[linux-elitists] Great recent Unix software
shlomif at iglu.org.il
Mon Feb 14 09:04:00 PST 2011
On Monday 14 Feb 2011 05:46:35 Seth David Schoen wrote:
> (Originally posted to the SVLUG list, but I'm going to post here
> too because I also suspect this thread might have been on
> 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.
Stuff I can remember now:
1. valgrind - a life saver for finding bugs in C programs.
2. tmux - screen done right. It's BSDLed instead of GPLed in case it matters,
which it does to some BSD distributions, for whom the GPL is not a liberal
enough licence, but otherwise a more powerful and usable product, which I like
better than screen and would have glady used it instead of screen even if tmux
3. htop - a nicer top.
4. iotop - a top monitor for disk access.
5. ack - I agree with whoever mentioned.
6. CMake - finally a decent configuration and build system after all the time
of struggling with GNU Autotools (a.k.a GNU Autohell.). Like tmux, it's also
BSDLed, but regardless of that, much better:
I list its advantages over GNU Autohell here:
There are many other modern alternatives to GNU Autotools, including the Free
Pascal fpmake, the Python-based SCons, waf which aimed to combine the
advantages of everything, rake which is the Ruby default build-system, and
lots of other ones written in Perl, Python, Ruby etc. but I could not find
anything that I could not do with CMake with a relative ease.
7. Subversion, git, Mercurial and Bazaar are all fine version control systems
with many advantages, disadvantages, trade-offs and differences. For me it
goes something like Mercurial > Subversion > git > Bazaar where ">" is prefer
or find more intuitive. (Please don't start a holy war or point me to the "Why
git is better than X" site.).
I agree that most open-source projects should use git and/or Mercurial, but
Subversion is useful for things like games which require a lot of media files
(and have poor version control), and also see the persepctive given here:
http://blog.red-bean.com/sussman/?p=79 which I can attest to from my
Perforce is another fine choice for a centralised version control system with
some advantages and disadvantages over Subversion, but it's proprietary, comes
without a source AFAIK, and somewhat pricey (though there are far costlier
solutions out there such as IBM Rational ClearCase). I was told that Perforce
excel at giving very good, polite and friendly tech support, and that they are
still a small company (someone told me he once got a happy holiday postcard
signed by all of their employees.), that made mad coin and probably still do,
although their profits may have been diminished a bit.
If you even think of getting near BitKeeper, stop and walk the opposite way
(i.e: Mercurial or git). See http://better-scm.berlios.de/bk/ .
Another version control system to avoid is SVK, which died in an explosion,
leaving many people injured. See:
That's everything I can think about for now. For more inspiration see:
Shlomi Fish http://www.shlomifish.org/
Funny Anti-Terrorism Story - http://shlom.in/enemy
Chuck Norris can make the statement "This statement is false" a true one.
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