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Exploring Linux - Part 25

by Alan German

In the Windows world I have been a huge fan of PC Magazine's (previously free) NoteWhen utility. This little TSR program stores message text and displays a reminder in accordance with a user-specified schedule. I tried various similar applications in Linux but wasn't satisfied until I found KAlarm.

Since I use the classic Gnome desktop in Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin), and KAlarm is actually a KDE utility, the use of this program may be somewhat surprising. However, in the past, I have successfully run other KDE programs from the Gnome desktop, so I had no problem in trying out KAlarm. However, this isn't to say that this particular KDE program worked inside Gnome straight “out of the box” – it needed a little tweak.

First though, let me say that KAlarm has considerable flexibility and power, yet is very easy to use. At its simplest, one selects New – New Display Alarm, enters a text message, sets the date and time for the reminder, and presses OK. Then, when the appointed time comes around, the text message is displayed on the screen together with a musical accompaniment.

For those of us who can readily live without all the “bells and whistles”, KAlarm is highly configurable and so it is a simple matter to go into Settings – Configure KAlarm – Edit – Alarm Types – Sound – None in order to turn of the music. And, under the settings menu, you will find a whole host of other options – everything from the range of working hours, to the font and colour to be used for message display.

One thing that I found puzzling was that, although I had checked Run Mode – Start at Login, and View Settings – General – Show in system tray, KAlarm wasn't actually starting when I booted into Ubuntu.

This appears to be a problem due to using a KDE program under Gnome. A bug report indicates that, under Gnome, a command such as the following must be used to start KAlarm:

kalarmautostart kalarm - -tray

When this command is included as an optional startup program (System – Preferences – Startup Applications – Startup Programs) KAlarm does indeed spring into action as soon as the machine boots up.

So, with KAlarm running, my whole life is organized with a series of reminders set to be displayed at the appropriate times. Now, did I remember to set an alarm for my wife's birthday...?

Bottom Line:

KAlarm (Open source)
Version 2.9.0
David Jarvie

Originally published: May, 2013

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