Open Source Musings


Nowadays, I manage my todo list in a paper notebook. But when I did use a digital tool for that job, my todo list app of choice was Todo.txt. It's a command line tool that save tasks lists as plain text. And although using Todo.txt means jumping to the terminal, it's not too difficult to use and master.

Over the years, I've tried a few graphical applications that work with Todo.txt. Most were, to be blunt, clunky. I always returned to Todo.txt at the command line.

Recently, though, I came across TxDx. It's a desktop application that implements full compatibility with the Todo.txt syntax. The user interface is clean and modern, but definitely not clunky.

Let's take a look at it.


Here's a quick look at another trio of useful little tools for the Linux desktop 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.

Let's jump in, shall we?


That we need to protect ourselves online is a given. Not just our identities, but also the logins to the various sites and services that we use daily.

In just about all of the advice that you'll read out there, there's always a recommendation to enable [multi-factor authentication]() (also called two-factor authentication) in whatever you use online to an extra layer of security. Multi-factor authentication (MFA for short) might not be an unscalable wall, but it is an obstacle in the way of someone trying to scam, rob, or impersonate you.

While there are more than a few MFA apps for smartphones, those kinds of tools are sometimes ignored or overlooked on the desktop. But not this time!

Let's take a quick look at three MFA applications for the Linux desktop. They're simple, effective, and open source.

Note: If you're interested in learning how MFA works, read this explanation.


Ah, passwords ... I have more than a few of them. And I'm sure that you do, too. And the problem isn't just the sheer number of passwords that we seem to accumulate. It's also organizing and remembering those passwords.

To help us do both, a small cottage industry of password management software has grown into existence. Many of the popular tools in that category reside on the web, including at least one open source option.

But if you don't want to keep some or all of your most important passwords on someone else's computer, there are more than a few solid options for managing your passwords on your (Linux) desktop. Let's take a quick look at three of them.


When I test drove Zorin OS Core in 2022, something that mildly vexed me was that I couldn't change the background of the desktop from an image to a solid colour.

But, as always with Linux, there's a workaround. Like the one I discovered in this post in the Zorin OS forum. Here's what to do:

Crack open a terminal window, copy and paste the command below, and press Enter:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri ""

That removes the wallpaper. To change the desktop background to a more pleasing colour, find a colour picker app (whether online or on the desktop), and get the hex code for the colour you prefer — for example, #3a79bc.

Then, copy and paste this command into a terminal window:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background primary-color 'your-hex-code'

Replace your-hex-code with the code from the colour picker app. Here's an example:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background primary-color '#3a79bc'

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #desktop #cli

Note taking applications like Obsidian, Logseq, Craft and others have become the darlings of the personal knowledge management (PKM for short) crowd. Tools like that have many features and offer opportunities for their users to endlessly twiddle and twern to make those applications more than they are. Or, sometimes, more than they should be.

But not everyone is an adherent of PKM or of pushing tools to their limits. There are folks out there who only need something simple with which to jot down ideas or thoughts, to store that pithy quote or link or recipe. Something that's basic, fast, and which packs few frills.

A note taking tool which fits that bill is V-Notes, a very stripped down app for the GNOME desktop. Let's take a look at it.


Here's a quick look at another trio of useful little tools for the Linux desktop 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.

Let's jump in, shall we?

Text Pieces

Described by its developer as a Swiss knife of text processing, Text Pieces kind of lives up to that billing. Text Pieces does some weird, wonderful, and at times geeky things to plain text.


One of the growing cottage industries in the software world is note taking applications. Over the last few years, they've bloomed like a hundred flowers — on the desktop, on the web, and for mobile devices.

Many of those tools are over engineered, with a large number of moving parts and features that the personal knowledge management crowd has embraced and believe are essential. Many of us, though, don't need anything remotely that complex. We only need something basic, with which we can quickly jot down short (or not so short) thoughts, ideas, and the like.

Enter Iotas, which lies on the minimalist end of the note taking tool spectrum. It's a small, simple, and streamlined application for the GNOME desktop. While the developers state that:

It's fairly early days in development here, so please expect a few rough edges.

Iotas actually isn't too bad a tool at the moment, and it has a couple or three interesting features. Let's take a look at it.


I've never been a distro hopper. Since I first installed Linux on a Pentium 300 desktop in 1999, I've only mainlined perhaps four or five distributions. And always for the longer haul — when a Linux distribution gets plonked on to my hard drive, it usually stays there for years. There's only been one case when that didn't happen, but I don't like to talk about it much.

That said, I have test driven more than a handful of Linux distributions, either via a live CD or live USB, since early 2000s. A few have impressed me. One or two were frustrating. The others left me feeling a bit cold or just ambivalent.

But one distro I hadn't taken a close look at is Zorin OS. It's a distribution that I'd heard about more than once over the years, and usually in glowing terms. Until recently, though, Zorin OS was never strongly enough on my radar for me to give it a go.

In July, 2022 curiosity (for whatever reason) gripped me and I took an extended peek at Zorin OS using a live USB. I liked what I saw, and installed it on my spare laptop. I also decided to use that laptop and Zorin OS as my daily driver for several weeks.

Let's take a look at what happened.