Sadly, the time tracking apps available for Linux all have issues as of right now, but the best option is certainly the Linux-specific, super simple Hamster.
- Track any project, billable or otherwise
- Simple Start and Stop buttons let you track your activities without getting in your way
- Tag any activity with multiple tags for easier sorting later on
- See an overview of the day, week or month and manually edit it to your liking
- See bar graphs of how long you’ve spent on certain activities, tags, or categories
- Export your overviews to a printable HTML format
Hamster is extremely simple without being too dumbed-down. With a simple menu bar applet, you can bring up a new activity. Just type in the activity’s name, tags, click the Start button, and go back to work. When you start a new activity, it’ll stop the current one, or you can stop it manually. The overview is very nice, and you can view it in many different layouts, which is great.
Hamster also has the advantage of being the only popular Time Tracker on Linux that works mostly out of the box. It still hasn’t been fully updated for GNOME 3, which means if you’re running the latest version of Ubuntu (even with Unity), it’ll have some problems. Luckily, you can download and install Alberto Milone’s App Indicator for Hamster until it gets updated.
Hamster’s only shortcomings come when compared to apps on other platforms, like Klok, which displays your time in an easy-to-read calendar view. Similarly, it requires all manual input, unlike RescueTime, which will automatically track the apps you run and the sites you visit. That said, Hamster still does a great job of staying out of your way despite its manual nature, and as long as you’re strict about tracking each of your activities, you’ll get a lot out of it.
The competition is pretty slim. RescueTime doesn’t have an official Linux client, but a few devs have put together an unofficial uploader that will automatically track the apps you use and the sites you visit and upload that data to RescueTime’s web-based interface. Its biggest downside is that it’s very difficult to install and get working and if you’re on a newer version of Ubuntu, you might not be able to get it to work at all. However, RescueTime is one of my personal favourite time trackers, so it’s worth researching to see if you can get it working.
Our other favourite time tracking app, Klok, is an Adobe Air app, and with Air no longer being supported on Linux, we thought it would be futile to choose it as the best. It’s a fantastic app, and it should still work on Linux if you have Adobe AIR installed — but if you don’t have Air installed, it’s become a bit of a chore and is no longer officially supported, so it’s unknown whether this app is going to stick around on Linux for long. Hamster is at least still being actively developed for Linux, so we felt it more reliable to recommend it before checking these out.
There you have it — you don’t have a lot of choices. There may be a few other lesser-known apps, but frankly, Hamster is fantastic, and will work better than anything else if RescueTime and Klok don’t work for you. Got a favourite we didn’t mention? Be sure to share it with us in the comments.
Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.
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