Open Source Musings

desktop

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

While I'm a big fan of plain text, I'm also a big fan of both privacy and of taking control of as much of my data as I can. Plain text is great for doing that.

If you find yourself using a platform or a tool that winds up not respecting your privacy, lain text enables you can easily move your information elsewhere. All without having to worry about fiddly conversions.

That's especially true when it comes to taking notes. You might be familiar with Evernote and Google Keep. I've used them in the past, but my trust in the companies behind both was eroded several years ago. Which is one of the reasons why I turned to Standard Notes.

What if you want even more control? You can turn to Joplin. It's billed as An open source note taking and to-do application with synchronisation capabilities, and it does a very good job of all that.

Let's take a look at how to use Joplin to organize your information.

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(Note: This article was originally published at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.)

When you think of the word wiki, examples like MediaWiki or DokuWiki probably come to mind. They're open source, useful, powerful, and flexible. They can be great tools for collaborating, working on your own, or just organizing the piles of information in your life.

On the other hand, those wikis are also big. They need quite a bit of additional digital plumbing to run. For many of us, this is overkill, especially if we only want to use wikis on our desktops.

If you want to get that wiki feeling on your desktop without dealing with all of that plumbing, you easily can. There are a number of solid lightweight wikis that can help you organize your information, keep track of your task, manage your notes, and more.

Let's take a look at three lightweight, desktop wikis.

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In my work on The Plain Text Project and for Opensource.com, I've looked at ... well, a lot of text editors over the years. And when readers didn't see their favourite editor in an article, they suggested I include it.

Besides the usual suspects, one editor that kept popping up was Geany. While I haven't written a lot about Geany, I'm not unfamiliar with it. Despite being aimed at developers, Geany was for years the editor I used when working on LaTeX documents.

Since it's been quite some time since I've used it, so I recently decided to give Geany another look. Let's jump in.

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If you've been around the web for a while, you might recall the First Browser War. It was a digital arms race between Netscape and Microsoft to cram as many features into their web browsers as they could. And they did. The result of that war was buggy, bloated, ungainly software. I don't miss those days ...

Things aren't quite that bad in the web browser world today. But as this article points out, modern browsers still try to do too much. They try to be too much. Even though I use Firefox, I'm always on the lookout for a good minimal, open source web browser. And like the writer of that article, I've used, written about, and liked one called Min. But I also try to keep my options open.

Recently, I was reacquainted with Web, the browser that comes with the GNOME desktop. I remember Web when it was called Epiphany. Back then, it was a lightweight browser with more than a little promise. In those days, it wasn't quite where I thought it should be, though. Several years on, I decided to take another look at Web. Here's what I found.

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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 licence.)

I've had a soft spot for Elementary OS since I first encountered it in 2013. A lot of that has to do with the distribution being very clean and simple.

Since 2013, I've recommended Elementary to people who I've helped transition to Linux from other operating systems. Some have stuck with it. Some who moved on to other Linux distributions told me that Elementary helped smooth the transition and gave them more confidence using Linux.

Like the distribution itself, many applications created specifically for Elementary OS are simple, clean, and useful. They can help boost your day-to-day productivity, too.

Let's take a look at five of those apps.

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Over the years, I've read a lot about how Linux on the desktop is dead or dying. About how Linux hasn't been gaining any traction on computers used ... well, used everywhere and by everyone. I've even heard more than a few people muse whether or not Linux is ready for the desktop.

To be honest, I don't care about all those gloom and doom prognostications.

Why?

As I've been saying for a long time, Linux is ready for my desktop. It has been since the turn of the century. Using Linux and various pieces of free and open source software, I can do everything that I want and need to do on a computer. Write and publish? Definitely. Work with graphics? No problem. Play music and video? As long as there's no DRM, all is better than good. Use the web? Obviously ...

And, no, I only have to use the command line if I want to. I do every so often, but that's another story.

For me, Linux just works. More to the point, it lets me work. It's that simple. The experiences of others, the utterances of journalists and pundits, and the disbelief of people around me using Windows and Apple products don't matter to me. What matters are my experiences and how Linux works for me.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #desktop #opinion

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

Unless your a coder, a system administrator, or a DevOps person, that editor doesn't need to be bristling with functions and functions. A lightweight text editor is more than enough for most people.

Choices abound. You can use the editor that's baked into your Linux distribution or you can go with one of these lightweight text editors.

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

Just about everyone I know takes notes, and many people use an online note-taking application like Evernote or Google Keep. Those are all good tools, but you have to wonder about the security and privacy of your information — especially in light of Evernote's great privacy flip-flop of 2016. If you want more control over your notes and your data, you really need to turn to an open source tool.

Whatever your reasons for moving away from one of the popular web-based note-taking applications, there are plain text alternatives out there. Let's look at one of those alternatives: Turtl.

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Back in the days when I used Windows, one of the applications that I relied on was Paint Shop Pro. It wasn't just a powerful image editor. It also had a built-in screen capture function. Professionally, that was very useful.

Of course, Paint Shop Pro isn't available for Linux. And, anyway, I think Corel (the company that sells it) has really bloated Paint Shop Pro in an attempt to turn it into a rival to Photoshop.

I regularly use one of a handful of screen capture utilities on the Linux desktop. Every so often, I find myself pulling those images into The GIMP to edit them. But since The GIMP has its own screen capture function, I can cut out the middle man whenever I need to.

To take a screenshot, fire up The GIMP. From the File menu, choose Create and then click Screenshot to open the Screenshot dialog.

Getting ready to take a screenshot with The GIMP

You can choose to take a screenshot of:

  • A single window
  • The entire screen
  • A region on the screen or on a window

You can also set a delay (in seconds) before grabbing the screen. When you're ready, click the Snap button. If you chose to:

  • Take a screenshot of a single window, click on that window
  • Grab a region of a screen or window, click and drag to select the region

After a moment, the screenshot appears in The GIMP.

Editing a screenshot taken with The GIMP

From there, you can manipulate the image as you need and then export it to a file. Easy, no?

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #desktop #apps

Since I first encountered it in 2013, I've had a soft spot for Elementary OS. I like Elementary because it's simple.

It's not a Linux distribution for the techie. Elementary is for the ordinary person, the person who just wants to get some work done. It's not for someone who likes to finely tweak their desktop or who edits configuration files within a centimetre or two of their lives.

No. Elementary is simple. It's concise. It's easy to learn and use. As someone I know pointed out, Elementary OS carries forward the promise Ubuntu made, then abandoned, about being the Linux distribution for everyone.

It's been a while since I last used Elementary, so I figured it was time give it another look. Ready? Here we go.

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