Supercharge Your Desktop With Kupfer

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 01, 2013

Gnome-Do was once my application launcher of choice, but soon after I adopted it the project seemed to go stale. Luckily, a new project has stepped up to fill the void, and so far I'm impressed. Kupfer has all the feature I'm looking for, and a fantastic Python API for easy expansion.

Kupfer is another clone of the popular OS X application Quicksilver. At it's most basic level, Kupfer is an application launcher, but if that were all that it did there would be little sense in running it. The function of launching applications, once the domain of the quicksilver clone category of apps, has made it's way into to the main desktops. Unity, Gnome, KDE, and their respective derivatives all have basic app and file launching support, but none are quite as full featured as Kupfer. The main benefit of a keyboard launcher is the expandability of its feature set. In fact, launching applications is one of my least used features of Kupfer. For example, here are a few things I use it for every day.

Web Search: You are using DuckDuckGo, right? DuckDuckGo is my search engine of choice, and Kupfer comes packaged with a plugin for it. With Kupfer, I hardly think about the process of searching, and instead let my fingers do the work to get what's in my brain into the computer as fast as possible. True, I did just write a little python script to do the same thing, but this is far more elegant, and provides a single unified interface for the start of an interaction with my computer.

SSH Connections: I'm a sysadmin, so secure shell is the meat and potatoes of what I do all day. The faster I can launch a shell to a server the better. Kupfer includes a plugin indexes ~/.ssh/config to load servers into its catalog. I normally do not use this file, but since I always have a plain text list of servers, creating it was a quick awk command away. Just format the file as:

Host Host 

Then, when you need to get to one of your servers, just invoke Kupfer and start typing the name of the server. Kupfer will autocomplete the name, and as soon as you see the server you need to get to, hit return and Kupfer will launch a terminal session to the server.

Appending text file: It is good practice to keep a running log of what you are doing throughout the day. Whenever I get a phone call, chat, or any other event that I need to make a note of, I launch Kupfer, hit period to enter text mode, type my note, hit tab, choose "Append To...", hit tab again, and choose my log.txt file. I also like use this trick for updating a grocery list on dropbox. Incredibly handy.

There are several other plugins available for Kupfer, and with the simple Python API, I can imagine many more on the way. Kupfer is super useful, and a tool that I'm hoping catches on and stays active. If you have a clever use for Kupfer, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!