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Various health reports indicate that sitting for too long working on the computer is not good for health. I need an app that can tell me to take a break, for example once every hour of continuous work.

It would be optimal if it can automatically detect how long it has been since my display was last unlocked or logged in and count from that time. When I take a break, I will lock the display and unlock it when I'm back.

Is there any such app for Ubuntu which help the user take regular breaks?

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You could look at the Pomodoro technique software:… Not sure if it is customisable to set arbitrary time breaks. – Kevin Bowen Apr 9 '13 at 3:22
Back in the GNOME2 there was an ideal integrated solution just for that right in the settings. I wonder if MATE inculdes that? – int_ua Apr 9 '13 at 3:42
there are clock arms which creates stop watch and you can reset it everytime it finishes. Search foe alarm clock in Software center – Suhaib Apr 9 '13 at 3:52
Not really answering your question but I thought this app might be useful in what you're trying to do: WorkRave – Flint Apr 9 '13 at 4:47
@Flint: Can you change your comment to an answer? – Ashwin Nanjappa Apr 9 '13 at 4:54
up vote 12 down vote accepted

WorkRave is probably what you want

Workrave is a program that assists in the recovery and prevention of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). The program frequently alerts you to take micro-pauses, rest breaks and restricts you to your daily limit.


More screenshots

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Workrave is also cross-platform, has fantastic exercise suggestions built in to help with eye fatigue, stress to the fingers, back, arms etc. Its extremely flexible (you can define break spacing and duration), keeps statistics for you, lets you postpone breaks if you're in the middle of something but still want to be reminded to take a break in a few minutes, and can be configured to lock the screen and keyboard (maybe after you've hit your self-imposed limit of skips). I also love the ability to have two separate types of breaks: one shorter and more often, and one longer but further apart. – overprescribed Apr 9 '13 at 5:15
To further address your Q, it tracks input to tell when you're actually using the computer (vs when its just sitting idle), and will automatically reset counters if you've taken a break 'naturally' (for example, if you walk away, or are on the phone etc.). Its "reading mode" can, instead, ignore these idle times and remind you to talk a break regardless of how long the computer has been idle, perfect for when you're at your desk working continuously but not necessarily typing/clicking away. Highly recommended. – overprescribed Apr 9 '13 at 5:24
Workrave is also hard or impossible to install with a full feature set, depending on whether you're trying the software center install or manually compiling. – Aditya M P Aug 8 '13 at 7:26
From software center – Ian Clark Sep 24 '15 at 9:29

You could use notify-send + crontab.

Open the terminal and run
$ crontab -e

Then paste the code below
0 * * * * DISPLAY=:0.0 XAUTHORITY=~/.Xauthority notify-send "Go take a break."
save the file and exit.

That's all. You will receive the notification Go take a break every hour. You can change the message to whatever you want.

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Looks like DrWright is what you need.

It's not available in the main repos, but it does have a PPA (info from

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:drwright/stable 
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install drwright
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Adding ppas increases security risks. Can you explain how DrWright compares to others like workrave? – nealmcb May 23 '15 at 22:38

Here is PPA for drwright, latest Ubuntu - Trusty/Utopic:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:muravjov-il/ppa 
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install drwright
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If you use xfce (xubuntu) the Time Out plugin does this very well.


To install: sudo apt-get install xfce4-time-out-plugin

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I created a small application in Go language, Timer it has no dependencies at all, just put it in your $PATH and add it in auto startup, it'll show notifications per hour and also tell you to sleep if it is a weekday and post 11PM

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