Graham searches for the best new free software


One of the most common complaints leveled against systemd is that it's difficult to understand and edit, especially when you're used to your system booting off a series of easily editable scripts. Which is why it's surprising there aren't more visual systemd editors for the entire system. There was one editor, though, and that was an extra KDE settings panel that could be installed. Unfortunately, because it was a KDE settings panel, you obviously needed to be running KDE. But the author has now updated the panel concept with a fully fledged Qt/KDE application, complete with menus, toolbars, and a new name. It's still KDE-based, but hopefully not riddled with huge dependencies if you want to run this on an alternative desktop.

SystemdGenie offers the same features as the old panel. Each of systemd's units is visible in a huge list that can be filtered, searched, and sorted. You can enable or disable a unit, start or stop a unit, and edit a unit's configuration file using SystemdGenie's integrated text editor. This is all simple enough to do on the command line if you know what you're doing, but doing the same within a GUI feels far more refined and will give some users that extra confidence to make changes without remembering systemd's often convoluted syntax. There are extra tabs for global configuration files, user sessions, and timers. Admittedly, none of this is going to make systemd any easier to use if you don't already have a good idea of what you're doing and want to accomplish, but the colored visual feedback and searching is very useful. I'd love to see extra features such as automatic version control or backup, but even when you don't change anything, SystemdGenie gives a great overview of what's running on your system.

Project Website

If you don't like systemd, you might like SystemdGenie.

Music Player

Kaku 1.8.5

Plenty of audio players attempt to make online music as accessible as local music files. But with recent releases, Kaku has become one of the few to make the concept work. It succeeds because it's simple and easy to use, requiring no configuration tinkering or weird dependencies. It's even available as an AppImage, which means it can be run without installing anything if you're prepared to accept a static binary running from an untrusted source – the latest release will also update itself automatically. When run, Kaku looks like an old version of Apple's iTunes, complete with colored window control icons and a complete disrespect for your chosen window manager, but it works brilliantly. Enter a search term and click play on one of the results. You'll hopefully hear what you were looking for. The default search destination is YouTube, but you can change this to SoundCloud, Vimeo, or All, which aggregates the results from all three. You can also choose which country code to use to rank the results, and whether you want to prioritize results from a video or audio-only search. As this is an audio player, video isn't supported, but the audio is played automatically and transparently, regardless of whether Kaku is ripping the audio or not. This is a fantastic feature considering the kind of rare or live material you find on sites like YouTube, where it can often be the only source for such material. You often forget this music is streaming from predominately video sources. You can then use any results to populate your own playlists and play queue, just as you would with your own music or a service like Spotify. The only downside is that those sources can change or disappear, just like they can with a browser, except Kaku is much nicer to use.

Project Website

Kaku is much better than its name implies.

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