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?

  • You could look at the Pomodoro technique software: askubuntu.com/questions/158261/… Not sure if it is customisable to set arbitrary time breaks. 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 workrave.org
    – Flint
    Apr 9 '13 at 4:47
  • @Flint: Can you change your comment to an answer? Apr 9 '13 at 4:54

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

  • 1
    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.
    – aquafunk
    Apr 9 '13 at 5:15
  • 2
    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.
    – aquafunk
    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
  • 1
    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.


Looks like DrWright is what you need.

It's not available in the main repos, but it does have a PPA (info from omgubuntu.co.uk):

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:drwright/stable 
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install drwright
  • 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

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


BreakTimer is an alternative that I've recently made. It's pretty customizable and integrates well with most desktop environments. It's available on the ubuntu software store as a snap as well as other formats here.

As you suggested would be useful - it will intelligently restart break countdowns when you come back after having been away from your computer.

It's also free and open source, with all the source available on github - http://github.com/tom-james-watson/breaktimer-app.


If you use xfce (xubuntu) the Time Out plugin does this very well.

See http://goodies.xfce.org/projects/panel-plugins/xfce4-time-out-plugin

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


You may find Safe Eyes a sexy alternative to Workrave and other similar tools.

Install Safe Eyes:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:slgobinath/safeeyes
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install safeeyes

enter image description here For more details, please check this AskUbuntu answer or the official website: http://slgobinath.github.io/SafeEyes/


Lock Screen Timer

Lock Screen Timer is a small bash script I wrote to solve this question in Ask Ubuntu: Application that will lock screen after a set amount of time for Ubuntu

To adapt for work rest periods the audible beep can be removed as it would be distracting:

#          ogg123 '/usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/phone-outgoing-calling.ogg' ;

Place a # on line to comment out the command.

The pop-up bubbles warning that screen will be locked can be changed from:

   case $MINUTES in 1|2|3|5|10|15|30|45|60|120|480|960|1920)


   case $MINUTES in 1|2|5|15|30|60|120|180|240|300|360)

Another simple change would be to not to implement the spinning pizza in the systray as shown in the link's animated screen.

A more complicated change would be a set Monday to Friday schedule for rest times. For example auto-launching by cron and locking screen at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. The advantage of this change is user won't have to key in the number of minutes until the next break. The disadvantage is the user can't key in the number of minutes until the next break.

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