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Daily Journal With Panel Launcher

I keep a daily journal because my memory is not what it used to be. I have friends who keep daily journals just because they like to write.

I use gedit for most text-related work and recently learned how to make a special panel launcher for my journal. I keep my daily journal in a folder called “office” but the month and year change, so my journal for this month is named 200908.journal or “yyyymm.journal”. Now, making a panel launcher to open a file with gedit is no big deal but I found that using “gedit /home/user/office/*.journal” in the Command portion of the launcher doesn’t work. I think this is due to the wildcard, “*”, and I will show you how to overcome this problem. Using the month and year in the panel launcher requires that you edit the launcher every month and I didn’t want to have to do that so I came up with a way to open a file from a panel launcher regardless of the file name.

Creating The Journal

Create a new text file in your desired location. I use the command line for many things so creating the journal file in a terminal is as easy as:

touch /path/$(date +%Y%m).journal

This creates a new empty file with 200908.journal as the file name – I like to keep journal entries separated by month.


Creating The Launcher

I use gnome as my desktop environment so creating a panel launcher is as follows:

  • Right click on an empty place on the panel
  • Choose “Add to Panel”
  • In the Add to Panel dialog, choose Custom Application Launcher
  • Click the Add button
  • Assign the launcher an icon with the icon button (top left)
  • Assign a Name for the launcher
  • Enter sh -c “gedit /path/*.journal” for the Command substituting your desired path for /path. This is required or the launcher will not work.
  • Add a Comment for the launcher (optional)
  • Click the OK button

You should now have a new launcher in your panel that will open any file in your desired path that has the .journal file extension. Using this method I can simply move the old journal file to my archives and make a new journal file as the months change without having to edit the panel launcher every month.

Timestamps In Journals

One of the things I like about gedit is that it allows you to customize the time stamp. This aids in locating journal entries when I have forgotten the date of a particular entry. Gedit can highlight every instance of a word in a file so it’s easy to see where one entry ends and the next one begins.

Open gedit and click Edit > Insert Date and Time. The Date and Time dialog allows you to insert from a list of pre-configured dates and times. I wanted to customize this so I ticked the radio button next to Use custom format and entered my own format. I used

TIMESTAMP %a %d %b %Y %I:%M:%S %p %Z

but you can create your own format using the information found in man date.



The above method requires that the journal file be moved and a new journal file be created as the months change, otherwise you’d be working on the same file with an old month number next month. You can automate this process with a cronjob. Please see my Crontab Tutorial for more information about how to set up a cronjob.

Once all of this is set up – less than four minutes – the user needs only click the panel launcher to edit the journal and the system maintains the journal files over time.

Happy writing 🙂