Mar 312014

Productivity is very important. With a boost in productivity we save time and we get more work done in short period. That is why today in factories the production lines are automated. Productivity boosting is also important in everyday computer usage. No matter if you are just an regular desktop user, power user, developer or podcaster, with a boost in productivity you can save time, get more done and even also save some disk space, CPU and RAM usage. Many people do not know that there are some excelent opensource applications for increment the productivity. Some of them come as standard GNU tools with every Linux based operating system and other are standard parts from every major Linux distribution.

Idea behind this article is to cover some softwares that will be helpful for regular desktop users and also for small companies and offices.

1. ) Linux Terminal

Linux console is very powerful and useful. Learning your way through console should be on a to do list for every user. Today most users look at console like some archaic software, but console is not dead. It is used by millions of users everyday. Administration of systems, databases, development and many more tasks can be done faster from console then from any GUI application.

You can check my article on 10 programs to be used from the terminal, to get some idea of what you can do on the command line.

2.) Libreoffice

Libreoffice is an office and productivity suite forked from Openoffice in 2010. It is used for editing text documents, desktop publishing, spreadsheets, presentations, slideshows, creating diagrams and math.
But Libreoffice has also some really cool features and plugins that will help you boost your productivity.
Libreoffice can be used for maintenance of small databases used in home or office ( this will show you how). With Libreoffice you can also install an extension and edit wiki pages on Mediawiki servers without knowing syntax. For this you will need wiki-publisher plugin. Wiki-publisher enables you to edit Wiki articles as regular word documents. Also useful plugins are nlpsolver ( it offer Solver engine and helps solving nonlinear models ) and presentation minimizer ( it reduces the size of presentation ).

3.) VIM

Since early 1970`s VI is an popular text editor. In 1988 Bram Moolenaar started developing the VIM editor based on VI. Released in 1991 for Amiga computers it was called VI Imitation and in 1993 with 2.0 release VIM changed name to VI Improved. In very short time VIM become popular among users. Released as free software under its own software license. VIM`s license is called charityware license and is compatible with GNU Public license. VIM will help you boost your productivity and get things done. For shortcuts and cheat sheets visit this link and let us focus on VIM plugins.

MRU – MRU will help you tracking and reusing recently used documents
VIMExplorer – file manager for VIM
NERDTree – advanced file explorer for VIM
NERDCommenter – comment editor
snipMATE – Textmates snippets features for VIM
bufferexplorer – VIM buffer explorer
calendar – the name of this plugin speaks enough ( calendar in VIM )
Fugitive – fugitive is a great plugin that integrates VIM with Git

This is my setup to work with GIT+Puppet+markdown language, feel free to clone my github setup if you like it.

4.) Xmonad

New and modern desktop managers like GNOME 3 or KDE4 come all dressed up and full of eye candy. They look nice but not everything is in the appearance. In my opinion it’s more important what is under the hood then how the hood looks like. But not everything is lost.

Some interfaces are not following this trend. They are known as window managers. Window managers are divided in two main groups, floating window managers and tiling window managers. When speaking from point of productivity boosting, tiling window managers caught my interest. One of most popular tiling managers is Xmonad.

Xmonad is an tiling window manager written in Haskell and it was introduced in 2007 as DWM fork. Well, at first Xmonad was just DWM rewritten from C into Haskell but today Xmonad comes with features unavailable for DWM without patching and some are Xmonad specific features.

Installation is simple and easy and almost every distribution has Xmonad on its repository. Configuration is done in xmonad.hf file located in .xmonad folder in the user home folder. Also Xmonad can be used as standalone window manager or as window manager for GNOME, Xfce or KDE.

5.) Z Shell

In short, Z Shell or ZSH is the last shell you will ever use. ZSH is shell written to be interactive shell and script interpreter. ZSH is Bash compatible and has many advantages over Bash like:

improved tab completion
improved globbing
improved array handling
fully customizable

Before installing ZSH make sure what shell you are using with echo $SHELL .
Most distributions have ZSH on their repository and so it needs just to be pulled and installed into system.
Slackware comes with ZSH preinstalled and you have choice to make it your default shell when configuring fresh installed Slackware system. When installed runchsh -s $ (which zsh) to make ZSH your default shell. To use it, you need to logout and login and sometimes it is necessary to reboot the system. Configurations is done over few scripts



I realize that these are packages that not everyone would consider so useful to increase its productivity and much depends on the work you do, maybe for you GIMP is the killer app, but I use it rarely.

But these are not the only packages used for productivity boosting. Mplayer, ffmpeg, MPD, mutt, Turpial, WordPress, RSSOwl, Task Coach, Bibus, Storybook,…. No matter in what field you are and what you are doing, there is an open source application for you to help you boost your productivity.

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