Super UserWhat's your favourite piece of (Linux) software nobody's heard about?
[+34] [42] ajm
[2009-07-15 16:04:17]
[ linux software-rec tools must-have ]

The title says it all! Tools / utilities / games that I might not have heard about, but you can't live without?

It's a bit odd that the most upvoted answers are the most well-known projects... - Peltier
(6) nah, it's an inherent risk. ppl vote for what they've heard of. so really we need to flip this and make 0 votes the best answers. - quack quixote
[+40] [2009-07-15 16:19:21] bdonlan

pv [1] - progress bars in any pipeline. Very handy, but not well known.


This is brilliant and something I've tried to find before but clearly haven't been looking hard enough! - Legooolas
+1 I had this at one time, but lost it in the last reinstall and couldn't recall what it was called! Ta. - Evan
+1 Jeez, that's great! - dag729
[+25] [2009-07-19 21:06:35] Robert Munteanu

watch - execute a program periodically, showing output fullscreen.

To watch the contents of a directory change, you could use

watch -d ls -l

If you're only interested in files owned by user joe, you might use

watch -d 'ls -l | fgrep joe'

Very nice! I like how it highlights differences between "frames". - khedron
[+23] [2009-07-15 16:16:56] alexp206

htop [1] An interactive process viewer, basically a fancy version of top with easier nav/tool and fancy colors!


(7) A great tool, but pretty well-known, isn't it? - Telemachus
[+18] [2009-07-19 20:29:47] voyager

Lyx [1] it's a great document processor to write lengthy papers that look great thanks to LaTeX. It has great support for equations, and allows you to write LaTeX directly if the functionality you need (i.e. Headers and footers) is not in the interface.

Lyx document processor.

Don't know if it counts as it works on Windows and it's not that unknown.


This will come in handy - cool! - ajm
It's amazing how many of my colleagues (at a research institute) haven't heard of LyX, or even LaTeX, and are oblivious to the benefits. - sblair
[+15] [2009-07-15 16:15:25] Nikhil Chelliah

f.lux [1], a daemon that darkens the screen at night. There actually are Windows and Mac versions (with nice GUIs, too), but the program still fits your criteria. It's a little odd at first because the screen might turn yellow, rather than simply darken, at night. It works nicely, though.


That is seriously cool. - ajm
I wonder if there is a screen that can do this. :) - KovBal
+1 I'm gonna try this ASAP. - dag729
Since this is about linux: try redshift. (also, this page has reports of f.lux not uninstalling, having an auto-update connection, and triggering several antiviruses) - Tobu
[+11] [2009-09-17 10:18:30] Ilari Kajaste

meld [1] - for a very nice GUI to comparing text files. Also works with many version control systems.


Yes, it's even better than xxdiff :) - wazoox
+1, I don't think I could live without Meld. - Matthew
[+10] [2009-07-19 14:00:20] Dentrasi

Yakuake [1] (KDE)/ Guake [2] (Gnome)

Dropdown termial from the top of the screen at a keypress, Quake style.


(1) Tilda does something similar. - nagul
yakuake and guake are better, visually though - Journeyman Geek
[+10] [2009-07-16 12:05:37] nik

ssh-keygen [1] -- so many people type passwords un-necessarily
and some even push them at the command line in scripts!
There is also an on-line version [2] -- but, I am not sure if I'll trust it (maybe for test machines).

In response to the comment about password-less use of public key authentication [3].
It agree to the point and the following should be clarified.

  • If you have a group of machines (consider an enterprise with many unix workstations or say build servers) across which you have your home mounted. It is not required to enter your password every time you decide to ssh across these servers.
  • If you have test machines in the lab which you frequently login to, it would be a bother to type in your password at each such access (or, a pass-phrase in your automated script for that matter)
  • If you connect from your personal laptop to other servers, workstations, test-machines, then it should not be required to enter your password at each such access...
    • Now, here is where the critical difference starts.
    • If you think your laptop is more secure than your work login, this is the way to go,
    • But, if the laptop can be used by others, or misplaced/stolen! (which does happen once in a while), it would be prudent to use a pass-phrase with ssh-keygen on this private key.

Once you work out your security expectations, password-less public key authentication is a great help.


