Linux users have a few calendar programs to choose from, but none of them are particularly spectacular — in fact, most of them aren’t very good at all. As such, we’re bending the rules of the App Directory and recommending that you use the awesome Google Calendar webapp for all your scheduling needs.
We understand that some of you might be upset that our pick isn’t a “true” desktop app. However, we still think it’s the best option on Linux by a good, good margin. That is, if you asked us what the best way to manage your calendar was on a Linux machine, we’d say Google Calendar, hands down — and that’s what the App Directory is about. It’s about finding the best tool for the job, not getting caught up in technicalities. If you want a desktop app, check out the Competition section below.
- Manage multiple calendars, and share them with your friends, family, and co-workers so they can keep up on when you’re busy.
- Store calendars offline with Google Chrome
- Quickly add events with just a few clicks and a phrase like “Dinner on Sunday with Grandma at 5PM.”
- Set reminders that email you, text you, or display a pop-up window when an event is near, either for individual events or for all events on a specific calendar.
- Send invitations for events on your calendar and let other Google Calendar users RSVP via email or GCal itself.
- Sync your calendars down to nearly any desktop or mobile app, so you have it with you wherever you go.
- View calendars in a day, week, month, custom number of days, or event-by-event “agenda” view.
- Attach files stored in Google Docs to calendar events.
- Search for events throughout your calendars using Google’s algorithm.
- Google Calendar Labs, which enhance the experience by letting you add additional features like less intrusive pop-ups and displaying other attendees on the event’s block in your calendar.
Where It Excels
Google Calendar’s biggest advantage is that it’s extremely easy to use without skimping on features. Everything is plainly laid out: you can add quick calendar events with a few keystrokes or more advanced events, full of reminders and other attributes when you need them. Being able to send yourself emails and text messages is also great, as is setting specific events to “free” or “busy”.
No doubt the coolest feature of GCal, though, is being able to share your calendars with others and have them share their calendars with you. Never again will you have to call your spouse and ask them if they’re busy, or email your friends asking them what dates they’ve planned for that road trip. It’s all in your calendar, all the time. Plus, it’s completely free and can sync to just about any other app out there, meaning you’ll always have it on your phone and can access it from any computer.
Where It Falls Short
Now that Google Calendar has offline access, it has most of the perks of a true desktop app and thus doesn’t have a load of downsides. It’s Gmail integration is surprisingly disappointing, though — you can add events right from Gmail, but they don’t take on any dates or times from the email, making it a mere link to Google Calendar. It’d be nice if it could try to extrapolate event details from the message and create it that way.
We won’t lie; there aren’t a heap of great desktop calendar apps on Linux. The best is probably Mozilla Sunbird, also known as the Lightning extension to our favourite Linux email client, Thunderbird. It integrates with your email, gives you a more desktop feel, and can sync with Google Calendar. I’ve found it to be a bit buggy in the past, but if you absolutely need a desktop app, this should be your first stop.
Evolution also has a calendar app built-in, and it isn’t bad — except that there’s a pretty egregious bug in the current version that won’t let you sync with any online calendars, which means your calendars are either stuck in read-only mode on the web or stuck on your local machine. There is a workaround to re-enable Google Calendar syncing, but unless you’re really tied to Evolution for email, it isn’t really better than Sunbird/Lightning.
Rainlendar is also a popular calendar, albeit a bit less traditional of one. Instead of having its own big window, it puts a small calendar widget on your desktop and alerts you to upcoming events. You can apply all sorts of different skins and even sync with services like Google Calendar and Remember the Milk. If you want quick access to your calendar while keeping it out of the way, it’s worth checking out.
Day Planner is a pretty cool app that, while it can’t sync with services like Google Calendar, has a slightly different interface than your run of the mill calendar app. It’s more focused on the current day, showing you a small calendar and your upcoming agenda, so it keeps you up to date on what’s going on without taking up your entire screen. It’s kind of a halfway point between Rainlendar and a full desktop app, which is pretty nice. Still, the lack of support for external services is kind of a bummer — though it does have its own external server with which you can sync your calendar.
These aren’t the only calendar apps for Linux, but we think they’re pretty much the only ones worth your time. If you have a favourite we didn’t mention, be sure to tell us about it in the comments.
Lifehacker’s App Directory recommends the best applications and tools across multiple platforms.
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