I'd like to have a countdown timer in my taskbar on an Ubuntu 12.04 machine with Unity 2D. My use case is primarily time management, for example "countdown from 30 minutes, and I'll take a break when the timer finishes."

I installed gnome-shell-timer by doing sudo apt-get install gnome-shell-timer. However, I'm not sure how to launch the gnome-shell-timer application. Here's what I've tried:

  • I typed gnome-shell-timer on the command line, but it says command not found.
  • I restarted the computer, hoping that the timer would appear in the taskbar. No such luck, though.

I've installed gnome-shell-timer. How do I launch it?

While we're on this topic, here's my survey of Linux timer applications that I've tried recently:

  • pomodoro timer installs easily, and it's effective. BUT, it runs in its own window instead of in the taskbar. Also, it only allows you to choose "5, 15, or 25 minutes" instead of selecting whatever amount of time you want.
  • kteatime runs in the taskbar. It installs with apt-get, and it can be launched with kteatime &. BUT, it doesn't actually display a countdown, and it sometimes loses my settings when I restart it.
  • I used to use timer-applet on an earlier Ubuntu version (perhaps 10.04), perhaps running some version of Gnome desktop. However, when I try to install timer-applet on my current machine, there are a bunch of "uninstallable" dependencies like python-gnome2-desktop.
  • gnome-shell-pomodoro (not to be confused with pomodoro timer) runs in the taskbar, and it looks great in pictures. Based on the dependency errors I get when trying to apt-get install, gnome-shell-pomodoro is a wrapper around timer-applet.

Thanks to this SuperUser thread for introducing me to some of these apps.


6 Answers 6


Tomate seems to have everything you want, it's fairly simply and focused on pomodoros, but you can choose the lengths of the work and break times, and you can get it to hide into the taskbar: https://launchpad.net/tomate

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stvs/tomate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tomate

(By the way, this info was taken from here: https://askubuntu.com/a/190675/18478.)

  • Just installed, seems great. Only thing missing is the timer counting down in the panel/taskbar (what is the name of that thing in Unity?) when in hidden state. Currently only shows a tomato symbol with a clock-like completion overlay. Oct 31, 2013 at 7:40
  • The icon in the panel/taskbar is called an indicator on unity. You've got a lot of indicators available by the way : itsfoss.com/best-indicator-applets-ubuntu
    – matthieusb
    Aug 8, 2017 at 14:06

There is an explanation on how to activate the extension in the source readme file (just scroll down to "Enable the extension using gnome-tweak-tool ..." at https://github.com/olebowle/gnome-shell-timer

Unfortunately, I dont't understand how to use the gsettings in my terminal. Would like to get it to work, too :)


There is also Alarm Clock

sudo apt-get install alarm-clock-applet
alarm-clock-applet &

The look of the panel:

picture of panel

And configuring an alarm/timer..

enter image description here

It seems to do everything I need it to.

  • 404 on that link now
    – froderik
    Feb 8, 2016 at 8:08
  • Just updated the URL... Feb 9, 2016 at 8:12

You probably just need to add the applet to the panel. I am not running gnome at the moment but it should be something like Right Click on the panel => "Add applet to panel" or "Panel properties" or similar.


What about kalarm? It has a high level of customizability, and I think you can show time as a tooltip at least.

  • The OP may not want to install all of kalarm's dependencies (kdelibs is a big package).
    – BenjiWiebe
    Jan 31, 2013 at 15:03
  • It installed well on my Ubuntu 12.10 w/Unity, but I got a bug similar to this.
    – Sveinns
    Jan 31, 2013 at 15:34
  • 1
    I am just saying that some people would rather install apps that use the current desktop's libraries, instead of having to install the libraries for another desktop.
    – BenjiWiebe
    Jan 31, 2013 at 16:27

I struggled quite a bit with getting it running too. Open the gnome-tweak-tool (run from terminal or use the 'advanced option' through gnome).

Go to Shell Extensions, and click on Timer Extension (don't expect it to be at the bottom).

It will now appear up top in gnome, near the volume controller, hope this will help others struggling to get the program running.

  • The OP was asking for Unity though... ? Oct 31, 2013 at 7:40

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