I am trying to migrate from Mac OS X to a Linux distribution, maybe/probably Ubuntu. One of my favorite applications for the Mac was Apple Keynote, which makes amazing sideshow presentations.

Is there an equivalent solution for Linux distributions that matches/comes close to Keynote in terms of its polish and ease of use? I know about OpenOffice.org Impress but, no pun intended, I am not very Impress-ed...

  • 12
    Keynote is arguably the best application of its kind. You're going to have to accept some loss of functionality by moving away from OS X. I'm curious about why you're doing that anyway. In the past few years, I'd say the trend on the desktop is decidedly the other way: Linux people finding that OS X finally delivers on the "Linux on the Desktop" promise. Real Unix underneath, and a sweet Apple frosting on top. What's not to like? Sep 1, 2010 at 21:22
  • 31
    @Warren Young: for some of us, the fact that it is not open, matters. It does for me. The fact that it is a Unix, it has a shell, and all that, it means nothing to me without openness. In terms of vendor lock-in Apple is probably worse than Microsoft these days. So what's not to like: that is.
    – wzzrd
    Sep 2, 2010 at 13:38
  • 8
    @Warren Young: Mac OSX is very nice, I agree, but it has a thick graphics and UI layer on top that doesn't play well with more traditional Unix graphics and UI. This means that programs that will run reasonably well on any normal Unix will look out of place on the Mac, and may have other problems. Ports of traditional programs are often out of date. Fundamentally, there are things Mac OSX does better, and things Linux does better. Take your pick. I work mostly on Linux, myself, but also like my Mac. Sep 2, 2010 at 16:23
  • 5
    @wzzrd Agreed. One of the reasons I am preparing to migrate to GNU/Linux is because of its openness, and that it is free. I am getting tired of Apple's attempts to lock me in, despite their products' ease of use and extreme polish (which I do appreciate, that's why I used it in the past).
    – hpy
    Sep 2, 2010 at 21:41
  • 3
    @Warren Young Apple is a golden cage of operating system. Once you entirely buy into it it is great, but it is closed and resticted if you want to break out of the beaten path. I quit using apples after a decade and even though there is no full replacements for things like Keynote, I don't want to go back.
    – Max N
    Feb 5, 2016 at 22:38

12 Answers 12


If you are willing to go outside your comfort zone, LaTeX Beamer is really the only thing I have found that can match Keynote's output for Linux.

Ease of use is a problem with LaTeX though, look at LyX for a nice editor, and some examples.

  • 6
    I'm not +1'ing just because I don't think that LaTeX is really a solution for someone who specifically mentioned 'ease of use.' But LaTeX is well worth learning and the Beamer class is the only thing I have found produces presentations that are as good (and usually better) than keynote or powerpoint.
    – Steven D
    Sep 4, 2010 at 6:59
  • 1
    Ease of use is important to me, because I want to focus on the output, not the technicalities of putting slides together. But if Beamer really produces great slides, that might be worth the learning curve. Will check it out, thanks!
    – hpy
    Sep 9, 2010 at 18:44
  • 2
    Would like to second the choice of Beamer, and recommend the use of the Impressive (impressive.sourceforge.net) as a tool to presenting the presentation.
    – 01es
    Aug 11, 2012 at 14:41
  • I'm using beamer on OS X :-)
    – owo
    Mar 2, 2014 at 21:24

I can contribute describing the differences between Keynote, Impress and LaTeX Beamer. Previous answers only seem to have second hand knowledge of what Keynote can. What makes Apple Keynote "so cool" are the smart guides which let you align stuff with great efficiency and speed. It also handles all kind of media files and is still extremely fast at it.

What's key for a presentation software is to have very little lag when presenting slides. If the user presses "next slide", but the software is struggling to render the frame prompting the user to question if the "next slide" command was registered, maybe triggering it again, which then makes the software skip two slides ahead... these kind of situations can confuse and frustrate a presenter enormously and Apple Keynote has covered this element in perfection. No matter how large the graphics or media is, the next slide will always load instantaneous.

In OpenOffice/LibreOffice you need much more clicks and sub-menus to align graphics or text. Once you have added images which have a slightly higher resolution it becomes unusable and slow to the point that you just hate to work with it because you are spending time on waiting for it to save the document. Trying to embed video files is even worse. A document with > 10 high-res images in it will be so slow that you can't do a presentation with it.

The LaTeX Beamer class templates look terribly scientific and are not usable for presentations outside academia and research just because of their graphic design (some notable exceptions exist, for instance hsrmbeamertheme has a refreshing look). Sure you could make your own styles, but typically presentations are done with very little time, and you just want to throw some things in, not modify styles just to see how it looks when you have three pictures on one slide instead of one. This is where Keynote shines. Efficiency, ease of use and speed.

