Linux at Home - RSI

Linux at Home: Reduce and prevent repetitive strain injury

Last Updated on September 6, 2020

In this series, we look at a range of home activities where Linux can make the most of our time at home, keeping active and engaged. The change of lifestyle enforced by Covid-19 is an opportunity to expand our horizons, and spend more time on activities we have neglected in the past.

Given that we are told its our “civic duty” to avoid public transport, working at home is going to remain commonplace for a long time. Employers have a duty to assess the health and safety risks faced by their workers. An employer must systematically check for possible physical, mental, chemical and biological hazards. This inevitability entails a risk assessment. Part of this risk assessment involves ensuring that workers are protected from repetitive strain injuries (RSI).

It’s much harder for an employer to conduct a proper risk assessment in an employee’s home. They can issue guidelines, best practice, and advice. But ultimately the employee needs to ensure they don’t injure themselves when working from home. Home workers face a lot of challenges. Prolonged user of computer equipment can result in upper limb disorders, notably in the wrist or the back. RSIs are a subset of musculoskeletal disorders. It’s easy for home workers to forget to take breaks.

Fortunately, there’s excellent open source software that help to combat RSI. Here’s our recommendations.


Linux at Home - Workrave
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This is a really useful piece of open source software. It works well with my desktop environment, it’s mature software with an initial release way back in 2002, but it’s still under active development.

When it comes to software that’s designed to prevent occupational diseases, it’s really important that they are highly configurable. After all, if they become annoying, the user will just stop using it. Fortunately, Workrave has a good range of configuration options.

Featured in the image is “Miss Workrave”. She takes you through various stretching exercises. We also like that the program lets you write scripts to communicate with Workrave through D-Bus, a system for interprocess communication.

This is cross-platform software running on both Linux and Windows.

Read more about Workrave

Safe Eyes

Safe Eyes: Settings
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When you work at a computer, it is easy to forget about time. This leads to eye strain and other physical problems. Safe Eyes protect your eyes from eye strain using a simple and extensible break reminder.

Safe Eyes is another really impressive health and fitness program that ensures you don’t forget to take breaks. One of its strengths of Safe Eyes is its useful plugins.

Having used the software for a few years, we can strongly recommend this program. It genuinely has had a positive impact on our well-being.

Read more about Safe Eyes


Linux at Home - RSIBreak
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RSIBreak is another option. It displays a random picture from a collection at specified intervals for defined durations.

You can configure the pictures to show and lengths of time to show them.

You might use the breaks reminders to do some stretching exercises, for example, or as a reminder to walk away from the computer for a while.

Read more about RSIBreak

All articles in this series:

Linux at Home
AstronomyExplore the universe from your garden
Brew BeerWeave malt and hops and yeast together in unique combinations
Circuit DesignLearn to design electronic circuits
CollaboratingEdit documents collaboratively in real-time
CookingHome cooking is an activity that’s great for individuals and families
Creative WritingPen a classic novel or screenplay
Cross-stitchingA form of sewing and a popular form of counted-thread embroidery
Digital ArtPaint and draw directly onto a computer
Digital Music ProductionDigital Audio Workstations
DOOM GamingTake a break and play classic DOOM
EmbroideryCraft of decorating fabric or other materials using a needle
ExercisingKeeping fit can be a challenge with lockdown
GardeningPlan your perfect garden with these great tools
GenealogyResearch your family tree
Home SecurityCCTV solutions to protect your home
Musical InstrumentLearn to play an instrument
RSIReduce and prevent repetitive strain injury
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