(1) I'm not sure what you have in mind, but passwordless use of ssh-keys is not a great idea. - Telemachus
(3) Don't forget ssh-agent! - knweiss
it's also useful when you get that annoying message full of @'s about that the host you're trying to ssh has changed the server key. you don't have to manually find/delete the line in your ~/.ssh/known_hosts, ssh-keygen -R HOST is much quicker - mykhal
[+9] [2009-07-19 14:11:07] community_owned

A game: xmoto [1].


(2) Fairly known I'd say. Anyway, +1 - voyager
[+8] [2009-07-16 12:03:01] Telemachus

I've been pushing this one pretty hard since I came across it: Pandoc [1].

Pandoc is a Haskell library for converting from one markup format to another, and a command-line tool that uses this library. It can read markdown and (subsets of) reStructuredText, HTML, and LaTeX, and it can write markdown, reStructuredText, HTML, LaTeX, ConTeXt, PDF, RTF, DocBook XML, OpenDocument XML, ODT, GNU Texinfo, MediaWiki markup, groff man pages, and S5 HTML slide shows.


[+7] [2009-10-03 04:16:16] Matthew Lock

Figlet [1], and also its bigger brother JavE [2] for creating ASCII art [3] diagrams (which being Java actually runs on most platforms).

  ______  _         _        _   
 |  ____|(_)       | |      | |  
 | |__    _   __ _ | |  ___ | |_ 
 |  __|  | | / _` || | / _ \| __|
 | |     | || (_| || ||  __/| |_ 
 |_|     |_| \__, ||_| \___| \__|
              __/ |              

alt text


[+7] [2010-06-30 21:10:08] Ken

ack [1] -- "better than grep", they claim, and it's true.


Do you know if ack-grep can perform multiline matching? - brubelsabs
I don't know, but that sounds like a great question for! :-) - Ken
[+5] [2009-09-17 10:02:57] nnyby

pssh [1]

Parallel SSH



(1) what does it do though? ;p - Journeyman Geek
(1) @The Journeyman geek: you are joking, aren't you? Anyway, just for those who don't have enough time to read it, pssh it's a handy tool for admins that have more than one machine to control over ssh. Example: you want to push a new conf to all the machines ---> pssh -h text_file_with_IPs.txt one_command_to_all_these_IPs - dag729
[+4] [2009-09-17 11:26:55] Peltier

autojump [1]. It's the fastest way to move around in your filesystem from the command line.


+1 This looks good! - dag729
[+3] [2009-09-17 10:29:40] Jonno_FTW

Bastet: bastard tetris [1]. Basically it gives you the pieces you DO NOT WANT instead of any one at random. You will spend hours in the terminal trying to get at least 10 lines in a single game, or a session for that matter.


(3) Man, that's just MEAN grin - torbengb
God i hate bastet :S but i cant stop playing! :D - artifex
(1) Just as planned - Jonno_FTW
[+2] [2009-07-15 17:05:36] Kirill

Firewall Builder [1] is a GUI firewall configuration and management tool that supports iptables (netfilter), ipfilter, pf, ipfw, Cisco PIX (FWSM, ASA) and Cisco routers extended access lists.


[+2] [2009-10-03 00:26:01] Good Time Tribe

I use xosview [1] a lot. It's very lightweight and gives me a pretty good snapshot of what the system performance is like. It could have some more detail and I don't know that I need the INTs but the load/memory/disks graphs are indispensable. I don't know how "well known" or popular it is.


[+2] [2010-06-29 19:15:47] D'Arvit

Seriously, someone hasn't said Lynx [1]?

How else would you search for solutions to your problems when you lose your GUI?


[+2] [2009-10-12 18:22:07] Paidhi

ncdu [1] - ncurses based display of disk usage.


+1 Nice (and nice website as well!) - dag729
[+2] [2009-10-12 19:40:34] wrt

unclutter. It hides the mouse pointer in X when you're not using it. Couldn't find a link off-hand, but it's in most distribution's repositories.

+1 for Unclutter "If the mouse pointer bothers you, switch to ratpoison instead!" ----- But please, repost the atool thing as another answer: this is the standard for a community wiki. - dag729
[+1] [2009-10-03 19:37:04] timepilot

mc - file manager

Quite well-known... - dag729
[+1] [2009-10-03 19:42:01] timepilot

Irssi [1] or WeeChat [2] for IRC. They are different but both are good.


[+1] [2009-10-04 03:34:41] David Wolever

dstat [1] – shows pretty statistics for disk, network, memory and CPU. I really like it when I'm load testing and diagnosing slowness.


