Brightness Controller

Like many people who use a screen for long periods of time, I've found using the wonderful Redshift makes a marked difference in both reducing eye strain and with the mental adjustments necessary when day turns into night. In case you've not seen it, Redshift changes the color temperature of your screen to match your surroundings, and in particular, reduces the amount of blue/white light projected from your screen as dusk begins. It's the kind of feature you can now find elsewhere, from your iPhone and Android devices to Mac OS, but Redshift brought the features to open source users long before it became cool.

Brightness Controller gives you more fine-grained control over the color balance of your screen, without linking those changes to your environment. Thanks to X11's xrandr, you can quickly change the color temperature of the output from a comprehensive list of presets, including candlelight and 20000K Clear Blue Sky. Sliders also let you control the amount of red, green, and blue manually, alongside a brightness slider to adjust the overall brightness. What's even more impressive is that if you have more than one monitor, you can adjust their brightness levels separately, with up to four displays being supported in the latest beta version. You can even save and load these values as a settings file. The quality of the brightness adjustment matches that of a monitor's direct controls and yet gives much finer granularity to the overall levels. Changes of 10 or even 5 percent are never adequate when you're working in the dark, and a utility like this is a great alternative to playing with both Redshift and your monitor's menu interface.

Project Website

Forget your monitor's terrible user interface and use Brightness Controller instead.

Secure web browser

Tor Browser 7.0

Firefox is a wonderful web browser, but it's currently going through something of a transition. This is because it's partly on its way to implementing sandboxed tabs for each site you visit. This is a badly needed upgrade because many of us experience memory and performance issues with Firefox, and we all need it to remain a strong browser to keep the Internet as open as possible. But, it also means some things are currently broken. So this is a good time to look at alternatives, and you could do much worse than using the Tor browser, at least more often.

The reason why Firefox is important is because it's used as the browser foundation for vital projects like the Tor Browser, which has just hit version 7.0. The Tor Browser wraps the stable, long-term support version of Firefox (currently version 52) with the seriously capable anonymity of Tor. This means anyone can get potentially private Internet access without knowing or configuring any of the wider Tor options, which can get complex quickly. Simply download an executable of the browser, verify you have the same binary provided by Tor, and run in-place, or even better, off a live-booted USB stick. You get all the stable features of Firefox with a hopefully untrackable Internet browsing history. And what's even better about this release is that it's already using Firefox's imminent multiprocessing and sandboxing, making it faster and more secure. Tor disables WebGL2, Web Audio, Social, SpeechSynthesis, and Touch APIs so that it's much harder for sites to generate a fingerprint for you and use this to track you across pages and domains. It hardly feels like you're making a compromise, yet your Internet access is much harder to track than with Firefox alone.

Project Website

A simple slider lets you balance security versus convenience for complete control over your privacy.

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