This will be an ongoing series of articles highlighting lesser known applications for Linux. These articles will be a bit Ubuntu-centric, but these applications should run nicely on your distribution of choice. Also, some of these applications may be a bit more than “lesser” known, but they are not part of the standard core of applications you see upon a few install of a desktop Linux distribution.
Linux desktop users have their favorite lesser known applications. The applications range from browsers to email clients, news readers to IM clients, dictionaries to editors, satellite trackers to athletic training logs, CAD designers to file mangers, accounting programs to time/project planners. There are a ton of applications available that provide solutions to everyday computing needs, if you know where to look.
I use Ubuntu 7.04 on my computer, so I usually search the repositories via Synaptic for applications. Many times, I discover applications by reading about them in Linux forums or online articles. Websites, such as SourceForge , getdeb and Linux App Finder, are other places to search for lesser known applications.
This installment will review applications for health and food.
There are several options for computerized athletic logbooks. Kipinä, SportsTracker, and PyTrainer are the most prevalent. I will discuss Kipinä and SportsTracker. I have not worked with PyTrainer, so I cannot give a fair assessment.
If you do a Synaptic search for “training log” using the Ubuntu repositories, Kipinä will be listed as a result. Upon installing it, the application will be listed in the “Other” submenu of the Application menu.
I live in the United States of America. Unfortunately the metric system is not used here. Mathematically it is very easy to work with the metric system. But because the imperial measurement system is drummed into our heads at an early age, we just don’t do metric. Unless you work with it in science courses, then you understand it well. Having said this, I do not like Kipinä because I cannot get it to use imperial measurement.
I run miles. I know how to convert miles to kilometers and kilometers to miles. But as I enter a workout, I want to enter it in miles, not kilometers. On race day, even if I run a 5k or a 10k, I still want to enter it as 3.1 or 6.2 miles. I want it to accumulate my distance in miles, not kilometers. I want my pace calculated in minutes per mile as well. These are my preferences. Kipinä should accommodate this preference to reach a broader user base.
Another beef I have with Kipinä is you cannot edit an entry. Once a workout is entered, it cannot be edited. If you need to edit it, you delete it and reenter it. This is not efficient or user-friendly. In fact it is a pain in the butt.
I find Kipinä lack of preferences a shortcoming and do not recommend the application at this time. It may well develop into a nice application in the future. It does have some nice capabilities.
The athletic logbook that I use is SportsTracker. It cannot be found in the Ubuntu repositories. Instead it can be obtained from getdeb. Install it and let it go to the Ubuntu repositories for the required dependencies. It will show up in the “Accessories” portion of the Application menu after installation.
SportsTracker stores its application data in XML files. This gives an advantage in importing and exporting data, if one knows how to work with XML. It can accommodate a variety of sports, not just the endurance sports of running, walking, cycling, and swimming. It can also import data from several models of Polar and CicloSport heart rate monitors.
Adding, deleting, and editing of workouts are possible within SportsTracker. View options include calendar and list. Tools include a statistical breakdown and an overview diagram by sport.
A couple of things I wish SportsTracker had are a workout planner/scheduler and an equipment usage tracker (example: tracking the mileage on a pair of running shoes). You could do this by setting up sport types of “planner” and “shoe mileage” and entering them on the calendar. Doing this to track shoe mileage creates a double entry for your running entries. A planner sport type allows you to chart if you are on, behind, or ahead of a training schedule when compared to your actual training log. A sport type of “injury” also provides for tracking injuries to see if they are a result of over-training.
All in all, SportsTracker is a versatile application. I recommend it.
What benefit is a sports regiment if you are not also eating healthy meals? There are a few computerized recipe books available in Linux. The one I recommend is Krecipes.
If you are using Ubuntu, Krecipes is available via Synaptic from the Ubuntu repositories. Upon install, you will have to do a couple of things if you want it available from the Applications menu.
First of all, add it to your Applications menu by right clicking (left click if you are left-handed and have reversed the mouse buttons, as I am and have done) and select “Edit Menus.” A box will pop up that will allow you to add the Krecipes entry to any part of your Application menu that you choose. I dropped it in my “Other” submenu.
After adding it, I clicked on it only to discover that it would not open. So I opened a terminal window to start it by typing: krecipes. It would not start. It did start if I typed: sudo krecipes. What it told me was that running krecipes would require changing some file and folder permission settings.
So the second thing I did to get Krecipes running was I typed: sudo nautilus, then made my changes graphically to the .kde folder within my home directory. The .kde initially only has root privileges, changing this allows Krecipes to run from the menu.
Next click on Krecipes. You are greeted with a setup box that will link it to the database of your choice. I chose sqlite. A couple clicks later, after choosing to load the example database, Krecipes was up and running. It provides for adding, editing, and searching for recipes; a diet helper; a shopping list; ingredient matcher; and a data section. The data section expands upon user-definable items that help set up recipes, such as “Authors” which will allow you to accredit your grandmother to being the author/creator of her recipes that you will undoubtedly find yourself entering into the database.
One of the nice tools available in Krecipes is a measurement converter. If you are like me, you will find yourself consulting this when “resizing” a recipe. Actually I think my wife will use this more often than me (when I add this application to her computer). She is the great cook in this household. I am good at overcooking things.
The application I eventually hope to utilize is QBrew. What is it? It is a delicious application that will help with perfecting the recipe of your home brew. It has a guide to help homebrewing novices, like me, with the brewing process.
The next installment of Lesser Known Applications for Linux will cover a few applications that are hobby- and/or learning-related. Until then stay fit, eat right, and toast to good health.