How to set alarm on Linux

Setting an alarm on Linux can be helpful to remind you of something or act as a timer. It might also come in handy if you take a little snooze at your desk. In this tutorial, we will show you how to set an alarm on Linux via command line and GUI.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • How to set alarm via command line
  • How to install GNOME clocks
  • How to install at command
  • How to configure alarm via GUI
Alarm clock application on Linux
Alarm clock application on Linux
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software sleep, at, GNOME Clocks
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Set alarm via command line

There is not a readily available command that can be used specifically to set an alarm, so we will need to get a little creative. Take a look at some examples below to see how a makeshift alarm can be set from the command line on Linux.

Set alarm via sleep command

The best option is going to be the sleep command, which is available by default on all Linux distros. This command allows us to pause a terminal action for any amount of time specified in seconds, minutes, hours, or days.

To really match the same experience as an alarm, you could download an alarm sound (like an .mp3 file) and have it play when the sleep command finishes its timer. Here is an example where VLC media player would open alarm.mp3 after 8 hours.

$ sleep 8h && vlc alarm.mp3

Alarm for 45 minutes:

$ sleep 45m vlc alarm.mp3

Alarm for 30 seconds:

$ sleep 30s vlc alarm.mp3

Set alarm via at command

For setting alarms at a specific time, you could use the at command. It is not ordinarilly installed by default.

You can use the appropriate command below to install at with your system’s package manager.

To install at on Ubuntu, Debian, and Linux Mint:

$ sudo apt install at

To install at on Fedora, CentOS, AlmaLinux, and Red Hat:

$ sudo dnf install at

To install at on Arch Linux and Manjaro:

$ sudo pacman -S at

After installation, you can use at to run a command at a specified time. Set at to play your alarm.mp3 file or do a similar action to get your attention at the desired time.

Set alarm for tomorrow at 8 AM:

$ at 8:00 tomorrow
warning: commands will be executed using /bin/sh
at Sun Mar 20 08:00:00 2022
at> vlc alarm.mp3
at> <EOT>
job 1 at Sun Mar 20 08:00:00 2022

Use Ctrl + D to save and confirm the at setting, or Ctrl + Z to exit and cancel.

You can view your configured alarms with:

$ at -l
1	Sun Mar 20 08:00:00 2022 a linuxconfig

Set alarm via GUI

There are various GUI programs available that will allow us to configure alarms. It would be unusual to have one installed by default, but it may be worth checking – just do a search in your desktop’s application launcher for “alarm.”

Most likely, you will need to download a third party program to configure an alarm clock via GUI. On our Ubuntu test system, we opted for “GNOME Clocks.” You can find it for installation in the Software Center application in just a few seconds:

Installing GNOME Clocks
Installing GNOME Clocks

After installation, open up the app, click on the Alarms tab, and then select Add Alarm. Use the interface to pick a date and time, and GNOME Clocks will alert you like a typical alarm clock.

Configuring an alarm clock in Linux via GUI
Configuring an alarm clock in Linux via GUI

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we saw how to configure an alarm clock on Linux via command line and GUI. Since there is no command specifically for alarm clocks, we have to create makeshift alarms with sleep and at. However, there are lots of options availale in third party applications if you are using a desktop environment GUI like GNOME.

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