Katapult : faster and easier access to your applications, bookmarks and files

September 5th, 2007 edited by ana

Entry submitted by Ingo Wagener . DPOTD needs your help, please contribute!

Everybody must know the feeling – you installed this great program the other day and now you want to run it. You remember the name, but where in the world it is in the menu? Under System? Under Utilities or even Settings to name but a few options? And so the annoying search starts.

Granted, there are ways of getting round this such as the familiar ALT+F2 and then typing the entire name of the program. Some of us would go to (or already are on) the command line – again followed by typing the program name, perhaps aided by hitting a tab or two.

Those who are well organised – and at times I count myself amongst them – incorporate it into the quick starter on the taskbar so as to get accustomed to its icon and see how usage progresses.

But what do you do when you are not at your peak in terms of organisation (i.e. most of the time) or worse, you don’t even remember the full name of the program?

Help is at hand in the form of Katapult. This is a nifty little helper which, once installed, is called into action by hitting ALT+space and greets you with this:

Say I want to take a screenshot. Running KDE I want to call up the program ksnapshot. What is the quickest way of getting to it? 5 keystrokes as far as I am concerned – this is without having a special keyboard shortcut set up, which obviously could reduce this number. How? Here goes, ALT+space and you get the above, then I type a K, as the program I am after starts with a K followed by an S and finally the N and I get the following:

All I have to do is hit enter and my desired programme comes up. So how exactly does it work? Why do I have to type KSN to get the shortcut for Ksnapshot? Here is a breakdown of what happens in between after I have typed both the K and the KS:

You can see the typed letters highlighted in blue and cycles through all the possibilities until it hits on the one you want – and you press enter.

But Katapult will not only work on programs but also functions as a calculator, it even indexes files! Thus, if I wanted to quickly find out what the result of 56324/18*17 is I’d type ALT+space followed by the what I want to calculate. Katapult will answer to this query as follows:

Alternatively, if I wanted to listen to a specific song like “The battle of Epping Forest” I’d type any part of the song’s name, in this case “epping” and Katapult greets me with the following result:

But that is not all, it also indexes your bookmarks. To give you an idea of its manifold capabilities here is a screenshot of its configuration window:

All I can say is that is has increased my productivity, and prolonged the life of my mouse’s batteries in equal measure.

Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 23 Comments »

Conky: highly configurable system monitor for X

September 2nd, 2007 edited by ana

Entry submitted by Casey Stamper. DPOTD needs your help, please contribute!

Conky is one of my favorite applications for all of my Linux distros. It is a light-weight system monitor (according to the project page) that can monitor many different aspects of your computer. You choose what to monitor and you choose where the monitor is displayed on your desktop through use of a configuration file - .conkyrc. I like to have my display on the top right of the screen and I have the background transparent so it looks like it floats on the desktop.

Here is a screenshot: (click on the image for full size)

I especially like the CPU temperature monitor because I like to keep track of how hot the CPU gets when I’m doing CPU-intensive operation. The application is very light on resources (especially important for my Inspiron 5160) but allows you to keep track of a lot of system parameters without the bloat of a GUI front end.

Among other things, I monitor disk space, memory usage, system load, network download and upload speed, internet connections by protocol, RAM usage, swap usage and running processes. Although it takes up a bit more memory to do so, I also monitor the /var/log/messages file (the same as having a window open running tail -f /var/log/messages just to see if anything is happening behind the scenes that I should be aware of.

With this utility running all the time, if something should suddenly crash or if I have any slowdowns or anything else unusual, a quick glance at these various readouts will usually allow me to narrow the problem down to something specific.

If you use GKrellM or another built-in monitoring package, try this one out - I think you will like it.


Posted in Debian, Ubuntu | 14 Comments »

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