Linux Power Tools - Great Tools to Make System Administration Easy

World War II - Germany decided to attack Poland. Poland had many great warriors. They all prepared to fight the Germans. They were all ready with the best armor, the best and well trained horses, and ofcourse the best weapons , swords , spears .... And the Pols were brave and were ready to give their lives for their country. Sadly they did just that... give their lives. The Germans had tanks... It is very important to have the right weapons when one goes for a war.

In the same way it is very important for system administrators to have the right tools to to work smart. Linux is a great desktop OS for developers as well as system administrators. Let us take a look at some of the utilities which makes this a great environment for system administrators and developers. Most of the content below is taken from the home pages of these apps and the I make no claims on the originality. My aim is to introduce the reader to the wonderful tools that are available in a Linux/BSD desktop environment.

Konsole

Let's start from what most people think Linux is all about - a text based shell. Konsole is what is known as an X terminal emulator, often referred to as a terminal or a shell. It gives you the equivalent of an old-fashioned text screen on your desktop, but one which can easily share the screen with your graphical applications. What makes Konsole special? Konsole's advanced features include simple configuration and the ability to use multiple terminal shells in a single window, making for a less cluttered desktop. Konsole is also available as kpart and can thus be easily embedded in other applications, like practiced by Kate and Konqueror.

As most system administrators need log into servers on a regular basis the konsole gives them a benefit over the Windoze command prompt. In windows one needs to use a program like putty to log in using SSH. Also as linux is the desktop OS the techs can use the man pages on the local system.

One can also try out the various commands locally. Consider a simple example.

Is it

$ ln sourcefile destinationfile

or is it

$ ln destinationfile sourcefile

Such things can be easily found out locally without carrying out experiments on the server. Many techs believe that servers are places where they can experiment. However, such experiments can lead to major losses to the customers due to one small error. A system administrator must understand that people have immense faith in them when they give their entire data to them and they cannot risk carrying out simple experiments on servers.

Some screenshots of the konsole can be seen at the konsole site

Personal Information Manager / Groupware

There are two popular choices here. Evolution from Novel and the Kontact from KDE. Both these an email client, calendaring, meeting scheduling, a task list, contact management and syncing functionality. Kontact is essentially the regular KDE PIM components which have been put in together i.e. kmail, korganizer, knotes etc.. It is very a very neat package and is stable and light. Both these are very functional and can connect to many groupware servers.

Klipper

Klipper is the KDE clipboard utility. It stores clipboard history, and allows you to link clipboard contents to application actions. Klipper can perform actions on the contents of the clipboard, based on whether they match a particular regular expression. For example, any clipboard contents starting with "http://" can be passed to the web-browser as URLs to open.

Copying text is as simple as highlighting the text. And to paste the text all one needs to do is click on the center mouse button. This can be particularly useful for sys-admins as they use a sequence of commands from time to time. Having these in the clipboard and using them often can make the work a lot easier.

Gaim / Kopete

Communicating via an instant messenger is an essential these days. Linux has a very clean solution for this. Both Kopete (http://kopete.kde.org) and Gaim (http://gaim.sourceforge.net/) are capable of handling multiple IM protocols such as supporting AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Lotus SameTime. Gaim is a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) client for Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows. It is compatible with AIM and ICQ (Oscar protocol), MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, SILC, GroupWise Messenger, and Zephyr networks.

Kjots

KJots is a small program that helps you to write down some short notes and organizes them for you. It has two basic items used to organize your notes - "Books" and "Pages". This is a good light tool to write in all the templated responses and other important notes for quick references.

Kwallet

A lovely password manager which can store passwords for all the logins including those of kopete and websites.

Tea Cooker

KTeaTime is a handy timer for steeping tea. No longer will you have to guess at how long it takes for your tea to be ready. Simply select the type of tea you have, and it will alert you when the tea is ready to drink. Now how can a tea cooker be useful for techs. Often techs get involved in solving a problem and forget to update the client about the progress. Without communicating with the client, on many occasions the entire effort goes down the drain as the client get very agitated thinking that nobody is looking at his problem. What the tech can do is use the tea cooker and get a reminder so that he can respond the client with the progress.

Koffice/ Open Office

M$ Office is one of the most used software and a major reason why customers do not shift to other operating systems. They need Word and Excel for just about everything. K-Office and Open Office are two great solutions. Open Office can open M$ Office files and can even safe the files in M$ Office format which makes it easy to communicate with those who still use M$ products.

Lyx

Besides office suites which replicate the windows world products in features, Linux also has some great alternatives. LyX (http://www.lyx.org) is an example of a great document processor.

What is LyX?

LyX is the first WYSIWYM (What you see is what you mean) document processor.

