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Linux Mobile Tools for the Business Traveler

  • February 19, 2009
  • By Paul Ferrill

It seems like everywhere you turn these days someone has one of those cute little netbooks under their arm or taking up a tiny corner of the table at Starbucks. Chances are pretty good you'll find a Linux operating system on a least a fair share of those netbooks as well. The real question for every prospective buyer without one currently in their possession has to be "but will it do everything I need it to do?" It all depends on what you want to do.

For the mobile business traveler there exists a fairly fixed set of things falling into the "got to have" category when it comes to a computer. E-mail is, without question, at or near the top of the list for some but may be less important for Blackberry or iPhone owners. Web surfing and simple document viewing / editing would be a task better done on a reasonably sized screen.

Note Taking

No business person worth their salary goes to any business engagement without the ability to take notes in some way. It might be on a cell phone, a legal pad or a fancy tablet PC. Finding the right program to help you keep and organize your notes is key to making it work on a Linux laptop. A number of options do exist for you to choose from.

Tomboy is one of the newer entries to the note taking software category and offers a simple "post-it note" approach to jotting down a quick reminder. Once installed Tomboy resides in the system tray area (top right of the screen in Ubuntu) and will come to life either by double clicking on the icon or using a keyboard hotkey. The main menu offers a simple search box and a list of existing notes. WebDav syncing is supported for keeping your notes synced between multiple machines.

One really interesting option from the KDE camp is BasKet Notes. This program comes as close as any Linux offering to Microsoft's OneNote program. There's even a Getting Things Done (GTD) template called a basket archive to help you collect all your digital stuff into one place. The concept here is to get all your similar information into one basket. BasKet uses tags and filters to help you mark and find the information you need. You can grab a screen shot and drop it into a note with a few mouse clicks.

Hardware Aids

While not specifically Linux, there is a product any business traveler is sure to find indispensible. It's the Outlets to Go 3 with USB from Monster Cable. Now you won't have to go on an extended airport search to find something other than a single outlet to charge your laptop and cell phone. The powered USB port lets you charge any device with a USB-charging capability. What's more, the power cable is just the right length to fold around the power strip and plug into an outlet on the opposite side for compact storage.


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