Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Thursday, July 29, 2021 at 14:23

This list collects popular computer applications which are free software (also known as libre software) licensed under GNU GPL license. You will find here Blender 3D, VLC, WordPress, GNU OS itself and The Penguin Kernel, among others, including how to install the apps on Ubuntu. Let's share!

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GNU Operating System

The first and only free operating system developed to win user's freedom in their computing. Its mascot is an African animal wildebeest (a gnu). GNU is often found in a combination with the kernel, Linux, as a unity called GNU/Linux. GNU OS is consisted of multiple components with various licenses and most of them are licensed under GNU GPL. The origin of GPL license is of course GNU just like the name suggest.


The world most well known kernel with penguin logo is under GPL. It is the kernel of hundreds of operating systems, including Ubuntu and Android, that empowers almost all known computers from the smallest to the biggest ones, including smartphones and supercomputers.   


GNU C Compiler

In computing field, a compiler is a program that translates software from its source code into binary code -- so the program is ready for the users. GNU C Compiler (GCC) is the most famous free compiler and all (or at least most of) GNU/Linux operating systems are produced with it. GCC is a part of GNU OS. It is licensed under GPL. 


KDE Plasma 5 is under GNU GPL. It is the user interface of Kubuntu operating system, as well as many other OSes.   



GNOME is under GNU GPL too. It is the official user interface of GNU Operating System, and its distributions like Ubuntu, as well as RHEL. The name GNOME was an abbreviation of GNU Network Object Model Environment.


In computing field, a software development kit (SDK) is a collection of everything that helps user to create software. Qt is a world class SDK, that is, the material that built Kubuntu, KDE Plasma, and also Telegram aside from so many other great software. Qt is licensed under GNU GPL.



OpenJDK is a choice of Java libraries with free license that can be used to develop Java applications by software developers. It is the library that is used usually with Netbeans or Eclipse IDE. It is licensed under GPL.


It is a GPLv3+ instant messaging and full featured communication app that is fast and cross platform. Telegram is developed with Qt, the same material that built KDE and Kubuntu.



GNU R is the world class statistics software and tools suite, part of GNU operating system. It is popular among scientists and academics people aside from having large user base, a CRAN, and an annual international conference.


Blender is a 3D modeler and animator, the world most successful free software on desktop. It had been used to produce 3D movies like Sintel and Tears of Steel as well as to draw real architectures (CAD). It is licensed under GPL.

Gimp, Inkscape and Scribus

GNU Image Manipulation Program (Gimp) is the GNU's Photoshop, the professional image editing program of free software. Inkscape (formerly Sodipodi) is illustrator and vector drawing program. It features RGB colors, international standard SVG and can read CorelDRAW's as well as AI's document formats. Scribus is a desktop publishing, page layout design program. The three of them are all GPL licensed and cross platform.



The infamous, orange colored audio video player that everyone use is also under GPL. It is an exemplary software for being cross platform -- it runs on all major OS including Android and iOS as well --  and truly popular too -- it counts 29 million downloads at the time this article being written.

Krita and MyPaint

Krita, the professional 2D digital painting and animation program and it is originally part of KDE. MyPaint is a free style 2D digital painting program. They are licensed under GPL. 

GEDA, KiCAD and LibrePCB

GPL Electronics Design Automation (GEDA) is an electronics suite licensed under GNU GPL just as its name suggests. KiCAD is a user friendly, professional 2D and 3D electronics design tool. LibrePCB is a new, user friendly, KiCAD-like electronics design tool. They are licensed under GNU GPL.


Super Tux Kart

Just like penguin is often a symbol of GNU/Linux system, Super Tux Kart is the symbol of gaming on libre software community. It is a fun 3D racing game with characters representing our Libre Software like Gnu (GNU), Tux (Linux), Puffy (OpenBSD), and the others.


The world infamous website software. If you know service, it runs with WordPress software inside. With it, one and an organization may create their own website quickly, beautifully, and with full customization. WordPress is licensed under GNU GPL, but not only that, as all thousands Plugins and Themes distributed are licensed under GNU GPL too.


How To Install

For the applications mentioned above, you can install them on Ubuntu by pressing Enter after typing this command line accordingly.

$ sudo apt-get install gcc

For other application, change gcc into one of these instead:

  • OpenJDK: default-jdk
  • GNU R: r-base 
  • Blender: blender
  • GIMP: gimp
  • Inkscape: inskcape
  • Scribus: scribus
  • Super Tux Kart: supertuxkart
  • VLC: vlc
  • Krita: krita
  • MyPaint: mypaint
  • GEDA: geda
  • KiCAD: kicad

Follow these tutorials to install Telegram, LibrePCB, and WordPress.

For either GNOME or KDE, we suggest you to not install either one on top of existing OS, but you better use Ubuntu if you want GNOME, use Kubuntu if you want KDE.


That's all. Actually, there are too many other software not mentioned above deliberately to invite everyone to seek more themselves or not deliberately because I didn't know of them yet. All in all, I hope this list encourages everyone and all to love Libre Software and distribute them more to the others. Let's share once again!

About GNU General Public License

GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) is a computer software license published by The GNU Project (the team that develops GNU OS) that can be used used by any software developer for their own programs to be free. Learn more about free software (often called libre software as well) here. The special characteristics of GPL is called copyleft, a concept to fight copyright with copyright, that means a software with GNU GPL license will always GNU GPL forever when it distributed to the people, in both ways changed or unchanged, and will never changed to any other license forever. Today, there are three versions of GPL namely version 1, version 2, and version 3. Ubuntu consists of and does distribute many software licensed under GNU GPL.



This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.