[svlug] Great recent Unix software

Dr. Ed Morbius dredmorbius at gmail.com
Wed Feb 16 10:49:15 PST 2011

on 19:45 Sun 13 Feb, Seth David Schoen (schoen at loyalty.org) wrote:
> Hi everybody,
> I'm writing a Unix guide for a friend.  My ongoing search for
> what to mention, together with Eric's reference to agrep here,
> reminded me of a mailing list thread from about a decade ago,
> perhaps here on the SVLUG list, where people mentioned the programs
> that they would want people to know about that had been developed
> recently and wouldn't have been a part of older Unix documentation
> (or some long-time Unix users' education).  Some examples mentioned
> at the time were ssh, screen, and rsync, all of which were invented
> or became popular in the mid-1990s.
> (It turns out screen is considerably older than the other two,
> but it didn't reach its wide popularity until later.)
> Can anyone suggest a new round of Unix software like this?  Things
> you use regularly that you wish you'd had when you started using
> Unix?  I'm particularly interested in text-mode software so I would
> exclude things like Audacity but include things like git.
> Or, what software do you install from optional packages that you're
> tempted to think should become a default part of all Unix systems?
> I think my newest example here is vipe, from GNU moreutils.

There's my set of standard "immediate adds" to any Linux box I can
influence package selection on:  ssh, vim, w3m, lftp, screen, mutt, mc,
and rsync.

About the newest tools in my bag are offlineimap and git.  Netcat/socat
have proved useful.  I've just started using 'abook' for some contact
management (on the road to getting an LDAP directory set up).  Perhaps
puppet and monit among the system utilities.

mtr, nmap, fping, grepcidr (what it sounds like), and irssi round out
much of the rest.

I should probably play with more of the newer system-monitoring tools
(atop, htop, ntop, etc.).

If I can find a /good/ virtualization tool that's easy to set up and
(ideally) compatible with VMWare images (and I'm sure they're out there,
I just haven't had the time to dea with this), that would be great.

Thing is that there's not a whole lot I'm using today that I wasn't
using 10 years ago, if not earlier, and that speaks I think to the value
and power of having a set of focused but powerful tools (a good
scripting language also goes a long way, though with sh, sed, awk, and
Perl, all standard on most systems, you're pretty well set, add in
Python or Ruby for added goodness).  That and the incremental
improvements to old friends (or drop-in replacements).  Vim would be an
exemplar of both traits here.  With occasional exceptions, I've mostly
seen refinement (rsync would be a notable exception -- though it does an
old task, it does it remarkably better than any prior method, bittorent

And while I do use a web browser very extensively (Iceweasel/Firefox)
and find some of its plugins to be quite helpful, I find very, very few
other GUI utilities/applications among my must-haves.

There's also a lot to be said that your basic computer uses really
haven't changed much in 30 years:

  - Text editing
  - Programming (for the technical types)
  - Systems administration (for the technical types)
  - Mail
  - Other communications tools (talk, IRC, Twitter....)
  - Networking
  - Accessing network-based utilities / systems
  - Data management (DBMSes in their variously relational and other

On lacking/lagging features (lagging my needs/wants rather than any
other environment particularly):

  - Command-line utilities for wireless networking management.
  - Diagnosing / troubleshooting hardware support issues.
  - Cluster management

Dr. Ed Morbius, Chief Scientist /            |
  Robot Wrangler / Staff Psychologist        | When you seek unlimited power
Krell Power Systems Unlimited                |                  Go to Krell!

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