Laverna & other evernote alternatives


We wrote about Nitro and Springseed earlier. Both of these native apps are good alternatives to Evernote on Linux as they can integrate with Dropbox. And then we have Nevernote (aka NixNote) – the multiplatform (JAVA based) open source client designed to work with Evernote. Recently we came across another open source project which is a very capable alternative to Evernote.

Laverna is written in Javscript and can run online in your browser or can be installed locally. Use markdown text to create beautiful notes with Laverna. I drafted this article in Laverna.

Laverna has native desktop clients too.


  • No registration needed for the online app.
  • Laverna uses IndexedDB and localStorage. All the information will be stored only on client-side.
  • Can encrypt the client-side notes with SJCL library.
  • Optional synchronization with cloud storage.
  • Markdown text. Laverna web app uses pagedown and ACE editor.
  • Clean interface. Several editing modes: distraction-free mode, preview mode and normal.
  • Useful editor tools: blockquote, sample code, image insertion, tags.
  • Works as a task manager too. Check the sample note.
  • Local install possible.
  • Runs as a web service, so platform independent.
  • Native client for Linux, Windows, Mac.
  • Self-hosted option.
  • Open source and free.

Webpage: Laverna


  • Dillinger is another excellent cloud based markdown editor that stores the notes locally and optionally in Dropbox, GitHub, Google Drive and OneDrive. It also supports many themes and export options.
  • Remarkable is a fully local application but I wouldn’t mind it because of tons of dependencies.
  • Paperwork is a open source note-taking & archiving alternative to Evernote, Microsoft OneNote & Google Keep.
  • Everpad is an unofficial Linux Evernote client.

Stream and listen to music from Dropbox

dropbox_compMany of us stash their whole music collection on Dropbox and forget all about it for a while. The next time we want to listen to some old tune, we (at least I) feel too lazy to sync the directory or search and download the file. Here are some ways to listen to your music on Dropbox without literally downloading them.


Clementine is an awesome music player that can stream music not only from Dropbox but from other services like Box, Google Drive and OneDrive. Just search and play!


Web service to stream music from Dropbox. You can browse all your directories and listen to your favourite music.


Web service that authorizes with Dropbox and needs you to create a directory inside Dropbox folder tree. You can move the files you want to listen to under that directory and streamboxr will play it for you.

Play chess online with friends or engines

chessLooking for a good chess website to play with friends or practice against powerful chess engines but do not want to create a permanent account? Here are two good options for you.


You have options to play with friends or against the powerful chess engine Stockfish. You can also post seeks or accept seeks from others. If you want to play against a friend create a game and send him/her the link to join the game. Each game is unique and you can replay later. You can also adjust the strength of the stockfish engine when initiating a game against machine. The interface is clean and distraction free. You can chat with opponet while playing.


A better interface on mobile than lichess. Allows downloading the game in PGN format. No chat option. The service is probably down.


Shredder is a powerful game playing and analysis engine. You can play against Shredder online in its website. There are three difficulty levels to choose from. As additional perks you can solve various chess problems or learn from endgame and opening databases.

Console based note managers

xtnotepadAll of us keep notes. In my case I like to keep them organized and I use note managers for that. Though I have initially used graphical note managers cherrytree, springseed etc. because of the visual editing features they provide, I realized at one point that I do not need so many bells and whistles. Many of these tools are bulky, some of them are slow starters and most of them provide more options than you want to handle. So I fell back to console based note managers. Here are some of those I like and find very easy to use and simple to understand. They just manage a number of notes and provide you options to edit them in your favourite editor.

  • note
    As simple as it can be. Type note and it shows you the options to list notes, show topics, add, delete, search and edit new notes. The notes are saved as plain text and you can add the editor of your choice in the configuration file. Mine is vi. Note stores the documents in mysql format and supports IDEA or DES encryption.
  • nodau
    The basic features are similar to note but you always need to start nodau with an option which seemed little obtrusive to me. Isn’t remembering the name of the program enough? You can have encrypted notes with nodau.
  • theca
    Rust utility to take notes with 256-bit AES encryption, multiple profiles, search support.

