Useful Applications

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Useful Applications

This page will never be complete. It just shows some good applications for the everyday user.
It might also be worthwhile to check out Lightweight Software as well.

Web browser


The ever-popular Firefox web browser is available through pacman, although it does not have its official branding. Therefore, the program appears as its development codename, Shiretoko, when opened.

Install with:

pacman -S firefox


Be sure and install 'flashplugin',and the 'mplayer-plugin'packages for a complete web experience:

pacman -S flashplugin mplayer-plugin

Gecko Media Player

A good replacement of the now ageing mplayer-plugin, is Gecko Media Player. More stable combined with MPlayer 1.0RC2. (No more crashes with Apple Trailers.)

pacman -S gecko-mediaplayer

(Note! Be sure to remove mplayer-plugin if it is already installed.)

Thunderbird is useful for managing your emails. If you are using GNOME you may want to take a look at Epiphany and Evolution; if you are using KDE Konqueror and KMail could be your choice. If you want something completely different you can still use Opera. Finally, if you are working on the system console - or in a terminal session - you could use various text-based browsers like ELinks, Links and Lynx, and manage your emails with Mutt. Pidgin (previously known as Gaim) and Kopete are good instant messengers for GNOME and KDE, respectively. PSI and Gajim are perfect if you are using only Jabber or Google Talk.


A full set of LaTeX Programs: tetex has been popular for many years and still works, and its successor Texlive is available from the extra repository.

KOffice is a revolutionary office suite. It is sharply developing to koffice2. is a complete office suite (similar to Microsoft Office). Abiword is a good, small alternative word processor, and Gnumeric an Excel replacement for the GNOME desktop. Go-openoffice

GIMP (or GIMPShop) is a pixel-based graphics program (similar to Adobe Photoshop), while Inkscape is a vector-based graphics program (like Adobe Illustrator).

Video Player


VLC Player is a versatile multimedia player which can many different formats, from a disc or file. It also provides the ability to stream multimedia over a lan. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S vlc

(TODO) Instructions for VLC mozilla plug-in


MPlayer is a multimedia player for Linux. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S mplayer

It also has a Mozilla plug-in for videos and streams embedded in web pages. To install it, simply type the code below. NOTE: mplayer-plugin is considered to be obsolete, please see Gecko Media Player above.

pacman -S mplayer-plugin

If you use KDE, KMplayer is a better choice. It comes with a plug-in for videos and streams embedded in web pages, which works with Konqueror. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S kmplayer

(TODO) GMPlayer instructions


Xine is an excellent player, especially for DVDs.

pacman -S xine-ui


The libdvdcss library provides DVD decoding for encrypted DVDs. Ensure the legality of using libdvdcss in your country before installing!

pacman -S libdvdcss



Totem is the official movie player of the GNOME desktop environment based on xine-lib or GStreamer (gstreamer is the default which installs with the arch totem package). It features a playlist, a full-screen mode, seek and volume controls, as well as keyboard navigation. It comes with added functionality such as:

  • Video thumbnailer for the file manager
  • Nautilus properties tab
  • Epiphany / Mozilla (Firefox) plugin to view movies inside your browser
  • Webcam utility (in development)

Totem-xine is still the better choice if you want to watch DVDs.

Totem is part of the gnome-extra group; the Totem webbrowser plugin is not.

To install separately:

pacman -S totem

To install the Totem webbrowser plugin:

pacman -S totem-plugin



Kaffeine is a good option for KDE users. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S kaffeine

Audio Player



Amarok is one of the best audio players and music library systems available for KDE. To install it, simply type the code below.

pacman -S amarok



Exaile is a music player written in Python that makes use of the GTK+ toolkit. It tries to be close to the popular Amarok, but in GTK. It is in [community], so install with:

pacman -S exaile


Rhythmbox is an integrated music management application, originally inspired by Apple's iTunes. It is free software, designed to work well under the GNOME Desktop, and based on the powerful GStreamer media framework.

Rhythmbox has a number of features, including:

  • Easy-to-use music browser
  • Searching and sorting
  • Comprehensive audio format support through GStreamer
  • Internet radio support
  • Playlists

To install rhythmbox:

pacman -S rhythmbox

Quod Libet

Quod Libet is a music manager that uses the GStreamer media framework to play audio files. This allows it to play all the file-types that Rhythmbox (which uses GStreamer too) can play. Quod Libet is more suited to non-Gnome desktops since it has a smaller footprint and fewer dependencies than Rhythmbox (Rhythmbox depends on nautilus, which requires a lot of GNOME to be installed).

In addition to the music player/manager, Quod Libet also includes Ex Falso, a tag editor.

