Seven Awesome Linux Apps

I use Linux. Not as a main operating system on either of my three physical computers (iMac, MacBook, IdeaPad) however there’s a very good chance that I have a few SSH (secure shell for the uninitiated) sessions open to various virtual servers around the country, and I’ve probably got a virtualized instance of some Linux flavor sitting in VirtualBox, or maybe even running.

As such, I’ve found that there are a few commandline utilities that will make your live better/easier if you’re working on Linux. The cool thing about the operating system is that a one-line command will generally install any of the applications I’m about to list.

Finally, my main Linux distribution is Ubuntu, even on the virtual servers. Don’t judge…it’s built on the resource-light Debian distribution, is the biggest thing on the desktop/notebook/netbook market at the moment, and seems to run stably enough in my environment. No matter how non-1337 my techie coworket at The Oredigger says I am. Seriously dude, you’re trying to run a server on Fedora? They aren’t even trying to be a server distribution.


1. bwm-ng
What it’s for: servers
What it does: displays inbound, outbound and total bandwidth on all network interfaces, in real time…useful for showing off how awesome your new server is

2. nginx
What it’s for: servers
What it does: serves static content. Lots of it. Quickly. Without using many resources. When your site is pushing a few megabytes per second in internet trafic over nginx and BitTorrent, yet using less than 150MB of memory overall…well, you get the point. Speaking of BitTorrent…

3. transmission & transmission-cli
What it’s for: everyone
What it does: BitTorrent. I won’t say it’s the fastest or the most efficient client out there (ĀµTorrent holds the honor until someone proves me otherwise) but Transmission is built into desktop Linux these days, and the commandline version (transmission-daemon once it’s installed) can push some mean bits without so much as a desktop GUI behind it. Great for servers since the lack of a server-side interface (it’s all through the simple web UI) saves tons on resources.

4. top
What it’s for: everyone
What it does: Take the Task Manager, put it on sterioids, then turn it into a retro text adventure. Whether it’s monitoring resources 300 millimeters or 300 miles away, it does a great job. As an added bonus, if you have a Mac, you get a slightly cooler version. Not talking about Activity Monitor either.

5. iwlist / iwconfig / dhclient
What it’s for: computers with WiFi (first two), computers on a network (third)
What it does: scans for (#1) and sets up (#2) wireless connectivity on your Linux laptop, all from a commandline. #3 grabs a DHCP IP address as well, all from a terminal. Quite useful when you’ve hosed your graphical segment due to an overzealous upgrade process (Jaunty Jackalopes can get out of control way too easily). Ask no more.

6. netstat
What it’s for: mostly servers, but for “normal” computers too
What it does: shows what conections are chillin’ over the inter-tubes. IP addresses, conection states, ports and all. Wondering where all those packets are going? Netstat tells all.

7. webalizer
What it’s for: servers
What it does: analyzes (potentially huge) web server log files (apache out of the box, nginx with a few configuration changes, not sure about other servers) to grab quick stats about who downloaded what when from where. It’s not Google Analytics, but there are no JavaScript tags involved either.

If you’ve got Ubuntu, any of these packages can be grabbed by typing in apt-get <app name> at a terminal near you, provided you’re signed in as root. Which you probably aren’t, so tack on a sudo to the beginning of that statement. Hope you like the apps (and the fact that you just got ten for the price of seven), and remember kids, this apt has super cow powers.

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1 comment so far

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  1. Dude, you forgot about Tea Timer! i know it’s a little oldschool (in linux terms), but how else am i supposed to know when my citron green is ready?

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