LyX is what?!

LyX is an advanced open source document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents, not their appearance. LyX lets you concentrate on writing, leaving details of visual layout to the software. LyX produces high quality, professional output -- using LaTeX, an industrial strength typesetting engine, in the background; LyX is far more than a front-end to LaTeX, however. No knowledge of LaTeX is necessary to use LyX, although it will give a user more power. LyX is stable and fully featured. It has been used for documents as large as a thesis, or as small as a business letter. Despite its simple GUI interface (available in many languages), it supports tables, figures, and hyperlinked cross-references, and has a best-of-breed math editor.

Dia

Dia is a great tool for creating diagrams. It has a huge in-built library of objects which are specially useful for software engineers. So making a diagram of a computer network is as easy as dragging a few computers and switches from the list of objects available. It currently has special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and simple circuits. It is also possible to add support for new shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG to draw the shape.

Gnucash

An average tech earns a good salary and spends it is well too. To keep track of all these personal expenses the best is to have a great software. Gnucash is an ideal way to manage personal finances. Designed to be easy to use, yet powerful and flexible, GnuCash allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses. As quick and intuitive to use as a checkbook register, it is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports.

KTuberling

And finally a product for all those techs who maintain their servers well and have no work or pending issues and yet have to sit through the nights waiting for some issue to popup.

KTuberling (http://opensource.bureau-cornavin.com/ktuberling/) was originally game intended for small children. Of course, it may be suitable for adults who have remained young at heart. Most techs in general love this software. It is a "potato editor". That means that you can drag and drop eyes, mouths, mustache, and other parts of face and goodies onto a potato-like guy. Similarly, you have a penguin and an aquarium on which you can drop other stuff.

There is no winner for the game. The only purpose is to make the funniest faces you can. There is a museum,like a "Madame Tusseau" gallery, where you can find many funny examples of decorated potatoes, penguins and aquariums.

World War II - Germany decided to attack Poland. Poland had many great warriors. They all prepared to fight the Germans. They were all ready with the best armor, the best and well trained horses, and ofcourse the best weapons , swords , spears .... And the Pols were brave and were ready to give their lives for their country. Sadly they did just that... give their lives. The Germans had tanks... It is very important to have the right weapons when one goes for a war.

In the same way it is very important for system administrators to have the right tools to to work smart. Linux is a great desktop OS for developers as well as system administrators. Let us take a look at some of the utilities which makes this a great environment for system administrators and developers. Most of the content below is taken from the home pages of these apps and the I make no claims on the originality. My aim is to introduce the reader to the wonderful tools that are available in a Linux/BSD desktop environment.

Konsole

Let's start from what most people think Linux is all about - a text based shell. Konsole is what is known as an X terminal emulator, often referred to as a terminal or a shell. It gives you the equivalent of an old-fashioned text screen on your desktop, but one which can easily share the screen with your graphical applications. What makes Konsole special? Konsole's advanced features include simple configuration and the ability to use multiple terminal shells in a single window, making for a less cluttered desktop. Konsole is also available as kpart and can thus be easily embedded in other applications, like practiced by Kate and Konqueror.

As most system administrators need log into servers on a regular basis the konsole gives them a benefit over the Windoze command prompt. In windows one needs to use a program like putty to log in using SSH. Also as linux is the desktop OS the techs can use the man pages on the local system.

One can also try out the various commands locally. Consider a simple example.

Is it

$ ln sourcefile destinationfile

or is it

$ ln destinationfile sourcefile

Such things can be easily found out locally without carrying out experiments on the server. Many techs believe that servers are places where they can experiment. However, such experiments can lead to major losses to the customers due to one small error. A system administrator must understand that people have immense faith in them when they give their entire data to them and they cannot risk carrying out simple experiments on servers.

Some screenshots of the konsole can be seen at the konsole site

Personal Information Manager / Groupware

There are two popular choices here. Evolution from Novel and the Kontact from KDE. Both these an email client, calendaring, meeting scheduling, a task list, contact management and syncing functionality. Kontact is essentially the regular KDE PIM components which have been put in together i.e. kmail, korganizer, knotes etc.. It is very a very neat package and is stable and light. Both these are very functional and can connect to many groupware servers.

Klipper

Klipper is the KDE clipboard utility. It stores clipboard history, and allows you to link clipboard contents to application actions. Klipper can perform actions on the contents of the clipboard, based on whether they match a particular regular expression. For example, any clipboard contents starting with "http://" can be passed to the web-browser as URLs to open.

Copying text is as simple as highlighting the text. And to paste the text all one needs to do is click on the center mouse button. This can be particularly useful for sys-admins as they use a sequence of commands from time to time. Having these in the clipboard and using them often can make the work a lot easier.