Quod Libet's features include:

  • Easy-to-use music browser
  • Searching
  • Comprehensive audio format support through GStreamer
  • Easy Playlist management

To install Quod Libet:

pacman -S quodlibet

Other good audio players are Banshee and Listen. See Gnomefiles to compare them.


Moc is a ncurses-based audio player for the console. Other excellent choices are mpd, cmus, and herrie.

Other X-based

(TODO) Xmms, audacious, bmpx.

Codecs and other multimedia content types (i686 only)


You can use xine-ui, totem-xine, mplayer or kaffeine (just to name three of the big ones) to watch DVDs. The only thing you may miss is libdvdcss. Beware that using it may be illegal in some countries.


Install the flash plugin using

pacman -S flashplugin

to enable Macromedia (now Adobe) Flash in your browser, if you run KDE you should see this after installing flash.


Quicktime codecs are contained in the codecs package. Just type

pacman -S codecs

to install them.


The codec for Realplayer 9 is contained in the codecs package. Just type

pacman -S codecs

to install them. Realplayer 10 is available as a binary package for Linux. You can get it from AUR here.

CD and DVD Burning



K3b (from KDE Burn Baby Burn) is a free software CD and DVD authoring application for GNU/Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems designed for KDE. As is the case with most KDE applications, K3b is written in the C++ programming language and uses the Qt GUI toolkit. K3b provides a graphical user interface to perform most CD/DVD burning tasks like creating an Audio CD from a set of audio files or copying a CD/DVD, as well as more advanced tasks such as burning eMoviX CD/DVDs. It can also perform direct disc-to-disc copies. The program has many default settings which can be customized by more experienced users. The actual disc recording in K3b is done by the command line utilities cdrecord or wodim, cdrdao, and growisofs. As of version 1.0, K3b features a built-in DVD ripper.- licensed under the GPL.

K3b was voted's Multimedia Utility of the Year (2006) by the majority (70%) of voters.

To install:

pacman -S k3b



Brasero is an application that burns CDs/DVDs for the GNOME Desktop. It is designed to be as simple as possible and has some unique features to enable users to create their discs easily and quickly.

To install:

pacman -S brasero

(Todo) cdrecord, graveman...

Abcde is a console-based application for ripping CDs. It supports encoding immediately after ripping, CDDB, and writing tags on-the-fly.

Bashburn is a console-based application for burning isos, CDs, and DVDs. It supports many, if not all of the same things as Brasero and K3b.

Most CD burners are wrappers for cdrecord:

pacman -S cdrkit

If you install packages for CD/DVD burning applications like Brasero or K3B it also installs the CD/DVD burning library for it, like libburn or cdrkit.

A good command-line DVD-burning tool is growisofs:

pacman -S dvd+rw-tools


A good network manager for Linux is wicd. It has few dependencies (compared to network-manager), is fast and lightweight and makes a great tool for any laptop or desktop using wireless networks.


There are several things to do if you want to watch TV under (Arch) Linux. The most important task is to find out which chip your tuner is using. However, quite a lot are supported. Be sure to check at a Hardware Database to be sure (see this list, for example). Once you know your Model, there are just a few steps ahead to get you going.

In most cases, you will need to use the bttv-drivers (other drivers exist, like V4L) together with the I2C-modules. Configuring those is the hardest task. If you are lucky, a

modprobe bttv

will autodetect the card (check dmesg for results). In that case, you need only to install an application to watch TV. We will look at that later, though. If the autodetection did not work, you will need to check the file CARDLIST, which is included in the tarball of bttv to find out the right parameters for your card. A PV951 without radio support would need this line:

modprobe bttv card=42 radio=0

Some cards need the following line to produce sound:

modprobe tvaudio

However, that varies. So just try it out. Some other cards demand the following line:

modprobe tuner

This is subject to trial-and-error, too.

TODO: clarify the installation-procedure

To actually watch TV, install the tvtime-package with

pacman -S tvtime 

and read its manpage.

TODO: clarify some possible problems and procedures. Introduction to XAWTV on another page?

Digital Cameras

Most newer digital cameras are supported as USB mass storage devices, which means that you can simply plug it in and copy the images as you would with external hard drives, or USB sticks.

Older cameras may use the PTP (Picture Transfer Protocol) which requires a "special driver". gPhoto2 provides this driver and allows a shell-based transfer of the images. Several Graphical Interfaces are available for use with gPhoto2:

  • digikam (KDE)
  • gthumb (GNOME)
  • gtkam (GNOME)


pacman -S gphoto2

USB Memory Sticks / Hard Disks

USB Memory Sticks and hard disks are supported out of the box with the USB mass storage device driver and will appear as a new SCSI device (/dev/sdX). If you are using KDE or GNOME you should use dbus and hal (add them to your daemons in /etc/rc.conf), and they will be automatically mounted. If you use a different Desktop Environment you may have a look at ivman.