My favourite is note.

Medical software for Linux

medical_compThere is a long list of medical software for Linux, starting from medical image management to patient record maintenance. Here’s an alphabetical list of some medical software which can considerably reduce the cost of medical institution management. Many of them will be useful to individual practitioners as well.

  • 3D Slicer
    Multiplatform, open source, integrated software for visualization and image computing. It is intended for computer scientists and clinical researchers.
  • Aeskulap
    Medical image viewer.
    Competely free tool for viewing, analyzing, and registering volumetric medical imaging data sets. It’s been written on top of GTK+, and runs on any system that supports this toolkit (Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, etc.).
  • biosig-tools
    Converter between different file formats, including but not limited to SCP-ECG(EN1064), HL7aECG (FDA-XML), GDF, EDF, BDF, CWFB. save2gdf can be also used to upload or retrieve data from a bscs server.
  • Care2x
    Integrated hospital information system.
  • ClearHealth
    Winner of the 2011 and 2012 IHMA’s performance excellence award. It is a software for medical operations and facility management.
  • dcm4che
    An implementation of DICOM and IHE actors in Java, and provides a robust user interface for administrators which runs entirely in a Web browser. Included in the project is dcm4chee, an image manager and image archive among a large collection of other utilities.
  • FreeMED
    open source Electronic Medical Record system and Practice Administration package based on Apache, MySQL and PHP.
  • FreeMedForms
    Free, open source, multiplatform medical forms manager. It can be used for clinical research and patient database management.
  • FSL
    A comprehensive library of analysis tools for FMRI, MRI and DTI brain imaging data. It runs on Apple and PCs (both Linux, and Windows via a Virtual Machine), and is very easy to install. Most of the tools can be run both from the cmdline and as GUIs (“point-and-click” graphical user interfaces).
  • Ginkgo CADx
    Advanced DICOM viewer and dicomizer (converts png, jpeg, bmp, pdf, tiff to DICOM).
  • GNUmed
    Open source Electronic Medical Record software in multiple languages to assist and improve longitudinal care (specifically in ambulatory settings, i.e. multi-professional practices and clinics).
  • iHRIS Suite
    Free and open source software for managing health workforce information. This information helps countries address health workforce shortages and solve other challenges across the health sector.
  • OpenClinica
    Open source clinical trials software for electronic data capture (EDC) and clinical data management (CDM).
  • OpenEMR
    Multiplatform open source electronic health records and medical practice management application that can run on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and many other platforms.
  • OpenMRS
    Open source enterprise electronic medical record system platform.

Tools in my Linux kit

ubuntu_apps_compThere are always some software programs that become a part of your daily activities. Being a round the clock Linux power user I have my share of Linux applications which I am particularly fond of and accustomed to. Some of them even replace the default installed applications in their categories as they are lightweight and do the job better. I thought of coming up with a list of such tools so that our readers can also try those out. All of these tools are GUI based. For the sake of the record, I use Ubuntu with the LXDE environment. The list is in alphabetical order.

Online services to work (& play) smart

smartwork_compFacebook and Twitter won’t help you much in the way of getting stuff done. But there are many online services which can assist you in doing your job faster and smarter. We have covered some of them in past articles but then we thought it’s high time we serve them in a single plate. These services are diverse in functionality and useful in their own unique ways. How many do you use already?

