I use my Ubuntu machine both for work and for entertainment. This sometimes damages my productivity because I have access to my favorite games and other time-wasting software that doesn't contribute to my work efforts.

Google Chrome has several extensions designed to support focus for productivity. Is there something similar for the Ubuntu desktop?

  • You could try searching/asking on Software Recommendations exchange: softwarerecs.stackexchange.com
    – valiano
    Jul 18, 2018 at 17:23
  • You can dual boot. Create one installation for work, and another for entertainment. Mar 8, 2022 at 18:29
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    @ArchismanPanigrahi I don't think you have to go to that extreme. See my answer below recommending two user IDs instead of dual boot. Mar 13, 2022 at 22:57

4 Answers 4


The question could be rephrased as: "I have no self control, could you help me control myself?"

You could have two user ID's one called work and the other called play. Installed games could be assigned under ownership of user ID play who doesn't allow access to other users.

But what about the internet? There is lots of playing with facebook, twitter, adult entertainment and other websites. However at work, most of us need the internet to access sites like Ask Ubuntu and Google Search. You cannot block the internet from user work.

There is as of yet no internet rating system for "waste of time" and "good use of time" to block certain websites to user ID work. Besides at my work place going to Ask Ubuntu would be considered a waste of time but going to one of my vendors' websites or customers' websites would be considered a good use of time.

If you do have the time, and I for one don't, of filtering through millions of websites and flag them as work approved then this article would help:

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    "The question could be rephrased as: "I have no self control, could you help me control myself?"" It really can't. The question is very specifically about a tool to block software applications on Ubuntu. Most of your answer is about what the question explicitly states not to be about.
    – user56834
    Mar 15, 2022 at 11:44

Create a user which has access only to productive apps, screened through GNOME-Nanny, and switch to that user when working. GNOME-Nanny is free and has worked in that role for years.

  • GNOME-Nanny seems no longer supported. Is there a supported alternative?
    – user56834
    Mar 8, 2022 at 18:23
  • @user56834 There are 8 alternatives to GNOME-Nanny in my answer below. But I imagine there are many, many more than 8. Mar 13, 2022 at 22:58

I would use Boxes as its simple to use. Install another Ubuntu (flavour) or another gaming Linux in Boxes and when working the games are all stored in your non running games distro.
Or another option would be to use dockers where you can install Ubuntu or whatever but this is for the expert user, with the advantage that it would run faster and use less resources than a separate OS in Boxes.


The question is a little bit vague. Block only apps? Sites? For the later any of the Chromium/Chrome (or Brave, or Firefox) extensions like LeechBlock NG or Time Companion will do the job. To block websites Focus.py seems good enough.

For people who like like terminal and if the distracting app is always the same, we can send the SIGSTOP signal to its process and after a while bring it back to normal:

pkill -STOP steam; sleep 2h; pkill -CONT steam

For TUI, could be Wisdom Tree (through pip or brew).

I strongly recommend also the Pomodoro technique. There are videos, apps like GNOME Pomodoro and open source webapps.

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