man’s photoshop, and I don’t think it will ever be near as good.  Sometimes though you need a free option, and Gimp is here!


Itunes is one of the leaders in love/hate relationships with me.  I love the ability to buy music online easily, and put it on my ipod.  I hate the fact that I need to install a 100+mb package to do such, and that it has all kinds of services, and open ports on my machine.  Love the quick search, and organization it provides, hate that it tries to install mobile me and safari each update.  Banshee is the Ubuntu equivalent, and after a long struggle between linux and i devices (ipod, etc), they are now able to sync.  I have stuck with Itunes on Windows though, so this one is all you!

Quite a few of the programs listed here have Windows equivalents.  Definitely worth a try, you may save yourself some time and money!  Any non-sourced images are from the product vendor’s website.

Image Source:,r:9,s:0&biw=1280&bih=675

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