You can use the Free software Scribus to create your presentations as PDF documents (Scribus now even has smart guides). For the presentation itself I employ the pdf-presenter-console package (unmaintained, but in the repositories, updated version: pdfpc, for a nice feature set but sadly abandoned check open-pdf-presenter). You might also want to look at Impressive for on the fly highlighting and transition effects (but no presenter screen support). PDF presentations generally don't allow videos though, which can be a huge drawback compared to Keynote.

If you are working with video or audio files, be prepared that you will have to jump through a few hoops on Linux. No program will allow you to set in- and outpoint, set autoplay on or off and adjust the volume level for each media item. Open/LibreOffice will just choke and become entirely unusable. Inkscape never the less can be one way to make a multimedia presentation. You can use it to create presentations either with the JessyInk extension (which comes pre-installed with Inkscape), or with Sozi, a program that lets you create Prezi-style presentations (zooming and panning on one big canvas) from a SVG document. Both are solid, you can embed media (audio, video, links) as well as mouse roll-overs and so forth. Presentations happen in a browser (full screen mode, no presenter screen). The types of media files and codecs you can play back depend on the browser you use.

Another option is to use browser based presentation frameworks like reveal.js. It handles media and even offers a presenter screen.

If you don't mind a proprietary solution you can use WPS Office (previously known as Kingsoft Office). Here you can put videos on the slides and it shows a controller for the media on rollover. You can also trim media files, but not set a custom audio gain per media file like in Keynote.

OpenOfficeLaTeX Beamer Scribus Inkscapereveal.js
PresenterScr.Yes depends* depends*No Yes
Audio/video Yes depends* No Yes Yes
Animations Yes depends/some*dpns/sm*Yes Yes
Subjective qualities:
Ease of use Okay inflexible Good Good Okay
Performance Unusable Good Good Okay Good

* Depends on capabilities of PDF viewing/presenting application and is platform specific.

Update 2019: OpenOffice and now LibreOffice have become much better and performant even with large media since 2013. However embedding Video is still not en par with Keynote.

Update 2021: Sadly still no real contender to Keynote for Linux users.

Update 2023: LibreOffice has become much better, and I've used WPS-Office Presentation on Linux and this is actually usable.

  • Why do you rate Beamer's "Ease of Use" as "Inflexible"? Full disclosure: I'm a LaTeX user, though not particularly a Beamer user. Apr 26, 2016 at 15:23
  • Because there is no graphical layout editor which let's you place objects and move them around until it pleases your eye. LaTeX is the opposite, it restraints the user so the user adheres to the style which is predetermined. LaTeX is inflexible in the sense that it you need to edit the style itself just to see how a variation of it would look like. Quoe: " LaTeX reduces the user’s productivity and results in more orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors, more typos, and less written text" journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/…
    – Max N
    May 2, 2016 at 6:53
  • Yes, I've seen that article, but didn't agree with it. Thanks for the response. May 2, 2016 at 8:52
  • 1
    I used Powerpoint for about 2 years, OpenOffice for the next 8 years, Keynote for the last 11 years, and LaTeX/Beamer for 17 years (use it rarely). What many OpenOffice users don't get is that anything tries to copy Powerpoint is not going to match the speed of making decks in Keynote. I teach physics, and making lecture slides on Keynote (killer combination with LaTeXIt) takes less than half the time than it does on LibreOffice. I want to move back to Linux (switched to OSX 12 years ago because of Keynote), but am stuck on Mac OSX just because of Keynote. There is simply nothing like it. Aug 31, 2019 at 20:11

One option that rarely gets mentioned is a little program called Ipe, which can be useful especially if you presentations are heavy in graphics.

Ipe is essentially a vector drawing program that can export pdf and has support for pages and layers, which makes it suitable for designing presentation. It uses LaTeX for text, so you need to learn at least some basic latex, but all positioning and drawing is done interactively in a GUI way. It is also scriptable in lua.


Have you considered the iCloud based Keynote offering. Obviously not a REPLACEMENT, or OPEN, but it will give you some of that Apple polish on Linux.


Yes, there is OpenOffice.org Impress, LibreOffice Impress (which are pretty much the same thing) and there is KPresenter as a part of KOffice.org suite mainly for KDE although it works in GNOME. I would recommend you using a online based presentation editor which I find to be extremely easy and very similar to Keynote. It's called SlideRocket, it's free and requires only a Google account. And since it's web based, you can use it on any platform such as Windows, any Linux distro and Mac OS X.

  • 1
    "On July 1, 2018, the SlideRocket service was permanently discontinued and is no longer accessible". The link now redirects to ClearSlide which is offering only a free demo. This is what you get when relying on free online services, many are just a honey-pot for a future monetization of trapped users.
    – Max N
    Dec 31, 2020 at 10:37

You can try the browser based ones and this in my opinion, stands out: Prezi

And ofcourse you have the online MS Office which has Powerpoint in it.

