Monitor ‘Zeitgeist’ Logging Activities in Ubuntu using ‘Zeitgeist Explorer’

Zeitgeist‘ is a computer based user activity logging framework for the GNU/Linux operating system that keeps a track of your frequently opened files (text, audio, videos etc), visited web links, conversations that you had with others (through ‘Chat’ apps) etc.

The database is a semantic one and so it makes it easy to identify patters, thus improves the ability to predict user activities. And since this database can be accessed by other applications (if they support ‘Zeitgeist’), they can predict or guess the user’s needs more accurately and thus improving the user experience.

For example, when you search for files/folders in ‘Dash’ (in ‘Unity’ desktop), it uses Zeitgeist’s database for sorting out your most frequently used files & folders so it can match your search query more accurately and at the end, you’ll be able to open your desired file/folder faster.


Anyhow, with data logging comes the privacy concerns and until recently, there was no option to enable/disable or exclude ‘Zeitgeist’ from logging certain user activities. But thanks to the ‘Activity Log Manager’, one can now do things like blacklisting certain file types or applications.

Still, there wasn’t any tool available for the end-users that enables them to ‘read’ the log or the activity index. But ‘Zeitgeist’ developers has released a tool called ‘Zeitgeist Explorer’ and it does just that.

This tool however, is still in its early development, so not everything is fully implemented. For example currently it only shows the activities as they take place (live) but a feature for viewing the existing database is planned as well.

So currently there is very little use of it for the most users, but if you want, then you can follow the below steps for installing it on Ubuntu 12.10.

Step 1:

First download the latest version from here. It’s compressed, so once the download completes, extract its content to somewhere (say to your ‘Home’ folder).

Step 2:

Then open your Terminal window and enter the below command (this will install few packages that are required before we can install it).

sudo apt-get install python-distutils-extra

Step 3:

Then use the ‘cd’ command and go into the extracted folder & enter the below command to install it.

sudo python install

It doesn’t show up in ‘Dash’, so whenever you want to run it, press ‘Alt’ + ‘F2’ keys and then type the below command and press ‘Enter’.


That’s it.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

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