If you could magically, instantly, create any sort of app for the Linux desktop right now, what would it be?
This question has been tumbling around my brain all weekend thanks to some new (totally spammy) comments being left on an article of mine from 2013 — an article in which I decried the lack of “simple, purposeful” Linux desktop apps.
Now, don’t misunderstand my intention in asking you what you’d create if you could.
I am not saying Linux has an app gap. I am not implying that open-source suffers from any sort of major software malaise. Those of us who use Linux full time know that we’re not short of drop-in replacements for a broad range of well-known software types.
GIMP is, for most of us, every bit as capable as Adobe Photoshop; Kdenlive, Blender and Lightworks all cater to different types of Linux-based video editors; and between Geary, Nylas N1, Evolution, Thunderbird, Sylpheed, K9, there’s barely any e-mail need left uncatered for.
No, I’m asking more about tools that fill a specific need in a specific way. “App” apps if you will.
What sort of app do you find yourself searching for only to come up empty?
LINUX Y U NO MEME APP?
I used to really, really long for a desktop meme-maker.
Why? App envy.
I subscribe to many awesome sites, like Lifehacker, that spotlight awesome apps. I used to see really nifty meme generators that were Windows and Mac OS X only. I really wanted someone to create a simple GTK+ app that could let me hammer out impact bold witticisms over a well established meme template, and let me quickly upload my creations to sites like imgur, in-app.
I’ve since outgrown that desire. A desktop meme maker would be overkill now that many competent online tools exist for the job.
But I feel the point I was making still (somewhat) stands: there are apps that I love using on mobile platforms for which a decent, comparable alternative on the Linux desktop is (currently) missing.
Hope for the future
There’s reason to be hopeful. Though I’d wager that native app development for Ubuntu on Phones and Tablets is far scarcer than it should be, the lure of Convergence is poised to bring apps like Dekko, Music and Calendar to the Ubuntu desktop.
One of my favourite Ubuntu Touch apps is Pockit, an offline-equipped Pocket reader, one I’d dearly love to see make the transition (Pocket offer a native desktop app for OS X).
Snaps will also offer app makers a really clean, sane way to distribute software free of the usual packaging hurdles and distribution headaches.
Back to the question, and over to you
But back to the question: If you could make any sort of native app for your Linux desktop what would it be?
Share your app ideas, inspirations, rants, wants, mockups, etc. in the comments section below. To keep this a realistic discussion — app developers be lurking — let’s avoid the usual clamour for Adobe products and focus on more general themes, such as “a photo manager comparable to iPhoto”, “a native GTK+ Pocket app” , “an e-mail client that handles Exchange”, etc.