Open Source Musings

Sharing a passion for Linux and open source, with a decidedly non-techie slant

At the end of last year, I decided it was time to get a new laptop — my workhorse Galago from System76 was in a slow, steady decline after many years of use.

Before pulling the trigger, I looked at the offerings from a few vendors, including Laptop with Linux and System76. In the end, I decided to go smaller, opting for a StarLite from Star Labs.

A few days after Christmas, 2021 I placed the order for the StarLite. Due to COVID and supply chain issues, it took almost 6 months for that laptop to reach me. You can be sure that I was a happy boy when the courier handed it over to me on that Tuesday morning in May.

I've been using that StarLite exclusively since mid-May, 2022. Let's take a look at it.

(If you're looking for unboxing video, you're out of luck. I don't indulge in that sort of silliness. That said, the packaging was well done!)

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Here's the latest in an irregular series of short posts that introduce a few Linux terminal tricks.

Where, on your computer, do you go to check a date? Probably the calendar on the toolbar of your desktop or in a calendar app or widget.

That's one way to do it. You can also check dates at the Linux command line. How? Using the cal command. There's nothing extra you need to install or configure, either — cal comes as standard kit with every distribution.

Let's take a quick look at the basics of using the cal command.

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Anyone remember the term desktop publishing (DTP for short)? It first came into the wider lexicon in the 1980s, and referred to the ability to use software on desktop computer to layout, typeset, and print, your own material like flyers, newsletters, books, and like.

It's been years since I've heard term desktop publishing uttered by anyone, but still goes on. Nowadays, though, a lot of that publishing is electronic only — publishing non fiction books, novels and short story collections, reports, and such in formats like PDF and EPUB.

Let's take a quick look at four open source tools that you can use to publish your words and ideas, whether for sale or just for sharing.

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(Note: This post was originally published, in a slightly different form, at The Plain Text Project and appears here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.)

Back in the early and mid-1990s, there was a boom in dedicated HTML editors. Those were a mix of code editor and WYSIWYG tools, which were designed to get more and more people publishing in the then-burgeonening World Wide Web. As the years passed, so did most of those editors.

Over the last while, something similar has been happening with dedicated Markdown editors. Not to the extent of their HTML-only predecessors from a few decades back, but there are more than a handful on the market.

Those editors range from being just glorified text editors to some which are quite good. One dedicated Markdown editor that I've been exercising a lot is Mark Text. It reminds me of an open source version of Typora. While not quite as polished as Typora, Mark Text is quite a flexible editor.

Let's take a look at it.

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(Note: This article was originally published at Opensource.com and appears here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.)

There are great tools on the Linux desktop for taking screen captures, such as KSnapshot and Shutter. Even the simple utility that comes with the GNOME desktop does a pretty good job of capturing screens. But what if you rarely need to take screen captures? Or you use a Linux distribution without a built-in capture tool, or an older computer with limited resources?

Turn to the command line and a little utility called Scrot. It does a fine job of taking simple screen captures, and it includes a few features that might surprise you.

Let's take a peek at it.

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There are more than a few free and open source task management applications out there. They run at the command line, on your desktop, and even on the web. They are, as you might expect, of varying quality, and with a varying number of functions. But there's pretty much a task management tool for just about everyone's needs.

Since early 2020, I've been trying to use Nextcloud as my personal hub. One app I've been experimenting with (again) is Tasks. Which, as the name implies, is Nextcloud's todo list manager.

Let's take a quick look at how to use it.

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(Note: This post was originally published, in a slightly different form, at Opensource.com and appears here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.)

I don't do Windows. The operating system, I mean. At least, not on my own computers and not with any of my own work.

When I was a consultant, I often had to work out of my clients' offices, which meant using their hardware, which also meant using Windows at many of those offices.

Even when using Windows, I tried to install as much open source software as I could. Why? Because it works as well as (if not better than) its proprietary equivalents. One of the applications I always installed was Notepad++, which I looked at for The Plain Text Project.

To be honest, I've wanted a version of Notepad++ for Linux for a while now. Someone made my wish come true in the shape of Notepadqq. Although it's billed as “a text editor for developers,” it's not a bad tool for writers or anyone else, either.

Let's take a look at it.

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