TimeLine: a Python-Based Timeline Creator for Linux

timeline-teaserTimeLine is a free, cross-platform timeline-creator application, written in Python, that runs natively on Linux, Mac OS X and even Windows. It will allow anyone to effortlessly create custom timelines, for any purpose they like, with many useful features like grouping of events, custom visual representation and more.

Timelines might have many uses from educational purposes, through data representation to event planning. Whatever your usage, TimeLine is a great alternative to commercially available software or any web-based online tools.


TimeLine has few dependencies. You will need Python 2.5 or greater (which should be available on most systems) and wxPython Just to be on the safe side, check what version of Python you have installed.

python -V

If the output shows 2.5 or greater, there is nothing else you need to do about it. If you see a lesser version, try updating your system. This should be as easy as

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

on Debian (and Ubuntu) derivative distros.

To check what version of wxPython you have available on your system, search for the python-wxgtk package:

apt-cache search python-wxgtk

Your output will be something like this. The number after the package name will be your version number:


On Debian 8 this should return version 3.0, while on Ubuntu 14.04 you will see version 2.8.

If it says 2.8, you should verify the minor version, as you will need Check the details with

apt-cache show python-wxgtk2.8

and search for the line where it says Version: 2.8.X.X.


In this case it is 2.8.12, so we are ready to go.

sudo apt-get install python-wxgtk2.8

Download TimeLine from sourceforge. The latest version at the time of writing was 1.6.0.

wget http://sourceforge.net/projects/thetimelineproj/files/thetimelineproj/1.6.0/timeline-1.6.0.zip

Unpack the zip file. You can do this anywhere, but it is probably best and easiest to keep it in your home directory:

unzip timeline-1.6.0.zip -d $HOME

You can now start TimeLine with:

python $HOME/timeline-1.6.0/source/timeline.py

You can also make a desktop icon or launcher that points to this command (The process would slightly differ depending on your system, DE and/or tools available).

Main features

TimeLine has a simple user interface that is easy to navigate.


If you follow the link for the “Getting started tutorial,” you will be presented with an example timeline. The events shown will explain TimeLine’s best use as you interact with them.


Its features are clean and useful. While looking very simple, TimeLine has some really advanced functionality built right into it. Its capability to manipulate


and navigate timelines


shows its real power. Still, the preferences window offers surprisingly little to tweak,


but if you are not afraid to get your hands dirty, editing the $HOME/timelineproj.cfg will allow for complete configuration of TimeLine, including easily adding keyborad shortcuts.

nano $HOME/.thetimelineproj.cfg


Creating timelines

When you start a new project, you can choose to create File, Numeric or Directory timelines, considerably extending the possible use-cases of the software.

To start a File timeline, you will need to create a .timeline or .ics file on your computer to save the timeline into. You will then be presented with an empty canvas. You can define any number of categories and subcatergories of as many levels as you like and give them distinctive colours from the “Timeline -> Edit categories -> Add menu.”


Your categories will then be displayed on the left pane.


To add an event to the timeline, double click the canvas or select the “Timeline -> Create Event” menu. The event type will be either text or numeric (according to the timeline type). You can have events over a period (with the period radio button checked) or a single point in time. If you want some events to always display on the same line, place them inside a container.


Events will display according to their starting and ending time and in relation to other events that may overlap in the colors specified by their categories.


Hovering over an event will show its description in a pop-up balloon which can also be pinned to stay open.


If you create a directory timeline, the files in that directory will be displayed in order of date created/modified and categorized by folder structure,


although this seems to have some limitations.



TimeLine is a powerful application that can help you organize and represent information in a timeline format. Besides its few flaws, TimeLine’s main functionality, that is creating and displaying custom text-based timelines, works flawlessly. If you need a lightweight easy and straightforward timeline creator application for Linux, you need not look any further.

Attila Orosz
Attila Orosz

Attila is a writer, blogger and author with a background in IT management. Using GNU/Linux systems both personally and professionally, his advice stems from 10+ years of hands on experience. In his free time he also runs the popular Meditation for Beginners blog.

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