When is a configurable user task scheduler for modern Gnome environments. It interacts with the user through a GUI, where the user can define tasks and conditions, as well as relationships of causality that bind conditions to tasks. When a condition is bound to a task, it is said to trigger a task.

When is available in source or packaged form on GitHub.


The purpose of this small utility is to provide the user, possibly without administrative credentials, the ability to define conditions that do not only depend on time, but also on a particular state of the session (e.g. the result of a command run in a shell). The same result could be achieved with scripts that periodically run commands, check the results and react accordingly, but such a simple task could result in complex sets of scripts and settings that would be harder to maintain. When was born out of need: I have been a (happy) Ubuntu user for years now, and couldn’t think of having a different desktop environment than the one provided by Ubuntu. In 14.04 LTS (the release I’m using now) the environment is consistent and pleasant. One thing I’ve noticed that has evolved in Windows is the Task Scheduler: in fact it looks more useful and usable than the usual cron daemon, at least because it allows some more options to schedule tasks than just the system time. I needed such an utility to perform some file synchronizations when the workstation is idle, and decided to write my own task scheduler targeted to Ubuntu. The scheduler runs in the background, and displays an indicator applet icon for user interaction.

It is not generally intended as a replacement to cron and the Gnome Task Scheduler, although to some extent these utilities might overlap. When is intended to be more flexible, although less precise, and to provide an alternative to more complicated solutions – such as the implementation of cron jobs that check for a particular condition and execute commands when the condition is verified. In such spirit, When is not as fine-grained in terms of doing things on a strict time schedule: the When approach is that “when a certain condition is met, then something has to be done”. The condition is checked periodically, and the countermeasure is taken subsequently in a relaxed fashion – this means that it might not occur immediately in most cases. In fact and with the default configuration, the delay could also consist of a couple of minutes in the worst case.