Possibility and Probability

Coding Python and making businesses…

2 May 2016

Essential desktop Linux productivity hack

by admin

Need a productivity hack? As a back end python programmer, I find that using Linux as my desktop makes my job easier: my development environment is very close to the deployment environment. Working on laptop can impose some limitations, but I have discovered some productivity hacks that make me very happy and very productive!

Productivity Hack #1: Tiling windows

Tiling your desk top windows means arranging them so that they don’t overlap. For example, here’s a screenshot of my editor and a terminal side-by-side: [caption id=”attachment_649” align=”alignleft” width=”700”]productivity hack: emacs and terminal side by side A favorite productivity hack: a terminal and emacs side-by-side[/caption] There are window managers that will do this automatically for you, but in this article I’m going to talk about some built-in keyboard shortcuts that will let you do almost the same thing. Let’s dive into how Ubuntu does this! By pressing Ctrl and Alt and a number on the keypad, you can “move” your active window around on the screen. Since that’s a lot to type, I’m just going to say “C-A-n” for the rest of this post. An example use of this would be to press C-A-n 5 to maximize a window to full screen. My current favorite key combination is C-A-n 4 and C-A-n 6 which will put a window on the left or right side of the screen filling up half of the screen. This is very useful to doing things side-by-side (think an editor and a terminal). Using the keystrokes to move and position the windows is very fast and very precise. Using a mouse you would not be able to get the windows placed and size nearly as fast as you can with these awesome keyboard shortcuts.

Productivity Hack #2: Virtual Desktops

Most operating systems support virtual desktops, but are you using them correctly or effectively? My tip is to have each one dedicated to a specific task. On my desktop I have one desktop dedicated to “communications” so that’s where my twitter and IRC clients are, one for web browsing, I have another dedicated to music and work chat clients, and another dedicated to terminals and editors for writing code. Obviously you need to arrange your windows to meet your needs. Think about the applications you use on a daily basis: Do you use them all at the same time? Or could they be grouped together and moved to their own desktop? I tend to have one desktop dedicated to communication tools (slack, hipchat, etc.), and another to editors and terminals, and lately I’ve been trying to put my web browsers on another. I’m trying the last one out as an experiment to see if I’m more productive if I don’t have the distraction temptation of a web browser in front of my line of sight.

Productivity Hack #3: Keyboard shortcuts

You’ve probably heard it a million times before, but it is true: Taking you hands off the keyboard to grab the mouse does slow you down. If you use some convenient and easy keyboard short cuts, you can do all kinds of magic! Here are some essential keyboard short cuts that all programmers should know. The actual keys will vary from environment to environment so I encourage you to look these up for your situation and to try them out!

A lot of these keys can be mapped from one environment to another. For example, if you are an emacs user you can set your terminal to use the emacs keybindings so you don’t have to memorize a 2nd set of chords. These shortcuts will allow you to keep moving quickly as you are writing and testing your code, and that allows you to get into the zone and stay there. Too often I find when I need to slow down and use the mouse I will tend to get distracted easier. By using keyboard shortcuts you will be keeping up the focus that comes with fluidly moving around your programming environment you will get more done.

Wrapping up

The linux desktop has come a long way in the last few years. Each one of these simple productivity hack can help you get the most out of your time at the computer and impress your friends and colleagues with your speed and seemingly effortless productivity. Do you have a favorite productivity hack? Please share it in the comments or send me a tweet! @nloadholtes