Managing time-triggered events with Zeit

Alarms and Timers

Zeit also allows you to set alarms and timers. You can access the alarms via Tools | Alarm or by pressing Ctrl+L. In the dialog box, you then need to add a description for the alarm, an audio player including the music file to be played, and the times at which you want the alarm to be triggered (Figure 4).

Figure 4: A Zeit alarm can play back sounds with a media player such as VLC.

The Timer dialog box looks almost identical to Figure 4. There is only one additional selection box, labeled Show OSD notification, for a Notification window that controls whether Zeit displays a message on the desktop when the timer expires. You can access the function via Tools | Timer or by pressing Ctrl+T.


If Zeit is not your cup of tea, there are also quite a few web-based tools that at least make it easier to create crontab entries. One candidate, crontab guru [6], lets you first formulate the entry in the web interface and then transfer the results to your system's crontab (Figure 5).

Figure 5: The crontab guru website helps to formulate the crontab entry.

I found the description above the gray input field in crontab guru very helpful because it translates the crontab specification into plain English. The gray field in the middle is an input box where you can edit the value directly, upon which the description changes. Below the input field, you will find explanations for the columns – minute, hour, day, month, and weekday – as well as the values allowed for each column.

Crontab UI [7] is a web front end used primarily for servers. The tool, written in JavaScript (Figure 6), offers extensive options. In addition to the ability to directly edit crontab entries, it provides functions for backing up the crontab and for manually starting, pausing, and terminating jobs.

Figure 6: The web-based Crontab UI is especially useful on servers.


Zeit worked without any issues in testing and integrated cleanly with my system. The entries Zeit generated for crontab and at were also flawless (Figure 7), making it a promising tool for managing the time-triggered jobs.

Figure 7: The crontab table edited with Zeit is free of errors.

The Author

Frank Hofmann works on the road – preferably from Berlin, Geneva, and Cape Town – as a developer, trainer, and author. He is also the co-author of the book Debian Package Management (

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