Sharing a passion for Linux and open source, with a decidedly non-techie slant

3 More Useful Desktop Utilities

Here's a quick look at another trio of useful little tools for the Linux desktop that can help you quickly and efficiently tackle some simple tasks.

The utilities I'm about to look at are ones that you might not always use, but which are handy to have around when you need them.

Let's jump in, shall we?

Text Pieces

Described by its developer as a Swiss knife of text processing, Text Pieces kind of lives up to that billing. Text Pieces does some weird, wonderful, and at times geeky things to plain text.

Like what? How about:

And more.

To do any of that, fire up Text Pieces and either paste some text into the editor or open a file. Then click Select Tool in the header bar, as shown below:

Selecting a tool in Text Pieces

Once you're done, click Apply on the toolbar. If the tool changed the text file, click the Save to file icon on the toolbar.

Here's an example of the links that Text Pieces extracted from an RSS feed file using the OPML to RSS Links tool:

Output from OPML to RSS links tool in Text Pieces


There are times when you might need to simply and quickly create a password. There are a number of ways to do that, but Pasgen (no, that's not a typo) is definitely worth a look.

To call Pasgen easy to use is an understatement. There are only four options on the screen, as shown below:

PasGen's main window

You can choose any combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. You can also set the number of characters your password will contain — out of the box, that's 18.

When you're ready to go, click Generate Password. Your password displays at the bottom of the window, as shown below:

A generated password in PasGen

All you need to do is copy and paste it somewhere.


Have you ever needed a simple way to extract text from an image or a video? Neither have I, but recently a couple of friends have run into just that situation. I was able to point them to a utility called TextSnatcher that does a pretty good job.

As you can see below, the interface is quite simple:

TextSnatcher's main window

And TextSnatcher is easy to use. Just click the Snatch Now! button and you're asked to point out where to find the image, as shown below:

Pointing TextSnatcher to an image

You can take a screen capture of an image or video on your screen, find an image file on your hard drive, or use an image that's been copied to your clipboard. After the tool processes the text it snatches, that text is copied to your clipboard. From there, you can paste it into, say, a text editor or word processor.

You can also change the language of the text in the image by clicking the icon in the toolbar, as shown below:

Choosing a language in TextSnatcher

I only tried TextSnatcher with images containing a couple of short paragraphs of text at most (and only in English). While it worked well, I'm not sure how well or not TextSnatcher works with images containing more text or with other languages.

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #desktop #utilities