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It’s not easy to put up a list of “best” applications which do something, however there are some highlights in each category which really deserve to be mentioned. In this article I will overview 20 KDE applications which I believe are best in their niche, one application from each important category, in no particular order.

BasKet (Notes-taking application)
I think each time I’ve talked about BasKet I mentioned it is a ‘killer app’ for Linux. BasKet is a full-blown notes-taking application for KDE, but it takes the concept to a whole new dimension, bringing features which make it a fully-fledged content creation program. It supports inserting text, images, links, frames. It organizes notes in a tree-like hierarchical manner, supports tags, importing notes from other notes-taking applications or text files, back/restore function.

BasKet 1.81

Amarok (Music player)
Amarok 2.x has reached the level of maturity each Amarok user expected from such a player, especially since the change from the older 1.4 releases. It has countless features, including music library, lyrics and info widgets, powerful configurable playlist, scripting support, 5-star rating system, 10-band equalizer, integrated music stores and much, much more.

Amarok 2.4.0

Rekonq (Web browser)
When it comes to web browsers, most people use Firefox, Chrome, Opera or Safari on Mac OS X, so there isn’t much room for others. However, there usually is a small group which likes more to use a browser such as Epiphany in GNOME, or Rekonq in KDE. I wasn’t sure to choose between Konqueror and Rekonq, however I opted for the latter not because it’s better (they’re using the same engine), but because Konqueror is also a file manager and much more, while Rekonq only focuses on web browsing capabilities. Rekonq has an interface which resembles the one of Google Chrome and ituses the WebKit rendering engine. Except for all the usual features, it provides capabilities like private browsing (known from Firefox 4), fullscreen mode or changing browser user-agent. Rekonq is very fit for those who are looking for a web browser that integrates perfectly in KDE.

Rekonq 0.7.0

KSnapshot (Screenshot taking program)
The default screenshot taking program, KSnapshot will not only take a simple screenshot, but also offers various options: you can only capture the window under the cursor, select a rectangular region of the screen, select a freehand region of the screen, or only a section of a window. KSnapshot also allows to include or exclude window decorations or the mouse pointer, can save the image to various image formats including PNG or JPG, and it also offers a menu to open the image in another application. I ask you, how much more usable an application which could seem so unimportant could get?

KSnapshot 0.8.2

K3b (Burning application)
The most famous burning program for KDE, K3b can save projects, create ISO images, burn CDs/DVDs, burn ISO images, copy CDs or DVDs, rip audio CDs, on-screen display (OSD), notifications, multi-session burning.

K3b 2.0.2

KTorrent (BitTorrent client)
BitTorrent is probably the most used and efficient protocol for transferring files. What doesn’t cease to amaze me is that although you wouldn’t expect much from a BitTorrent client application, KTorrent continues to improve and to bring new features with each release. Currently it includes anything you would want from such a program: download certain files in torrents only, pausing/resuming downloading, BitTorrent search engines integration, tabs, support for scripts and plugins, shutdown configuration, download queue, notifications, speed limits configuration, protocol-specific parameters configuration.

KTorrent 4.0.5

Kaffeine (Movie player)
Kaffeine is a pretty decent video player with support for subtitles, playlists, and can play various video formats, DVDs, Digital TV.

Kaffeine 1.1

DigiKam (Photo manager)
DigiKam received a lot of acclamation lately, and with every release it gets better, to the delight of the fans. Although I don’t use it very often (I’m not much of a camera guy), every once in a while I try it to see what’s new under the hood. It provides KIPI plugins integration, image processing effects and tools, importing and exporting images, support for collections, support for albums, tags. These to mention a few. Try it if you need a good photo manager and didn’t know about it yet.

DigiKam 1.9.0

Yakuake (Console application)
This is a well-known gem for all users who prefer a Quake-style console over the typical terminal emulators like Konsole or GNOME Terminal. It can be shown or hidden using the F12 keyboard shortcut.

Yakuake 2.9.8

Krusader (File manager)
Krusader is a very powerful twin-panel file manager which provides tools for any possible way to work and interact with files. It features previews, window splitting, zooming in/out, quick access keys to usual functions (Midnight Commander style), tabs, archive tools integration and many more.

Krusader 2.3.0 Beta 1

Kdenlive (Video editor)
Kdenlive is a feature-rich video editor, allowing to cut/crop videos, add audio and video effects, preview the results and save the work as 1080p or 720p HD formats, PAL or NTSC.

Kdenlive 0.7.8

K9Copy (DVD shrinking application)
K9copy uses mencoder or ffmpeg to rip DVDs, and it supports many MPEG 4 encoders, which have preset settings, but can be edited manually. K9copy also allows to set a custom size for the output file and select in how many files should the video be split.

K9copy 2.3.6

Konversation (IRC client)
Konversation is a user-friendly and highly configurable IRC (Internet Relay Chat) application. The only drawback is that it doesn’t support event-driven scripts, but otherwise it offers every possible option to customize it and have a pleasant time on IRC.

