Open Source Musings

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

Here's a quick look at another trio of useful little tools for elementary OS that can help you quickly and efficiently tackle some simple tasks.

The utilities I'm about to look at are ones that you might not always use, but which are handy to have around when you need them. You can quickly install them from the elementary AppCenter.

Just so you know, two of these apps are pay what you can. You're not obliged to pay to full amount a developer asks for, or pay anything at all. However, any money that you can pass the developer's way helps support the continued development of those apps.

Hourglass

Who doesn't need a simple alarm or timer every so often? One of the simplest and easy to use app of this kind that I've come across for elementary OS is Hourglass.

You can create alarms and countdown timers, and also run a stopwatch. I've never used the stopwatch, and really don't see myself ever needing it. But the alarm and timer functions are very useful.

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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.)

There are a number of utilities that enable you to view text files when you're at the command line. One of those utilities is more.

more is similar to another tool called less. The main difference between them is that more only allows you to move forward in a file.

While that may seem limiting, it has some features that are worth knowing about. Let's take a quick look at some of what more can do and how to use it.

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You might remember a recent post, in which I discussed my new laptop. It's been a long while since I've written a post like that and, to be honest, I'd forgotten about the kind of reaction a post like that can provoke.

In this case, it was the (almost expected) I don't/can't understand why ..., I'd never use/buy ... comments that a handful of people so graciously sent me via email. Comments pretty much telling me that my choice was the wrong one. That my purchase was the wrong one. That I had better options. Alla that kind of thing.

Those kinds of comments demonstrate a very narrow way of thinking about technology. Those kinds of comments illustrate a very narrow understanding of how people use technology and what they need. Those kinds of comments are filtered through the needs and use cases of those making the comments.

Guess what? Those needs, those use cases aren't mine. They're not universal. Some people seem to find it difficult to believe, but different people use computers in different ways. Different people need and use different software. Different people need and use different devices. They do things differently from you. From me. From my correspondents.

Not everyone who uses a computer, who uses Linux and open source, is an uber techie. Not everyone is developing apps or software. Not everyone is gaming. Not everyone is plugging 17 devices into their laptops or desktops. Not everyone needs fast, powerful computers with massive hard drives, with 256 GB of RAM, with 16 hypercores, packing muscular GPUs, and like. A lot of people need something simple, but something which works. In my case, that's the StarLite.

And if some folks can't understand why anyone would use a computer like a StarLite, the problem doesn't lie with the computer or the person using it ...

Scott Nesbitt

#opinion

Have you heard of TiddlyWiki? It's a portable wiki that you can use on your desktop or put on to a flash drive or mobile device and carry around with you.

TiddlyWiki is essentially a giant HTML file, with a lot of JavaScript and CSS mixed in to enable that file to function as a wiki. But TiddlyWiki is kind of big, too. The starter file weighs in at 2+ MB, and only gets larger as you add to it.

That bulk inspired a web developer named Robbie Antenesse to create a lighter analogue to TiddlyWiki called Feather Wiki. Coming in at just over 63 KB (that's not a typo!), Feather Wiki boasts the basic features of TiddlyWiki while staying fast and lean.

Let's take a look at it.

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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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