Most of the alarm programs I’ve used are simple time-based alarms. You can set them to “ring” at a certain time, and then receive either a pop-up notification or have the alarm play a sound at the specified time. I recently tried out a KDE program called KAlarm that does a whole lot more. KAlarm, which is installed by default in most KDE-based distributions (as a part of the KDE PIM package), not only offers that feature, but the ability to send emails and perform tasks at the appointed time.
KAlarm is designed for KDE, but can be run in GNOME as well. This is how I tried it out, and although it had a large list of required packages (95 other packages, which amounted to more than 200 MB of hard drive space, once installed), it worked beautifully. I probably wouldn’t recommend KAlarm to a GNOME user who doesn’t have a very specific need to use KAlarm (alarm-clock does pretty much everything that KAlarm does, requires no extra packages, and takes up less than 2 MB once installed), but for KDE users needing a little more than a basic alarm utility, KAlarm is really good.
Using KAlarm is very simple. Along the top of the window, beneath the menu bar, you have options for creating the different types of alarms. These include a display alarm, a command alarm, an email alarm and an audio alarm. The display alarm includes either basic text, or text that you have input (such as text reminding you of an important meeting that starts in 20 minutes). The command alarm runs a command of your choosing. You may want to update your system every night at 3:00 AM, so an alarm set to run the Terminal commands necessary to accomplish this task could be entered. Instead of popping up a message when the time for the alarm arrives, KAlarm will open a terminal and enter the command. The email alarm and sound alarm are very similar to the text alarm, except instead of text on the screen, you get an email or hear a sound. With the sound alarm, you can choose a system beep, an audio file of your own choosing, or KAlarm can “speak” text that you choose.
You can set the display alarm to also include a sound, and is configurable to use the font and color you choose. The time factor works two ways. You can choose to have the alarm appear at a certain time, or use the “time from now” feature, which is useful if you’re doing laundry or something that will be finished a certain number of minutes from now. Alarms can also be set to repeat at an interval you set. They can run every hour, day, week, month or year, or on login to your computer.
KAlarm can also integrate with holidays for a large number of countries, and can include different sets of alarms. You can have certain alarms active and others inactive. This is useful if you use a certain type of alarm fairly often, but not regularly or often enough for it to always be on. And since you may want alarms every day but those days you don’t work, KAlarm allows you to set your working “week” which can be any number of days (not just Monday-Friday). You can exclude alarms from ringing on holidays, and for alarms that go off once per day, you can choose when the day “resets” which means you control when daily alarms happen.
Using KAlarm is simple, and yet it is a very powerful tool. It has options for users who only need to be reminded when their favorite TV show starts, and for those who use KAlarm to help remember meetings, schedule credit card payments and family events. It can be run from the Terminal or used via its graphic interface, and sits in your Status bar until it’s time to alert you. It’s a powerful program, perfect for KDE users. I mentioned the high number of required libraries necessary to install it in GNOME, and that’s true. I’d recommend something like the aforementioned alarm-clock, but KAlarm does work perfectly in GNOME and is worth a try no matter which desktop environment you use.