Open Source Musings

apps

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

Fifteen or so years ago, I split my text editing time between both Emacs and Vim. That said, I was more of an Emacs guy. But while Emacs had an edge in my affections in those days, I knew (and still know) that Vim is no slouch.

So do other people even though who, like me, are all thumbs technically. Over the years, I've talked to a few new Linux users who wanted to use Vim but were a bit disappointed that it doesn't act like the text editors they've used on those other operating systems.

That disappointment changed to satisfaction when I introduced them to Cream, an add-on for Vim that makes it easier to use. Cream turned each of them into a regular Vim user. And, thanks to Cream, most of them still are to this day.

In a post that's bound to trigger a couple or three hard-nosed Vim purists, I'm taking you on a short tour of Cream and how it makes Vim easier to use.

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Despite what the why not just use Emacs/vim/VSCodium/whatever brigade may think and say, not everyone needs a powerful text editor packed with every feature. Including a sink and a death ray.

Some folks just need something simple, something basic with which to edit text. You can do that on the GNOME desktop using Text Edit, which is a stripped down version of the venerable GNOME editor Gedit.

While Text Editor has been around for a few years, I haven't used a GNOME-based text editor in that time so it's kind of new to me. To be honest, I liked using Gedit, so I was surprised when found this application in the elementary OS AppCenter. Just to take it for a spin, to see how well it works. Here's what I learned.

Note: I'm approaching Text Editor from the perspective of someone who writes, not as coder. I'm not in a position to judge how well or badly it works for development tasks. You have been warned.

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A calendar is more than just something that you use to mark off the days until the weekend. It's also a powerful tool for keeping organized and keeping track of your appointments and more. One of the apps built into Nextcloud is a calendar.

Nextcloud Calendar is easy to set up and use. It packs just enough features for most people. And, if your needs are fairly simple, it's a great alternative to the popular web-based calendar tools out there.

Let's take a closer look at Nextcloud Calendar.

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A good utility is worth it's weight in ... well, whatever you use to weigh something valuable. And while you might not use certain utilities often, when you do I can bet that you're happy those applications are installed on your computer.

Let's take a quick look at three utilities for the Linux desktop that I find quite useful. Who knows, you might find them useful too.

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Ah, the mouse ... It made computing so much easier for so many people. Why memorize a bunch of arcane commands when you can point and click?

There are times, though, when a mouse just gets in your way.

Some people, believe it or not, work better with just their keyboards. Using combinations of keystrokes and navigation keys makes them more efficient and more productive, even in a graphical environment.

One task that lends itself quite well to being keyboard driven is note taking. Let's take a quick look at two note taking applications for the Linux desktop that work better with just a keyboard.

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

Imagine, for a moment, you've been tapped to give a presentation. As you're preparing your talk, you think, I should whip up a few slides. So how are you going to do that, young presenter?

Maybe you prefer the simplicity of plain text, or maybe you think software like LibreOffice Impress is overkill for what you need to do. Or perhaps you just want to embrace your inner geek.

It's easy to turn files formatted with Markdown into attractive presentation slides. Here are four tools that can do help you do the job.

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(Note: This post, in a different form, was first published at The Plain Text Project and appears here via a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.)

Ever have a moment in which an idea or thought or quote or whatever suddenly popped into your head. A moment when you needed to get that idea or quote or whatever down before you forgot? Yeah, me too.

Once upon a time, people did that with pen and paper using something called a scratchpad. Actually, they still do. Using a paper scratchpad works, but why scramble for analog tools when you can go digital? And why use something complex when you can use plain text?

Why a Scratchpad?

You could, as I just mentioned, have a thought or idea. Something that you need to do or someone whom you want to contact. A scratchpad can be an extension of your short-term memory. Use one to put down whatever’s popped into your head before it fades away.

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

One perception that Linux can't seem to shake off is that you can't do anything without using the command line. A number of people in my circle have been using Linux effectively for years, and they've yet to crack open a terminal window.

Having said that, working at the command line can make certain tasks faster and more efficient. If you’re using older hardware, command line tools are an excellent alternative to graphical applications since they don't use too many resources.

One of those tasks playing music. You can do that in a terminal. How? Here’s a look at three command line music players.

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How do people take notes on the Linux desktop? Let us count the ways ...

Actually, let's not. There are just too darned many ways to do that deed.

Into that mix comes Notes-Up, a simple yet flexible app for taking, editing, and organizing notes on the elementary OS desktop. Let's take a closer look at Notes-Up why don't we?

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For the most part, I like my software simple and focused. Software that does one thing, does it well, and with the minimum of frills.

That goes for the music player that I use on the Linux desktop. I only need something that plays music. I don't need equalizers, harmonizers, transmogrifiers, or anything that makes the hearts of so-called audiophiles flutter.

While idly leafing through the elementary OS AppCenter recently, I came across Byte. It's a music player that (gasp!) plays music. It can do one or two other things, too, but at its core Byte is a music player and nothing else.

Let's take a quick look at it.

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