When you moved to Linux, you went straight for the obvious browsers, cloud clients, music players, email clients, and perhaps image editors, right? As a result, you’ve missed several vital, productive tools. Here’s a roundup of five umissable Linux apps that you really need to install.
Synergy is a godsend if you use multiple desktops. It’s an open-source app that allows you to use a single mouse and keyboard across multiple computers, displays, and operating systems. Switching the mouse and keyboard functionality between the desktops is easy. Just move the mouse out the edge of one screen and into another.
When you open Synergy for the first time, it will run you through the setup wizard. The primary desktop is the one whose input devices you’ll be sharing with the other desktops. Configure that as the server. Add the remaining computers as clients.
Synergy maintains a common clipboard across all connected desktops. It also merges the lock screen setup, i.e. you need to bypass the lock screen just once to log in to all the computers together. Under Edit > Settings, you can make a few more tweaks such as adding a password and setting Synergy to launch on startup.
BasKet Note Pads
Using BasKet Note Pads is somewhat like mapping your brain onto a computer. It helps make sense of all the ideas floating around in your head by allowing you to organize them in digestible chunks. You can use BasKet Note Pads for various tasks such as taking notes, creating idea maps and to-do lists, saving links, managing research, and keeping track of project data.
Each main idea or project goes into a section called a basket. To split ideas further, you can have one or more sub-baskets or sibling baskets. The baskets are further broken down into notes, which hold all the bits and pieces of a project. You can group them, tag them, and filter them.
The left pane in the application’s two-pane structure displays a tree-like view of all the baskets you have created.
BasKet Note Pads might seem a little complex on day one, but you’ll get the hang of it soon. When you’re not using it, the app sits in the system tray, ready for quick access.
Want a simpler note-taking alternative on Linux? Try Springseed.
How do you ensure that your computer doesn’t go to sleep right in the middle of an interesting movie? Caffeine is the answer. No, you don’t need to brew a cup of coffee for your computer. You just need to install a lightweight indicator applet called Caffeine. It prevents the screen-saver, lock screen, or the Sleep mode from being activated when the computer is idle, only if the current window is in full-screen mode.
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:caffeine-developers/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install caffeine
On Ubuntu versions 14.10 and 15.04 (and their derivatives), you’ll also need to install certain dependency packages:
$ sudo apt-get install libappindicator3-1 gir1.2-appindicator3-0.1
After finishing the installation, add caffeine-indicator to your list of startup applications to make the indicator appear in the system tray. You can turn Caffeine’s functionality on and off via the app’s context menu, which pops up when you right-click on the tray icon.
Easystroke makes an excellent Linux mouse hack. Use it to set up a series of customized mouse/touchpad/pen gestures to simulate common actions such as keystrokes, commands, and scrolls. Setting up Easystroke gestures is straightforward enough, thanks to the clear instructions that appear at all the right moments when you’re navigating the UI.
Begin by choosing the mouse button you’d like to use for performing gestures. Throw in a modifier if you like. You’ll find this setting under Preferences > Behavior > Gesture Button. Now head to the Actions tab and record strokes for your most commonly used actions.
Using the Preferences and Advanced tabs, you can make other tweaks like setting Easystroke to autostart, adding a system tray icon, and changing scroll speed.
I saved my favorite Linux find for last. Guake is a dropdown command line modeled after the one in the first-person shooter video game Quake. Whether you’re learning about terminal commands or executing them on a regular basis, Guake is a great way to keep the terminal handy. You can bring it up or hide it in a single keystroke.
As you can see in the image below, when in action, Guake appears as an overlay on the current window. Right-click within the terminal to access the Preferences section, from where you can change Guake’s appearance, its scroll action, keyboard shortcuts, and more.
Name Your Favorite Linux Discovery!
There are many more super useful Linux apps waiting to be discovered. Rest assured that we’ll keep introducing you to them.
Which Linux app were you happiest to learn about? Which one do you consider a must-have? Tell us in the comments.