  • I've seen so many Prezi presentations fail - because of slow/lacking internet connection, not the right fonts installed on the system of presentation, etc. I would not recommend prezi to anyone.
    – Max N
    Mar 4, 2016 at 6:34
  • Also Pretzi needs Flash which soon will be EOL. Good luck archiving old Prezi presentations.
    – Max N
    Aug 24, 2017 at 11:35

If you are looking for a ``classical'' GUI based slides making tool. Aside of Libre Office(or Open Office), there is a new option coming in recent years, i.e., WPS Office, by Kingsoft. Essentially it both looks and works like MS Office. So most people won't have much problem transiting. But since you are a Keynote user, I am not totally sure how you like the look of it. What I am sure of, is it's functionality and performance. It's quite impressive. http://www.wps.com/linux/

Also, if you are familiar with LUI and programming(at least having sufficient experiences with LaTeX), Beamer from Latex could be sufficient in many cases. Beamer is contained in texlive, and available from repos of almost all distros. So don't worry whether you can't install it easily.

But if you want to make some flashy stuff, like @yesouser mentioned, you can try out Prezi. Essentially it transform a presentation into a seamless animation of zooming in/out, sliding and other stuff. http://prezi.com/


Here's what I found at OSALT

They're (Impress and KPresenter) probably pretty comparable. I haven't used KPresenter but it's worth a look.

  • 2
    if you have not actually used kpresenter, you are not qualified to say something like "probably pretty comparable." also, it is not.
    – user601
    Sep 1, 2010 at 21:20
  • Fair enough, just trying to provide a list of alternatives.
    – vanillaike
    Sep 1, 2010 at 21:51

I will include two options that have not been mentioned:

  1. You can use pandoc to write in markdown and render through LaTeX Beamer or reveal.js.

  2. For minimalist presentations try sent, the only relevant feature that tool lacks in my opinion is a way to render a pdf. One solution is to write a script that takes screenshots with xdotool then gather the images into a pdf with ghostscript.

Personally I end up falling back to Beamer, since it provides everything I need, but the learning curve can be steep if you want detailed control.


I just asked an Apple-minded buddy of mine what makes Keynote so cool, and he basically said that Keynote has a nifty screen while presenting, showing your notes and stuff. He couldn't name one unique feature that made Keynote cool apart from that. And as it happens, OpenOffice.org has the exact same thing. Sure the interface will be a bit different, but - as I understand it - there is nothing you can do with Keynote that you cannot do with Impress.

  • 2
    Keynote produces incredibly high quality output. OO.o Impress is ok, but not even close to the level of polish the Keynote brings. Think of it as comparing an awesome typesetting solution like LaTeX to OO.o writer or MS Word. Sep 6, 2010 at 1:33
  • If you have never used OpenOffice presenter, like your Apple minded buddy, then you have no idea how clunky, slow and complicated a presentation software can be, hence the answer.
    – Max N
    Jan 21, 2016 at 14:25

Keynote is NOT the best presentation software, although it is certainly 10 times better than PowerPoint. There is another reigning king called SCALA InfoChannel that's always been ahead and never behind. The only problem is that sometime in the late 1990s they stopped publicly competing with Powerpoint although they were never that publicly open in the first place. But they have always been the best and easiest, but they have changed their focus to Digital Signage but the software still does what Keynote does and then some! It only runs on Windows, although it originated on the only "Proper Computer" I have ever used, the Amiga! Even on an old Amiga, SCALA InfoChannel (Last updated in 1994) can do things Keynote and Powerpoint cannot. Anyhow what I do is run Linux Mint 9 or 10 or Ubuntu 10.04 and then run Virtuabox with Windows XP Pro SP2, and install SCALA Infochannel Designer and output the presentations to another Monitor (sometimes you have to run Windows on that other monitor and SCALA within it as Virtualbox, ain't that great to give Windows a second monitor in emulation and voilà! Superb presentations! I am running SCALA Infochannel that was made for Pentium IIIs so it's a little old, but runs great. I did this to ensure that it works and because the interface still looks like the original one I used on the Amiga but the Amiga version was slightly better. Ubuntu is really getting darn good and I am glad I can use Windows as just a dongle for running SCALA.

  • 1
    SCALA is a digital signage solution, I'm not sure if it even compares to presentation software at all.
    – Max N
    May 22, 2015 at 16:16

Checkout https://wiki.gnome.org/Ease , (last change in the code was 2010!)

"Present with Ease!

Ease is a modern desktop presentation application for GNOME, with Clutter-based visuals.

With a simple design, Ease is painless to use. It is intended to integrate well > into your current GNOME-based desktop."

  • 1
    Is it still being actively developed?
    – hpy
    Oct 3, 2011 at 6:40

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