A Trio of Useful Desktop Utilities

25 June, 2024

Here’s another quick look at three useful little tools for the Linux desktop. Tools that can help you quickly and efficiently tackle some simple tasks, especially tasks that you don’t tackle regularly.

Let’s jump in, shall we?


As part of my Day JobTM, I run semi-regular online sessions explaining … well, various things to my colleagues. Having a script or outline nearby is helpful.

But the problem is that since I don’t like printing anything, I have to scroll through me script either on a second screen or on a tablet. That disrupts my flow and focus. My work computer runs one of those Other Operating Systems, but if I could use a Linux-powered laptop, then Teleprompter would be a boon when conducting those sessions.

As its name suggests, Teleprompter is the software equivalent of an auto cue used by news broadcasters, politicians, and others. To use it, you open a text file or or paste the text of your script or speech into Teleprompter. You can change the font and its size, as well as the speed a which Teleprompter scrolls the text.

Teleprompter’s preferences

When you’re ready to go, click the Start button. Here’s a look at Teleprompter in action:

Teleprompter in action


You never know when you’ll need to track the time spent on tasks. Perhaps you’re working on contract and need to submit a detailed timesheet. Or maybe you’re a productivity nerd who wants to gather data so you can better optimize your time.

No matter why you’re tracking time, a simple and fairly unobtrusive way to do that on the Linux desktop is with Punchclock.

To use it, type a description of the task — for example, Editing for Project A — in the Search field. Then, press Enter. The clock starts running, as shown below:

Punchclock doing its thing

You can make Punchclock more compact and less obtrusive by clicking the arrow in the header bar. When you do that, it looks like this:

Punchclock, compressed

Click the pause button in the header bar to put the task on hold.

You can add multiple tasks by typing their names in the Search box and pressing Enter. Here’s an example:

Punchclock with multiple tasks


Radio isn’t dead, no matter what some people say. These days, you’re not stuck with old school over-the-air or digital transmissions requiring an account and a specialized receiver. With an internet radio app installed on your computer, a whole world of radio is open to your ears.

One of those apps for the Linux desktop is Shortwave. It’s a compact and flexible way to listen to radio from around the world. Or closer to home.

When you start Shortwave, a screen with a list of suggested stations displays.

Shortwave at startup

You can select one or more of those suggestions or click the Search icon at the top-right of the header bar to find a station. Here’s me searching for stations on Soma FM:

Searching in Shortwave

Click a station in the list. Then, in the window that pops up, click Add to Library.

Adding a station to your library in Shortwave

To view your library, click the Go Back button in the header.

Radio station library in Shortwave

From there, click a button and listen away!

Scott Nesbitt