Very nice, thank you! I've been looking for a tool to diagnose causes of machine lag -- this may be helpful! - khedron
[+1] [2010-06-29 19:49:32] AndrejaKo

Someone mentioned Lynx, so I'm going to add Links It has support for gpm console mouse and can display graphics using framebuffer! So you have in terminal a real browser with some capabilities of modern browsers.

[+1] [2009-10-03 00:49:27] Good Time Tribe

I like autossh [1] also :)


[+1] [2009-10-03 02:47:52] Teddy

mmv is old, but very useful.

[+1] [2009-09-17 12:29:52] bedwyr

Zim [1] is a lightweight, desktop-wiki. It makes taking and organizing notes quite easy.


wixi is very similar. - geek
[+1] [2009-07-15 16:10:55] tj111

Probably btnx [1], a tool for customizing and tweaking every mouse button you have (great for mouses with tons of hot keys). Plus its all GUI based for those that are afraid of the command-line.


(3) What are these mice in which you speak? Why are you letting them near your computer? - Richard Hoskins
everybody knows the plural of mouse is meeses - quack quixote
[+1] [2009-07-19 13:56:08] Lennart Regebro

GRAMPS. An excellent Genealogy software. Open Source, written for Linux. Easy to use, loads of features. And, it's Python!

I have abandoned it for a wed-based software called The Next Generation, but that's so the whole family can help out and look at the database. GRAMPS was way better though. I wish it could connect to a SQL database, that would be awesome.

[+1] [2010-10-19 21:21:24] mykhal

iftop [1], console (ncurses) network traffic monitor


[+1] [2010-10-19 22:05:21] vtest

vimprobable [1] - a lightweight web browser.


[+1] [2010-01-17 06:51:37] klingonesque

synergy [1] : Allows sharing of keyboard and mouse between computers over a network.


[0] [2011-05-10 01:08:05] community_owned

qataki [1] - shell script for handling. It's ideal for terminal env since it allows you to edit many options. I saw that somebody already mentioned f.lux so i want to mention redshift [2] too.

uzbl [3] is also on my list. It can be really good when you start using all of it's options in configuration.


[0] [2010-10-19 22:18:26] Beaming Mel-Bin

vimdiff [1] ftw. Love people's reaction when I introduce them to vimdiff after watching them diff a file. Might not be the biggest secret but many people are unaware of it.


[0] [2009-07-15 16:28:32] mas

GNU m4 [1] macro processor to produce pages for web sites from templates as well as other, more traditional, uses with make and sendmail.


[0] [2009-07-19 13:39:35] cschol

XMMS2 [1] music player with the Lxmusic [2] client.

Simplest interface, but who needs all that Amarok bloat anyway.


(1) Anyone with more than 6000 MP3s? - voyager
yes. i use amarok with mysql as the backend database though - Good Time Tribe
yes, have more than 6k mp3s. no, don't use amarok. or any music library for that matter... if i want something i search through the directories and play it in winamp. :D - quack quixote
[0] [2009-09-17 11:35:10] Hipponax43

podencoder [1]. It encodes video for iPod.


[0] [2009-09-17 11:51:36] Brian Knoblauch

Vifir - A charting tool for pilots.

[0] [2009-10-03 04:30:23] quack quixote

Ex Falso [1] (GUI music file tagger from the Quod Libet player for GTK+) and Mutagen [2] (python tagging library).

e 0.02718 [3], a tiny commandline expression evaluator. I've been using it so long I'd forgotten where it came from. Very difficult to Google.


[0] [2010-06-30 21:15:43] Telemachus

Perlbrew [1]: it's like RVM [2], but for Perl. It allows you to easily install multiple Perl interpreters tidily and switch between them quickly.


[0] [2010-01-11 05:42:17] Arkaaito

TreeLine [1]. It's the best personal database / list maker / virtual blotter I've ever seen. It may be the best personal database possible. There's now a burgeoning category of "personal information management tools"; this is still the best one. If you haven't tried it before, try it now. (Note: there's also a Windows version nowadays, but it started out as Linux software. If BSD is your primary OS, there's also a FreeBSD port, but I can't vouch for its quality as I've never tried it.)


You should also check out leo ( - geek
[-1] [2010-10-19 23:59:09] NginUS

Kernel Shared Memory [1]