Gaim / Kopete

Communicating via an instant messenger is an essential these days. Linux has a very clean solution for this. Both Kopete (http://kopete.kde.org) and Gaim (http://gaim.sourceforge.net/) are capable of handling multiple IM protocols such as supporting AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo, Jabber, IRC, Novell GroupWise Messenger, Lotus SameTime. Gaim is a multi-protocol instant messaging (IM) client for Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows. It is compatible with AIM and ICQ (Oscar protocol), MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, SILC, GroupWise Messenger, and Zephyr networks.

Kjots

KJots is a small program that helps you to write down some short notes and organizes them for you. It has two basic items used to organize your notes - "Books" and "Pages". This is a good light tool to write in all the templated responses and other important notes for quick references.

Kwallet

A lovely password manager which can store passwords for all the logins including those of kopete and websites.

Tea Cooker

KTeaTime is a handy timer for steeping tea. No longer will you have to guess at how long it takes for your tea to be ready. Simply select the type of tea you have, and it will alert you when the tea is ready to drink. Now how can a tea cooker be useful for techs. Often techs get involved in solving a problem and forget to update the client about the progress. Without communicating with the client, on many occasions the entire effort goes down the drain as the client get very agitated thinking that nobody is looking at his problem. What the tech can do is use the tea cooker and get a reminder so that he can respond the client with the progress.

Koffice/ Open Office

M$ Office is one of the most used software and a major reason why customers do not shift to other operating systems. They need Word and Excel for just about everything. K-Office and Open Office are two great solutions. Open Office can open M$ Office files and can even safe the files in M$ Office format which makes it easy to communicate with those who still use M$ products.

Lyx

Besides office suites which replicate the windows world products in features, Linux also has some great alternatives. LyX (http://www.lyx.org) is an example of a great document processor.

What is LyX?

LyX is the first WYSIWYM (What you see is what you mean) document processor.

LyX is what?!

LyX is an advanced open source document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents, not their appearance. LyX lets you concentrate on writing, leaving details of visual layout to the software. LyX produces high quality, professional output -- using LaTeX, an industrial strength typesetting engine, in the background; LyX is far more than a front-end to LaTeX, however. No knowledge of LaTeX is necessary to use LyX, although it will give a user more power. LyX is stable and fully featured. It has been used for documents as large as a thesis, or as small as a business letter. Despite its simple GUI interface (available in many languages), it supports tables, figures, and hyperlinked cross-references, and has a best-of-breed math editor.

Dia

Dia is a great tool for creating diagrams. It has a huge in-built library of objects which are specially useful for software engineers. So making a diagram of a computer network is as easy as dragging a few computers and switches from the list of objects available. It currently has special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and simple circuits. It is also possible to add support for new shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG to draw the shape.

Gnucash

An average tech earns a good salary and spends it is well too. To keep track of all these personal expenses the best is to have a great software. Gnucash is an ideal way to manage personal finances. Designed to be easy to use, yet powerful and flexible, GnuCash allows you to track bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses. As quick and intuitive to use as a checkbook register, it is based on professional accounting principles to ensure balanced books and accurate reports.

KTuberling

And finally a product for all those techs who maintain their servers well and have no work or pending issues and yet have to sit through the nights waiting for some issue to popup.

KTuberling (http://opensource.bureau-cornavin.com/ktuberling/) was originally game intended for small children. Of course, it may be suitable for adults who have remained young at heart. Most techs in general love this software. It is a "potato editor". That means that you can drag and drop eyes, mouths, mustache, and other parts of face and goodies onto a potato-like guy. Similarly, you have a penguin and an aquarium on which you can drop other stuff.

There is no winner for the game. The only purpose is to make the funniest faces you can. There is a museum,like a "Madame Tusseau" gallery, where you can find many funny examples of decorated potatoes, penguins and aquariums.

Amarjyoti Krishnan heads bobcares.com, a tech support company for webhosts and ISPs. He is the co-founder of Poornam Info Vision Ltd., a software and IT services company which specializes in Linux based solutions for Webhosts and ISPs. Poornam Info Vision is an ISO 9001:2000 certified company with a team of over 100 engineers.

