Skip to main content

Cool, but obscure unix tools

·2 mins
Kristof Kovacs
Kristof Kovacs
Software Architect & DevOps Consultant

Hello, I’m Kristof, a human being like you, and an easy to work with, friendly guy.

I've been a programmer, a consultant, CIO in startups, head of software development in government, and built two software companies.

Some days I’m coding Golang in the guts of a system and other days I'm wearing a suit to help clients with their DevOps practices.

A little collection of cool unix terminal/console/curses tools

Just a list of 20 (now 28) tools for the command line. Some are little-known, some are just too useful to miss, some are pure obscure -- I hope you find something useful that you weren't aware of yet! Use your operating system's package manager to install most of them. (Thanks for the tips, everybody!)

dstat & sar #

iostat, vmstat, ifstat and much more in one.

dstat screenshot

slurm #

Visualizes network interface traffic over time.

slurm screenshot

vim & emacs #

The real programmers editors.

vim screenshot

screen, dtach, tmux, byobu #

Keep your terminal sessions alive.

gnu screen screenshot

multitail #

See your log files in separate windows.

multitail screenshot

tpp #

Presentation (PowerPoint") tool for terminal.

tpp screenshot

xargs & parallel #

Executes tasks from input (even multithread).

xargs screenshot

duplicity & rsyncrypto #

Encrypting backup tools.

duplicity screenshot

nethack & slash'em #

Still the most complex game on the planet.

nethack screenshot

lftp #

Does FTPS. Can mirror, kinda like rsync.

lftp screenshot

ack, ag (silver searcher), pt #

A better grep for source code.

ack screenshot

calcurse & remind + wyrd #

Calendar systems.

calcurse screenshot

newsbeuter & rsstail #

Command line RSS readers.

newsbeuter screenshot

powertop #

Helps conserve power on Linux.

powertop screenshot

tig #

A console UI for git.

tig screenshot

qalc #

The best calculator. Ever. (For scripts too.)

qalc screenshot

htop, atop & glances #

Process, memory and io monitoring.

htop screenshot

ttyrec & ipbt #

Record and play back terminal sessions.

ipbt screenshot

rsync #

Keeps filesystems in sync over SSH.

rsync screenshot

mtr #

traceroute 2.0.

mtr screenshot

socat & netpipes #

Directing stuff easily in and out of sockets.

socat screenshot

iftop, iptraf & nethogs #

To see where your traffic goes.

iftop screenshot

siege & tsung #

Command line load test tools.

siege screenshot

ledger #

Terminal-based accounting package.

ledger screenshot

taskwarrior #

Todo management in the terminal.

taskwarrior screenshot

curl #

Everybodys favorite HTTP toolbox.

curl screenshot

rtorrent & aria2 #

Command line torrent downloaders.

rtorrent screenshot

ttytter & earthquake #

Nice trendy Twitter clients :)

ttytter screenshot

vifm & ranger #

Alternatives to the midnight commander.

vifm screenshot

cowsay & sl #

I just couldnt resist. :o)

cowsay screenshot

cloc #

Counts lines of code.

cloc screenshot

ipcalc #

For network assignments.

ipcalc screenshot

Discussion of this post on Hacker News ⇐ that's the place to get into nice old-school FidoNet-style flame wars about the important things in life, like whether or not tmux is better than screen, is parallel better than xargs, whether or not ifconfig is a power tool, or should this list include somebody's once-used tool for converting old Pascal code to C or something. :)