Enterprise Software

Don't need groupware? Organize your life with Osmo

Everyone needs a way to organize both their work and personal life, but not everyone needs the same solution. For something fast and lightweight that covers all the basics, Vincent Danen recommends Osmo.

Most people require a little help in managing and organizing their life. Whether we like to admit it or not, most people tend to be disorganized and the reason why we have any semblance of organization is because we have and use tools to help us: pads of paper, PDAs, phones, groupware solutions, and so forth.

If you don't necessarily need a smartphone to keep things under control and a large groupware solution like Zimbra or Outlook is too much organization, there's a solution called Osmo, which may be the program for you.

Osmo is a little personal organizer for Linux. It provides a calendar, task manager, address book, and a note-taking application. It is light-weight and fast and does not require an Internet connection to operate. It is not meant for collaborative work, so if that is what you need, a groupware solution is probably a better fit. But if all you need is a personal organization tool or information manager, Osmo will do the job nicely.

Your distribution of choice may have Osmo pre-packaged and ready to use with it being a simple yum or apt-get away. Once installed and started, you see Osmo start in the Calendar view with the current day circled. Beneath the calendar is a space for taking notes -- a handy place to jot down quick notes as they come to you.

Each note pane is specific to the date of the calendar, so if today was the 14th and you clicked on the 15th, any notes entered in would no longer be visible, until going back to the 14th. A little black tick on the calendar indicates those days that have associated notes. If you need to use the note space as an agenda, the clock icon will pre-fill out the note space with a timeline of your specification: You define the start and end hours and the step (in minutes) so you can have a timeline of every hour from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. if you like.

Moving to the Tasks pane allows you to keep a TODO or task list of items to complete. Here you can create new tasks that can have a due date, an associated category, and priority. Tasks can be made recurrent, so if you need a reminder to take out the garbage every other day, you can tell the task to repeat every few days. And task lists can be printed, so if you have a list of things to do but need the list with you, printing it out is a matter of clicking one button.

The Contacts section is simplistic, but provides more than enough information for a personal rolodex. You can include addresses, birthdate, nickname, various phone numbers, various online addresses (instant messaging, email, Web site, and so on), a picture, and a free-form text field to put in any notes about the person that you want to remember.

About

Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.

5 comments
JimTheEngineer
JimTheEngineer

I would like to try this (running under Windows) but there doesn't seem to be ANY documentation on how to use this - no user manual, no help file, no discussion. Is there something that I am missing here? - Jim

s_t
s_t

On the suggestion of this article, and needing something like this to replace the 10-year-old Palm Desktop, we downloaded the Windows version of Osmo (which the article does not mention but which is available on Sourceforge) and spent several hours trying to use it. The way the recommendation is written ("Organize your life with Osmo") exaggerates its capabilities and its maturity as a product and will lead more people to waste their time on it. This comment is not intended as a criticism of Osmo's developers, who are it seems persuing an idea in their spare time - good luck to them. Its functionality is extremely limited, its user interface is inconsistent across the few functions that are there, the screen layouts are poor and waste real estate, far too many clicks are required to open up windows to provide simple functions that should be already on the screen staring the user in the face, right-click seems totally deactivated so that there are no context menus in situations where a user would expect one (to edit a note, for example). The calendar and timed tasks display and manipulation would have many users howling in frustration before they got through the first day of it. If this were much better-designed and better-implemented and more consistent we'd use it right now with just a little more functionality than it has now, but it's just not there. It needs to mature much more before it can be promoted as something that might be useful in the future with more work. "Organize your life" ... not yet. For the present, we'll stick with the decade-old Palm Desktop which has not evolved in that decade. Good luck to the Osmo developers; we'll take a look again in the future. To the author of the article, I suggest you look harder and qualify software more thoroughly before inducing professionals to waste their time.

s_t
s_t

I couldn't find any documentation either, and this did not help. But many small, fast-moving projects run by volunteers have no documentation, so it's not that unusual. Having said that, even though it should be a simple piece of software, I did not find it at all intuitive to use. I had a fair idea what it should do, but had trouble making it do it. For example, everywhere it seemed logical to right-click to get some choices to edit or modify data, right-click did nothing. And it seemed to take a lot of left-clicking to use functions, and often they did not do what I expected.

vdanen
vdanen

Can't say I've ever tried the windows version, but the Linux version worked pretty well for me. Compared to Palm Desktop? Can't say... Palm Desktop is pretty hefty... I don't believe the aim of Osmo is to replace it (and there is no Palm Desktop for Linux that I'm aware of). For what it does, and what alternatives are available natively on Linux, Osmo does a pretty good job. The UI issues you're having are probably due to the Windows port... I don't recall seeing any of the strangeness you're seeing.

jon
jon

I use Osmo daily and have been for years. That being said, I do use the SVN ( development ) branch on Linux. Most of your problems may come from using the windows port. Having never used that version myself and not having any reason to, the biggest problem I have ever had was needing to install something about a year ago to enable the encrypted notes feature. Kudos to the Osmo devs, I thoroughly enjoy their app and use it daily. Keep up the good work!