Computers have become an integral part of not only ours but our kids lives, too. The testimony to this is the fact that even schools around the world are slowly but steadily switching from textbooks to digital education. With this, parents are facing an ever-increasing challenge of keeping tabs on their kids’ computer usage, at least when at home.
When we talk about controlling kids’ computer habits, there are two major aspects to it: what they do on the computer and how much time they spend on it. While both aspects are equally important, in this article we will discuss a tool – dubbed TimeKpr – that caters to the second aspect and can be used on Linux-based systems.
NOTE: the download/installation process explained in this article has been tested on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.
As the name suggests, TimeKpr is a tool that lets you track and control the access time of a user on Linux. You can limit any user’s daily usage based on a timed access duration as well as configure periods of the day when they can or cannot log in. TimeKpr shouldn’t be confused with a web blocker or activity monitor – it has a much simpler, but equally important, aim.
Download and Install
To download the TimeKpr tool on your Ubuntu box, run the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mjasnik/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install timekpr
Once done, execute the following command to run the TimeKpr tool:
Note: the tool requires administrative privileges to run – hence the use of
sudo in the command above.
How to use TimeKpr
When you launch the tool for the first time, there is a chance that you will get the following error.
This means there’s currently no normal user account on your system – the only account available is the administrator account. TimeKpr lets the administrator configure access times of normal user accounts, so you need to create at least one in order to start using the tool.
With the above-mentioned problem out of the way, here is what the TimeKpr GUI looks like.
The selected user is mentioned at the top-right while its status is mentioned in the lower half. Since there aren’t any limits or restrictions at this point, all the fields are currently open (green and unlocked) or disabled. To configure restrictions for this user, head to the “Limits & Boundaries” tab.
Here, you get two options: “Limit access by duration” and “Limit time frame.” The first option lets you just specify the number of minutes you want the user to access the system, while the second option lets you specify the time range. Each option then has a sub option that lets you apply that restriction on a per day basis.
In my case, I selected the first option and hit the Apply button at the bottom to enable the configuration. Thereafter, when I switched back to the “Status” tab, this is what it looked like.
The “Limit by access duration” field now has a red lock as its value, meaning restrictions have been set based on this configuration. Now, when the user “guest” logs in, they will be able to access the computer only for a limited time – 5 minutes in my case – and TimeKpr will periodically remind them about the time left before it logs them out automatically.
The tool also provides some other options, like the ability to add or deduct minutes from a user’s already-configured access time, as well as lock an account completely, meaning restrict it from logging in altogether. The “Clear all restrictions” option clears all the configured limits.
TimeKpr is a simple and easy-to-use tool that does what it promises. You can install it on your child’s Linux box and configure it, for example, in a way that allows your child to log in only during weekends or whenever you are around. Of course, it can’t control what your kid does in that limited time, but that’s not what the tool is meant for anyway.