Open Source Musings

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

Something that that Linux desktop isn't lacking is tools for working with plain text. That's especially true for text editors. I should know — I've tried more than a few in my time.

A while back, I was having a spot of bother with an editor called Gedit. That bother had to do with the editor's search function — I don't recall the details, to be honest. To get around that problem, I turned to another editor called FeatherPad.

I found FeatherPad to be a more-than-adequate editor, one with several useful functions. Even though I looked at it briefly in another post, I've been meaning to take a closer look at FeatherPad. So why don't we do that now?

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When it comes to managing your work, sometimes a task list isn't quite enough. Sometimes, you're working on something that's a bit more involved or complex and which requires a tool that's a bit more flexible and can give you an at-a-glance awareness of the status of your tasks.

One popular way to do that is with a kanban board. One of the most widely-used kanban board applications is Trello. But being good citizens of the FLOSS world, I hope you use something more open like WeKan or something similar.

If you use Nextcloud as a personal productivity hub, you can add a kanban board to your instance with an app called Deck. Let's take a look at Deck and how to use it.

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(This post was first published at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.)

We all want our passwords to be safe and secure. To do that, many people turn to password management applications like KeePassXC or Bitwarden.

If you spend a lot of time in a terminal window and are looking for a simpler solution, you'll want to check out one of the many password managers for the Linux command line. They're quick, easy to use, and secure.

Let's take a look at three of them.

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Like many people who live and work in the free and open source software world, I keep hearing that every year is the year of Linux on the desktop. I've been hearing that for longer than I can remember. And each year, Linux doesn't come close to encroaching on the market share or mindshare of Mac OS or Windows.

That doesn't matter. At least not to me. For me, 1999 was the year of Linux on the desktop. My desktop. That was the was year I finally had it with Wind)ows. That was the year I first installed Linux, specifically Caldera OpenLinux, on a Pentium 300 I inherited from my wife. You can read the story about that in my interview with My Linux Rig if you're interested.

Linux worked well for me then, and only got better as the years passed. I've used over a dozen distributions and have test driven many, many more more. Linux has been running on every desktop and laptop computer I've owned since 1999, and I've doing all of my work in Linux since then. Contrary to what some people might say (and have said), I'm not missing anything.

Linux is ready for my desktop. It has been for over 20 years. In fact, Linux is my desktop. Period.

Whether or not Linux becomes mainstream isn't important to me. Linux just works for me. That's all that matters.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #desktop #opinion

When I switched to elementary OS, I resolved to use as many applications written for that Linux distribution as I could. There are quite a few that help me do the work that I need to do.

One of those tasks is outlining, mostly of my writing. I usually use an outline when tackling longer works, but every so often an outliner comes in handy when I need to structure a shorter piece or if something's working out the way it should.

I haven't used a desktop or web-based outliner in a while. Most of my outlining of late has been done in plain text. While I wasn't looking for it, I stumbled across an outliner specifically developed for elementary called (predictably) Outliner. Like many of the applications developed for elementary, Outliner is simple — both in the number of features and to use. But it is quite effective and efficient at what it does.

Let's take a closer look at Outliner.

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It all started with an upgrade.

In October, 2020 version 20.10 of Ubuntu came out. As I usually do, I duly clicked the button to start the process.

That upgrade seemed to go smoothly — everything installed quickly with no conflicts or error messages. I walked away to make a cup of white tea, and when I came back the installation had finished and my laptop rebooted.

It was then that I noticed a problem. A fairly big one. Instead of a login screen, I saw a field of aubergine (the colour, not the vegetable). I thought that my laptop was sleeping, so I pressed some keys to try to wake it up. It didn't work. I rebooted, but I was faced with the same problem.

That definitely wasn't a good place to be in.

It would have been easy to freak out, but instead I saw this an opportunity to do something that I had planned to do in early 2021: migrate to elementary OS.

Luckily, I'd done a backup a couple of days previously and my day-to-day work is synced with Nextcloud so I wasn't going to lose anything. On top of that, I had a bootable USB flash drive with elementary on it so I was ready to go.

As a friend wrote in an email:

I'm guessing you experienced one moment of dread (as the screen sat there, blank and aubergine, lifeless), followed by one moment of elation (a blank slate! I can finally do that thing!).

I did feel both. And I embraced that elation.

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(This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.)

Before you start reaching for those implements of mayhem, Emacs and vim fans, understand that this article isn't me putting the boot to your favorite editor. I've used both Emacs and vim. And I like them both. A lot.

That said, I realize that Emacs and vim aren't for everyone. It might be that the silliness of the so-called Editor War has turned some people off. Or maybe they just want an editor that's less demanding and which has a more modern sheen.

If you're looking for an alternative to Emacs or vim, keep reading. I have two that might interest you.

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While writers have the reputation of being solitary figures, tapping away at keyboards in small rooms, we sometimes have to collaborate with other writers. And sometimes we need to collaborate while an idea or document is hot.

Collaborating in real time can be tricky. You just can't email word processor files around and hope to quickly or efficiently work together.

A number of online tools make real-time collaboration easier and cheaper. I know a number of writers who have embraced those tools for working with other writers and with clients. But not every writer uses those tools, and not every writer wants to.

If you're in a situation like that, then you might want to consider an open source alternative: EtherPad.

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