Amarjyoti is a Computer Engineer based in India and has over 7 years of experience in the hosting industry. He has spoken and written extensively on the subject. His articles have been published both online as well as in print in magazines.

http://poornam.com
http://bobcares.com
http://amarjyoti.com

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Next Billion-Dollar Startups 2019  ForbesForbes searched the country for the 25 fast-growing, venture-backed startups most likely to reach $1 billion in value.
Insurance company AIA fined $10000 by PDPC for personal data breach  The Straits TimesSINGAPORE - Insurance company AIA was fined $10000 by the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) for mistakenly sending 245 letters meant for ...
Goodbye, Chrome: Google’s web browser has become spy software  The Washington PostYou open your browser to look at the Web. Do you know who is looking back at you? Over a recent week of Web surfing, I peered under the hood of Google ...
Get up close and personal with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa with the Louvre's first VR experience  Evening StandardIconic Parisian museum The Louvre is marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci by teaming up with HTC Vive Arts to create a virtual ...
Dell Technologies launches new slate of laptops primed for IR4.0  Digital News AsiaNew Latitude laptops are equipped with the hardware, security and features meant to help businesses undergoing digital transformation.
Bible shortage; coffee beer; Facebook CEO’s personal security chief departs  San Francisco ChronicleKing of coffee beer? Need a jolt to go out? Pabst Blue Ribbon is introducing PBR Hard Coffee, an iced latte infused with caffeine and booze. At 5% alcohol, the ...
Samsung tears wraps off Bixby Marketplace, tens of people go wild. (One at the back whispers, 'Siri, what's Bixby?')  The RegisterMaintaining Bixby's reputation for being late and underwhelming, Samsung's digital assistant has finally got its own marketplace. "The Bixby Marketplace is a ...
‘Oversharing’ on Google Calendar, and Making Sure Readers Come Back for More  The New York TimesHow do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Jodi Rudoren, associate managing editor for audience, discussed ...
Sliding Backward on Tech? There Are Benefits  The New York TimesPamela Paul, editor of The New York Times Book Review, decided to downgrade her tech two years ago. It has worked out, with paper and DVDs instead of the ...
At $1k a page, take care when RTFM: Apple-1 documentation sells for nearly $13,000 at auction  The RegisterIf you needed a manual for your Apple-1, you've missed your chance. Some other well-heeled fanboi is 12 pages richer and nearly $13k poorer. The booklet ...
Murder! Muggings! Mayhem! How An Ex-Hacker Is Trying To Use Raw 911 Data To Turn Citizen Into The Next Billion-Dollar App  ForbesAndrew Frame may be creating the future of public safety. Or maybe he's just building a high-tech police scanner.
Europe's top court sets date for opinion on Facebook privacy - Tech News  The Star OnlineEurope's top court will give an opinion on Dec 12 on Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems' landmark case against Facebook, which will affect how hundreds of ...
My 2019 tech: Here are the computers, gadgets, and accessories I'm using on a personal basis this year — and which ones I'd recommend  Business InsiderI review a lot of new tech for Business Insider, like headphones, gadgets and accessories. But reviewing tech isn't the same thing as owning it.
18 Questions With Andrew Yang  The New York TimesWe asked Andrew Yang 18 questions on subjects including climate change and border control, fast food and personal humiliation.
The Bank of Amazon: How big tech is disrupting banking  VerdictWith the opportunity to gain even more insight into users' lives, the impact of Silicon Valley looks likely to play a key part in the future of banking.
Twitter investigating amid widespread outage  Vancouver SunPeople across the globe are reporting issues accessing Twitter.
RBI to examine concerns over data localisation rule: Government  Economic TimesThe RBI will examine concerns around its strict data localisation rules that require storing of customer data exclusively in India without creating mirror sites ...
Tech Is Changing New York, but Not How He Reports on the City  The New York TimesHow do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? J. David Goodman, a metro reporter, discussed the tech he's using.
International Personal Finance (LON:IPF) Receives Buy Rating from Peel Hunt  Tech Know BitsPeel Hunt restated their buy rating on shares of International Personal Finance (LON:IPF) in a research report report published on Monday, ThisIsMoney.Co.
Outside the U.S., It’s All About WhatsApp  The New York TimesHow do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Adam Satariano, a technology correspondent based in London, ...
Devices That Will Invade Your Life in 2019 (and What’s Overhyped)  The New York TimesA.I. that responds to your voice. Next-generation wireless networks. If this year's biggest consumer technology trends have a familiar ring, there's a reason for ...
LTU receives grant for lecture series on human implications of technology  The Oakland PressLawrence Technological University has received a $6800 grant to support a series of lectures on the human implications and effects of technology—past, ...
I Deleted Facebook Last Year. Here’s What Changed (and What Didn’t).  The New York TimesOur personal tech columnist didn't lose touch with his true friends — but strange things did occur, including Instagram thinking he was a woman.
The father of modern computing: Alan Turing's legacy  The GuardianPersonal life and substantial works of face of new £50 note have only recently been properly appreciated.
Twitter introduces new label to flag tweets from Trump, other world leaders that violate its rules  Financial PostThe label will only be used for verified accounts belonging to government officials, or those running for office, with more than 100000 followers.

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