Konversation 1.3.1

Krita (Image editor and manipulation program)
Although the website describes Krita as a painting application, it is actually KDE’s most powerful image manipulation application, being also the only one powerful enough to be a perfect alternative to GIMP. It provides tools, effects, filters, saving and opening all the major image formats out there.

Krita 2.3.3

Kate (Text editor)
Kate is not only a text editor, but a powerful tool for writing code too. It includes dozens of features, from which are noteworthy syntax highlighting, block selection mode, automatic indentation, word wrap, spell-checking function, plugin support, bookmarks, sessions, embedded terminal, split window horizontally or vertically. These are not all of its features though, and I can’t cover them all here. Kate can be used successfully to develop projects in various programming languages.

Kate 3.6.2

Kopete (Chat client)
For IM purposes, KDE uses Kopete, a chat client with support for many protocols like Jabber, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, WLM or Skype. It shows contact avatars, chat window themes, emoticons, plugins and video support.

Kopete 1.0.80

KGet (Download manager)
KGet can be integrated in Konqueror, it supports plugins, web interface, downloading and verifying signature keys, pausing/resuming downloads, set downloading priorities, and notifications.

KGet 2.6.2

KDevelop (KDE development environment)
KDevelop is a gigantic IDE, and although made especially for programming in Qt and KDE projects, it can be used successfully for developing in other languages too. It provides tools to generate scripts, skeleton code, templates, and much, much more.

KDevelop 4.2.2

KMail (Email client)
KMail is the default email client in KDE, being a mature, full-featured application. It has support for POP3 and IMAP, tons of options and other tools. On June 10 the Kontact suite (the one which includes KMail) received several new features in KDE 4.6.4, which include faster email notifications, interoperability with other applications and improved performance for IMAP accounts.

KMail 1.13.6

Akregator (Feeds client)
Being a dedicated feed client, Akregator offers much more than what applications like Firefox provide. Akregator is the KDE news feed reader, with support for RSS and Atom feeds, features like system tray integration, notifications, automated feed fetching, configurable appearance and a tree-like way of organizing feeds.

Akregator 1.6.6

Instead of a conclusion, here are a few other powerful applications which fit very well in KDE:

  • SMPlayer – powerful video player built in Qt and using MPlayer
  • Konqueror – full-featured file manager, web browser and more
  • Dolphin – de facto file manager in KDE
  • VLC – Qt-based movie player, so I couldn’t include it in the review
Tom says:

There is also Kile, the best GUI Latex editor for any platform.

Axel says:

Some more that come to my mind:
Clementine (A fork of Amarok 1.x), Kid3 (best MP3 tag editor), Gwenview (simple image viewer), and of course Dolphin as best filemanager.

Craciun Dan says:

Actually Gwenview is quite the perfect application to complete this. I don’t know how I missed it, looks like I included Krita and DigiKam but I completely forgot about the image viewer. Regarding Clementine, I put Amarok there (I know, it’s hard to choose between such good applications, but I still consider Amarok to be the “de facto” player for KDE). Same for Dolphin, I included Krusader — and it only contains one single application from each category. Kid3 is also a useful application for those who edit audio files tags.

TheSPhead says:

Amarok – so bloated, with tons of unneeded features, but still without proper gapless playback

the_madman says:

Gapless playback was an issue in Phonon, not Amarok. It is being fixed in Phonon’s GStreamer back-end which will fix it in all Phonon-based applications, including Amarok and Juk.

zhangyou says:

I don’t think the gapless playback will be fixed in a near future, considering it has been worked on for, like, ever. As far as Clementine gets podcast support, I will get rid of the disappointing amarok for sure.

Alex Kuster says:

Yeaaaaahhh, I was a little bit disturbed by the windows-like look of the desktop, but anyways … good review :)

Craciun Dan says:

Thank you. It wasn’t a window decoration I use, but I wanted to change the default for the screenshots and it seemed pretty nice.

Rajit says:

Speaking of the window decoration, I really like it. Mind shedding some light on the deatails? Like the WM used and the particular theme?

Morris says:

You can make KDE (like most of the desktop managers) look however you want, including getting rid of the panel, installing a Mac OS type task manager (docky) etc.

Rajit says:

Konversation seems like KDE’s XChat. Give Quassel a shot.

PuddleTag audio tag editor is much more featureful than KID3 and is (IMO) much better.

MrBeast says:

Oh what, Dolphin is not in the list? It definitly should be. It’s the best file manager ever.

Jean-Claude Lorin says:

I would like to mention gpodder (http://gpodder.org/) an excellent podcast aggregator especially if you want to transfer your podcasts to an Ipod or MP3reader such as ZEN X-fi which is something you cannot do if you use Amarok or Clementine

ErikK says:

Gwenview is the only app that I need from KDE!

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