Top 5 Linux Apps That’ll Boost Your Productivity

These are not in any specific order. Also, some might be available on other operating systems.


This is the best note taking app I’ve ever used. It sits in your taskbar, doesn’t annoy you and doesn’t hog your cpu cycles or memory. When you wanna jot down something, hit a global shortcut, type away, and then close. Notes are saved as you type, and it automatically links notes together if you use CamelCase words. It’s written in C#, and still pretty young, but I’ve never had a problem with it in regard to stability or compatibility.

If your distro’s repository doesn’t have a package for the latest version (0.12.0, I highly recommend downloading a newer binary and/or install from trunk/)

Official site:

Tilda and friends

You know those slide-down consoles in FPS games like Quake, UT, Half-Life, that you invoke by hitting tilde (~), and use to enter your leet r_picmip hacks? Tilda is a Quake style drop-down terminal that gives you the same quick access to your Linux console on any workspace. No more opening a new terminal window for every little task.

Official site:

Tilda isn’t the only app of its kind. It’s not even the first. Check out the alternatives as well:
sjterm (“works well with Compiz”): (alt page)
Yet Another Kuake (Yakuake, for KDE):
Visor (OS X):


RescueTime is a little program you download (Mac, Windows, Linux) that sits in the background and checks what windows/apps have focus, and uses this data to compile statistics about your computer habits and productivity. It creates neat graphs and shows how productive you are compared to others within a certain time frame.

The commercial versions have some great team features but the free one is enough to track your own productivity. If you’re paranoid, run it through a proxy or chew some Alprazolam or Zyprexa. It’s worth it.

An app sorta like this was an idea I had but never implemented. It was one of those wake up in the middle of the night with an epiphany, scramble to find a pen and paper to jot it down before it’s gone forever idea, that you then wake up and either find silly or just toss in the idea bin never to be thought of again. The idea stemmed from wanting to create a chart of how I spend my time and compare myself week by week. My proposed implementation was a lot simpler though. I was thinking about having it only track apps that you specify.

This differs from RT which has a gigantic db of categorized apps and lets you choose categories to tag as productive or not (i.e., rhythmbox and mplayer would go under audio/video) I like RT’s implementation.

Official Site:
Unofficial Linux client (works great):


Screen is something you find on everybody’s list of Top/Fav Linux apps. If you use the console a lot, especially remotely, screen is a must have.

It keeps a persistent console session open, and lets you attach and detach from it anytime you want, which is great if you get disconnected while working over a network, or when you want to continue what you’re doing at home from work or while on the road. It also has neat features like split screen, tabbed consoles, etc.

When you first run it, you might not notice anything different, but you’re actually in a screen session. Press CTRL+a, followed by ‘?‘ to see a list of shortcuts. Tilda + screen = hacks.

Note: The CTRL+a keystroke is part of many of screen’s shortcuts. Unfortunately, it’s a shortcut in Bash that I frequently use (lets you jump to the beginning of the line), so this is annoying to me. There are ways around this but I’ve just gotten used to the workaround. To jump to the beginning of the line in screen, press CTRL+a, a

Official site:

You might have it installed. If not:

sudo apt-get install screen

Also check out screenie, a wrapper for screen:

sudo apt-get install screenie

Google Calendar Prism

Digital calendars are either too lean (lack features), or are too bloated to keep open. I don’t need the email features that come with some of them, and hate the fact that they’re written in Java.

I tried a number of apps before trying web apps, and now use Google Calendar. It’s secure, fast and you can see your life anywhere. One nice feature is being able to add to or edit the calendar from your PDA or using text messages. I was initially weary of putting my calendar online, but the benefits outweigh the cons (paranoia).

Going back to desktop apps. The only decent one I’ve tried was Rainlendar, but it’s broken on Linux and it’s closed source. Besides, I only liked it because it was simple but synced with Google Cal. At the time, the only alternative I considered was keeping a tab open with Google Calendar, which I wasn’t going to do because Firefox needs to be xkill’d every few days. Then it hit me; Mozilla Prism!

Prism is (basically) a stripped down web browser that is meant to help integrate web apps onto your desktop. prism-google-calendar is a packaged Mozilla Prism setup with Google Calendar out of the box.

It runs independent of your browser and can be treated as a webApp. And since it has its own memory space, it doesn’t go sluggish with Firefox and never needs to be restarted.

I keep it open fullscreen on my second monitor, and can glance at it anytime I feel lost in life.

The only thing missing is a decent alarm feature. Javascript alert()s are shit, and I don’t want annoying emails about my events. I suppose there are hacks around the problem but I learned to glance at the calendar often and don’t need reminders so much anymore.

sudo apt-get install prism-google-calendar

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