    Note taking app for quick notes, bookmarks and sharing those with others. Password protection available. In case you want to send a burn after reading note, try Privnote.
  2. FileTea
    Share your files with friends directly from your system. No cloud upload, P2P data sharing.
  3. historious
    Store bookmarks with full page indexing.
  4. Pixlr
    Fast online image editor. Shrink images with Kraken.
  5. pCloud
    Cloud storage that supports direct cloud downloads and uploads to shared storage by non-users.
  6. Google Drive
    One place to view, edit, convert and store all your documents. There are multiple ways to sync files locally. Another alternative is Microsoft Office Online.
  7. PDFescape
    How many times have you wanted to edit a PDF file badly? Thought so. PDFescape is your friend. Remember those scanned PDF files which come in huge sizes? Shrink them with Compress PDF.
  8. Feedspot
    RSS and feed reader with a clean interface.
  9. StumbleUpon
    Spend your spare time browsing random pages from the internet of your interest. Fun way to learn!
  10. MintEmail
    Ever signed up to a service with your regular mail ID only to find numerous spam and newsletters flooding your inbox later? Try disposable mails.
  11. Browser Extensions
    A few extensions for safe and better browsing experience:
    a. AdBlock Plus blocks annoying ads
    b. FlashBlock blocks flash video auto-loading
    c. Disconnect hides your online tracks
    d. HTTPS Everywhere encrypts your communication with many major websites even if they provide limited HTTPS support
  12. Startpage
    Search the web anonymously. If you want to help someone Google something use Let Me Google That For You.
  13. minutes
    Take meeting minutes online and share instantly.
  14. Google Calendar
    Never miss another meeting or anniversary. Register your number and get SMS alerts minutes before the schedule.
  15. EveryTimeZone
    Scratching your head when the meeting with your overseas boss is actually scheduled? Try EveryTimeZone. If you want to check the local time at any city try The World Clock. The combination works better to account for daylight saving. WorldTimeBuddy is another alternative.
  16. FlightStats
    Got delayed at the airport and desperate to know for how long you’ll be stuck? Works worldwide. You cna check the flight schedule and status.
  17. FollowUpThen
    A reminder is only an email away. Need read receipts too? Try Boomerang (limited free).
  18. Date Duration Calculator
    Want to calculate how many days left to your project deadline? If you need a variety of timers check out Online Stopwatch.
  19. Wolfram
    Going to a new place or wanna know about a new dish? Search it in Wolfram!
  20. Dictation
    Speech to text, right in your browser.
  21. Pancake
    Host a blog or website in your Dropbox space. If you want to check if a domain name is still available or not try Simple Domain Name Registrar.
  22. Google Cache Browser
    Dead bookmark? You may still view the contents from Google’s cache.
  23. Similarsites
    Search sites similar to the one you like.
  24. Down For Everyone Or Just Me
    Ensure that a website is really down.
  25. Google URL Shortener
    Generate a short URL for any URL and share anywhere.
  26. DistroWatch
    Thinking of switching to Linux and looking for the right distro? Let DistroWatch guide you.

Finally, for Linux tips and Linux software visit TuxDiary.

Check website links

cool_penguin_smallWebsite admins would need to validate all URLs in the website from time to time. As it is near impossible to do it manually even for a medium-sized website, specialized tools can come in handy. Here are a few such tools which can do it very well. Both can crawl all the links of an website and generate reports on each link.

  • webcheck
    Linux only. webcheck seemed to give better results in my tests. However, it doesn’t support as many report formats as the next tool. The report is generated in a file named webcheck.dat which can be opened and viewed in any text editor. ccze can help with better report visibility to search for link errors. webcheck consumes considerable resource and bandwidth. Man page. Common usage:

    $ webcheck
  • LinkChecker
    Linux only. LinkChecker outputs the report in many formats. However, some results were not accurate. Few links which it detected as bad were healthy. However, it has a nice GUI too! Man page. Common usage:

    $ linkchecker -F html/linkcheck.html
  • Dead Link Checker
    Probably the best in the list. Online service. Shows the texts for linked URLs so that it is easier to trace broken links.
  • W3C Link Checker
    Hosted by W3C. Web based and easy to use. It doesn’t consume your bandwidth to validate the links.
  • Xenu (suggested by Jester Raiin)
    For Windows. Works on Linux with Wine. Lightweight and no-frills GUI. Free but not open source.

