Open Source Musings

desktop

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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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 The Plain Text Project and appears here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.)

Back in the early and mid-1990s, there was a boom in dedicated HTML editors. Those were a mix of code editor and WYSIWYG tools, which were designed to get more and more people publishing in the then-burgeonening World Wide Web. As the years passed, so did most of those editors.

Over the last while, something similar has been happening with dedicated Markdown editors. Not to the extent of their HTML-only predecessors from a few decades back, but there are more than a handful on the market.

Those editors range from being just glorified text editors to some which are quite good. One dedicated Markdown editor that I've been exercising a lot is Mark Text. It reminds me of an open source version of Typora. While not quite as polished as Typora, Mark Text is quite a flexible editor.

Let's take a look at it.

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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.)

I don't do Windows. The operating system, I mean. At least, not on my own computers and not with any of my own work.

When I was a consultant, I often had to work out of my clients' offices, which meant using their hardware, which also meant using Windows at many of those offices.

Even when using Windows, I tried to install as much open source software as I could. Why? Because it works as well as (if not better than) its proprietary equivalents. One of the applications I always installed was Notepad++, which I looked at for The Plain Text Project.

To be honest, I've wanted a version of Notepad++ for Linux for a while now. Someone made my wish come true in the shape of Notepadqq. Although it's billed as “a text editor for developers,” it's not a bad tool for writers or anyone else, either.

Let's take a look at it.

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Despite all the grand talk of us being in the digital age and of the paperless whatever, many of us still receive and handle more paper than we care to. While most of that can be recycled or shredded, we might need to keep a few of those documents for posterity.

No one wants to deal with drawers full of paper. So why not archive all of your important documents? If you have a scanner or a multi-function printer, and are running the GNOME desktop, then using Document Scanner (which was known for the longest time as Simple Scan) is a quick, easy, and efficient way to do that job.

Let's take a look at it.

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When it comes to editing images and photos on the Linux desktop, the first application that comes to mind is The GIMP. And with good reason: The GIMP is big, powerful, and flexible.

It's also a bit much if you only need to do some basic image editing. Not everyone is a professional photographer or designer. Most of use only need to do basic tasks like cropping, resizing, minor retouching, and the like.

A good option for that is Pinta. To paraphrase Jack Tramiel, Pinta is image editing software for masses, not classes. It's reminiscent of Windows Paint, but with a few more features. Features that you might actually use.

Let's take a quick look at how to do some basic image editing with Pinta.

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I've never been one for desktop RSS readers. I'm not sure why, but I've never found one that I really enjoyed using. Instead, I've been happy to lean on web-based readers and to use Newsboat at the command line.

Recently, however, I was looking at what's new in the elementary OS AppCenter and stumbled across Communique. It's a relatively new desktop RSS reader, based on one called Feed Reader, that I thought looked interesting. So, I installed it and gave it a test drive.

Let's take a quick look at Communique, shall we?

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

In the early days of the web, a hundred browsers bloomed. Well, figuratively at least. Back then, there were more than a few of web browsers, but eventually that number was whittled down. Today, we're left with the Big Three and a (very) small handful of other web browsers.

Does the world need another web browser? I'm not the one to decide that. But some people think there is room for alternatives to Firefox, Chrome, and that other browser.

One of those alternatives is Min. As its name suggests (suggests to me, anyway), Min is a minimalist browser. That doesn't mean it's deficient in any significant way. Being open source, under an Apache 2.0 license, of course piques my interest in Min.

Let's take a look at Min and see what it can do.

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While Apostrophe is my Markdown editor of choice at the moment, others occasionally catch my eye. It's not that I'm constantly looking for a new Markdown editor, but part of me likes to know what's out there.

Recently, I stumbled across an editor called Ghostwriter. Well, stumbled across isn't quite the way to describe this discovery. I've used Ghostwriter in the past, and was impressed by its combination of a minimal design and a decent feature set. So I thought it was time to revisit Ghostwriter.

Let's take a look at it.

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

Even though I write for a living, I rarely use a word processor these days. I do most of my work in a text editor. When I do need to use a word processor, I turn to LibreOffice Writer. It's familiar, it's powerful, and it does everything that I need a word processor to do.

It's hard to dispute LibreOffice Writer's position at the top of the free and open source word processor food chain — both in popularity and in the number of features it has. That said, Writer isn't everyone's favorite word processor nor is it their go-to application for writing.

While the number of free and open source word processors has dwindled over the years, LibreOffice Writer isn't the only game in town. If you're in the market for an alternative to Writer that's also open source, test drive these three word processors.

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