Top Linux Productivity Apps

Monday Aug 18th 2014 by Matt Hartley
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Linux apps for time-tracking, dual monitor, editing, storage syncing and more.

Productivity is essential to anyone's day, no matter who you are or where you work. In this article, I'll be sharing some of my favorite Linux applications that I rely on to keep my productivity levels in check. I'll also share some of my rationale behind me recommending each application and why you might wish to consider it as well.

Linux Productivity: Top Apps

Project Hamster – If there is one thing that Linux enthusiasts seem to have in common, it's the desire to manage their time wisely. In the spirit of better time management, I recommend looking into Project Hamster if you need a solid time tracking application. I myself use this app to help me better manage my daily routine.

For example, I run Project Hamster in the background on my main PC to track how much time I spend on each daily project. Doing this allows me to better calculate how much energy is spent on each task and from there, I can get a better handle on what the rest of my week will likely look like. Think of it as a good tool for time forecasting. Project Hamster is also a handy tool for tracking billable hours.

QuickSynergy – Despite having access to a dual-monitor desktop, I often need to use the same mouse and keyboard on multiple computers. Rather than try to set up a hardware KVM switch, I relied on a tool called Synergy. After becoming familiar with Synergy, I later discovered a useful GUI application for desktops with greater resources called QuickSynergy. Like a KVM switch, QuickSynergy allows its users to utilize the same keyboard and mouse across multiple computers/operating systems.

I like to use QuickSynergy to quickly setup access with three or more of my computers, without ever needing to leave my chair. For me, it's a huge hassle avoidance using this great app. The only consideration I'd point out is that QuickSynergy is a bit of a resource hog. So if you're running into performance issues using QuickSynergy, you might look to setting up the less intensive Synergy command line tool instead.

PDF Mod – While I try to avoid it whenever possible, there are instances where I need to edit a PDF file. Normally, I'd find myself copying the text from said file, only to then recreate the PDF file after making needed modifications. But not too long ago, I found PDF Mod and let me tell you, it's fantastic.

Using a few mouse clicks, I can easily tweak and edit any PDF document on my hard drive, then save my changes to the file. Another benefit I enjoy with PDF Mod is being able to move the placement of specific pages.

Nitro Tasks – After trying a number of task management apps, I found I needed an application that both integrated my tasks into something that was easy to use and synced to Dropbox. After trial and error with various applications, Nitro Tasks is where I found my home.

What I enjoy the most about Nitro Tasks is that I can manage my tasks by urgency and by timeliness. Bundle this with tags and priority, this tool provides me with the perfect level of control without burying me in unnecessary features.

Viber – Without question, I think Viber is the closest thing to a "phone anywhere" tool I've seen as of late. Easy to install on any distro, very reliable and it works very well over wifi. Sadly, recent installs of Viber have failed miserably on my daily box. But it's still running like a champ on my Debian based machine.

Once installed, you're going to experience an iChat-like client that allows you to send text messages to any Viber user, no matter if you're sitting in front of the computer or halfway across the globe on your phone.

Bittorrent Sync – In my ongoing quest to find the perfect sync client, my search leaves me fairly happy with the Bittorrent Sync (BTSync)client. After testing various open source alternatives, I realized that I need something that just worked – but without the extra cost.

I rely on BTSync to sync various large files that would otherwise take forever syncing in the cloud off-site with services like Dropbox. As a result, most of my syncs are local and incredibly fast over my LAN.

Shutter – Besides writing, taking screen shots is a huge part of my day. The key thing I need for my productivity in this space is to be able to maintain ample control over the screenshots I take. This is where Shutter comes in.

I use shutter to take my screenshots, upload them to Flickr and in some instances, make visual changes to each image via the drawing tool.

Guake – As terminals go, if you've seen one you've seen them all. But their location, on the other hand, can make all the difference. With a drop-down terminal like Guake, I can click two keys and instantly I have access to my terminal without any surprises. Then when I'm finished executing the commands I needed, I simply click the hot keys again and the terminal slides back to its home at the top of my screen.

The best advantage I've found using Guake is that I can run commands in the background, then slide the terminal out of my view so I can finish working on other tasks.

Gparted – When it comes to the management of my partitions, I need to have a visual sense of where things are being moved to. Having had painful mistakes in the past, I rely on a visual partition editor to help me to avoid painfully obvious mistakes. To be clear, I've used text based partition editors for years and all too often I misread the obvious.

One of my most happy Gparted successes is being able to expand a home directory. Despite being risky, the GUI helped me to "visually" verify that I had the right partitions selected. From there, I shrank one partition and expanded the other. Took hours, but once it was completed it worked like a charm.

TeamViewer – The final application I wanted to share with you is called TeamViewer. In the past, I've had success with SplashTop, however recently non-Ubuntu support has become a thing of the past. This is where I found myself giving TeamViewer another try. Thus far, TeamViewer has been rock solid for me. Because it's using a self-contained WINE bottle, I've found that TeamViewer provides remote desktop support without the breakage between updates I've experienced with other applications in this space.

In addition to using TeamViewer to assist clients needing remote support, I also use TeamViewer to handle my mom's computer maintenance as well. It's been a great tool thus far.

Final thoughts

When looking for productivity applications to share for this article, my goal was to share the software titles that help make me a more productive person. Additionally, I also chose titles based on their speed, ease of access and dependability. Because, these features also contribute to how well an application will work for me.

What features do you look for in productivity software? Also, which software titles do you find help you to be at your best throughout the work day? Use the Comments section and share your top productivity titles below.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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