Telegram, TextSecure, Briar: security focused WhatsApp alternatives


Telegram is a WhatsApp alternative which aims at being fast and secure. It is not fully open source but it promises to release more and more code in the long run. Right now the focus is on releasing stuff for developers to start building on top of Telegram. Originally Telegram uses the MTProto Mobile Protocol. The look and feel is almost same as WhatsApp but the security features look promising. I logged in from the Android app as well as from browser using Webogram and immediately it sent me an alert message that there is a second login and how to terminate that. More on features:

  • Official apps for Android, iOS
  • Unofficial ports for web browsers (Webogram), a second edition, Chrome app, CLI (Linux), Windows Phone. Some of the ports work on Linux, Windows and MAC. Telegram JAVA libraries are also available.
  • Group chat with maximum 200 contacts
  • Secret Chats with end-to-end encryption to ensure messages can be read only by the intended recipient. Nothing is logged in the servers and messages can be set to auto-destruct both from sender and recipient devices.
  • Fast messaging service: uses a decentralized infrastructure with data centers positioned around the globe to connect people to the closest possible server
  • Uses minimum possible bytes to transmit messages. Probably uses state-of-the-art compression techniques.
  • Share videos up to 1GB, photos or forward any received media
  • Free unlimited cloud storage. Messages are stored in the cloud, so access from any device using Telegram.
  • Free and no-ads


TextSecure is another privacy-oriented messaging app with a clean interface. This app too has a strong security focus. You should also take a RedPhone from the same company, that encrypts your calls. Features:

  • Group chat support, share media and attachments
  • Server doesn’t access or store user information
  • Advanced end-to-end encryption protocol applied for every message
  • Free and open source
  • Fast message delivery

Check out this paper to know how secure TextSecure is.


The third app in this list is still in private Beta at the time of writing. The proposed features are:

  • Peer-to-peer encrypted messaging and forums
  • Messages are stored securely on your device, not in the cloud
  • Connect directly with nearby contacts – no Internet access required
  • Free and open source software


[Courtesy: Jester Raiin]

ZEN editors for distraction free writing

If you are a frequent writer or programmer, a distraction free writing environment can electrify your productivity. Jester Raiin mailed some good online editors which support this and I spiced it up with some more I know of. Here’s the final collection of online and local apps those provide a distraction free writing environment.

  • PenZen
    Takes a minimalist approach. The only option provided are to save the text to or download as PDF.
  • Writebox
    Comes as a browser plugin as well as an online service.
  • PyRoom
    Text editor written in Python.
    My personal favourite to access information from anywhere.
  • Writer
    Awesome interface. Might make you think of yourself as Neo in The Matrix. Plenty of useful tools – export, download, convert to PDF, print, social network integration and editor customization.
  • Quabel
    Lots of editor customization options. Exporting options are supported in a free account.
  • FocusWriter
    Another fantastic desktop app for Linux, Windows, Mac. Offers export options, timers and alarms, goals, customizable themes (from fonts to background), focused text, sound effects, spell checks, sessions, multiple documents, portable version. Great for programming as it supports tabs too. Available in Saucy default repositories.
  • WriteMonkey
    Windows only but couldn’t help adding it. Highly popular because of its minimal footprint, aesthetic look and feel, JS plugin support, Markup support, CSS templates, progress bar, timed writing, bookmarks, jumps and many other interesting features to come in such a small size.
  • Calmly Writer
  • TextRoom
  • Write Space
  • vim
    There’s no better programmer’s editor than vi. To emulate a distraction free environment with vi fire a terminal and press F11 to make it fullscreen. Open vi and write to your heart’s content.
  • WordPress Editor
    Added this because I use it a lot to write all these articles for you ;). While writing a new post press Alt+Shift+W and then F11 (to make the browser fullscreen) and enter the complete distraction free mode.