Top 4 Terminal GUI Applications

Written by BinnyVA on June 19, 2009 – 1:19 am -


Terminal GUI Apps? Does sound oxymoronic doesn’t it? Well, there are GUI apps in the terminal – and here is a tribute to ones that I find most useful…

top/htop – Process Viewer

From the man page…

The top program provides a dynamic real-time view of a running system. It can display system summary information as well as a list of tasks currently being managed by the Linux kernel. The types of system summary information shown and the types, order and size of information displayed for tasks are all user configurable and that configuration can be made persistent across restarts.

I always have a processor load displaying applet(System Monitor) in my panel. Whenever I see a spike, I fire up a console and type in the top command – its very useful in finding which process is creating the load. Usually, it is some cron job like updatedb or makewhatis. But occasionally, I find a zombie processes this way.

htop is, for the lack of a better word, a better top. It provides a more colorful display(top has a color mode as well – open top and press ‘z’). It also makes it a bit more easier to kill processes.


mc – File Manager

mc(or Midnight Commander) is a file manager. Sure you can cp and mv your files around, but after a while, it gets tiring. mc is a dual pane file manager -it means you can see two folders at the same time. You can copy/move files from one to the other, delete, rename, view file etc – in short, everything a file manager is expected to have, mc has.


mpg123 – Audio Player

I am not writing too much about this – considering the fact that I have already wrote a post about mpg123/mpg321 in the audio player series.


aptitude is a ncurces based GUI for the apt package manage – as a result, this is only available in Debian based systems(Ubuntu, Knopix, etc.). I have not yet seen anyone using aptitude – if they have a GUI system, they use synaptic – and if they are comfortable with the command line, they use apt-get command. But still, there is a middle ground – if for some reason you need it.


Thanks to Rajesh for the aptitude screenshot.

Anything Else?

Any other Terminal GUI application? I can only think of these at the moment. If you can think of others, comment.

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Posted in Applications, Command Line, Reviews, Tools | 12 Comments »

Free eBook – Linux 101 Hacks

Written by BinnyVA on February 15, 2009 – 11:09 pm -

Linux 101 Hacks eBook

Ramesh, who blogs at The Geek Stuff have released a free eBook ‘Linux 101 Hacks‘. Go download it – if you haven’t done it already.

About the Book

There are total of 101 hacks in this book that will help you build a strong foundation in Linux. All the hacks in this book are explained with appropriate Linux command examples that are easy to follow.

Its kinda like my txt site on Linux Commands – except for the fact that the explanation on the book is much better than my site.

Here is a copy-paste of the table of contents for the book.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Powerful CD Command Hacks

  • Hack 1. Use CD PATH to define the base directory for cd command
  • Hack 2. Use cd alias to navigate up the directory effectively
  • Hack 3. Perform mkdir and cd using a single command
  • Hack 4. Use “cd -” to toggle between the last two directories
  • Hack 5. Use dirs, pushd and popd to manipulate directory stack
  • Hack 6. Use “shopt -s cdspell” to automatically correct mistyped directory names on cd

Chapter 2: Date Manipulation

  • Hack 7. Set System Date and Time
  • Hack 8. Set Hardware Date and Time
  • Hack 9. Display Current Date and Time in a Specific Format
  • Hack 10. Display Past Date and Time
  • Hack 11. Display Future Date and Time

Chapter 3: SSH Client Commands

  • Hack 12. Identify SSH Client Version
  • Hack 13. Login to Remote Host using SSH
  • Hack 14. Debug SSH Client Session
  • Hack 15. Toggle SSH Session using SSH Escape Character
  • Hack 16. SSH Session Statistics using SSH Escape Character

Chapter 4: Essential Linux Commands

  • Hack 17. Grep Command
  • Hack 18. Find Command
  • Hack 19. Suppress Standard Output and Error Message
  • Hack 20. Join Command
  • Hack 21. Change the Case
  • Hack 22. Xargs Command
  • Hack 23. Sort Command
  • Hack 24. Uniq Command
  • Hack 25. Cut Command
  • Hack 26. Stat Command
  • Hack 27. Diff Command
  • Hack 28. Display total connect time of users

Chapter 5: PS1, PS2, PS3, PS4 and PROMPT_COMMAND

  • Hack 29. PS1 – Default Interaction Prompt
  • Hack 30. PS2 – Continuation Interactive Prompt
  • Hack 31. PS3 – Prompt used by “select” inside shell script
  • Hack 32. PS4 – Used by “set -x” to prefix tracing output

Chapter 6: Colorful and Functional Shell Prompt Using PS1

  • Hack 34. Display username, hostname and current working directory in the prompt
  • Hack 35. Display current time in the prompt
  • Hack 36. Display output of any command in the prompt
  • Hack 37. Change foreground color of the prompt
  • Hack 38. Change background color of the prompt
  • Hack 39. Display multiple colors in the prompt
  • Hack 40. Change the prompt color using tput
  • Hack 41. Create your own prompt using the available codes for PS1 variable
  • Hack 42. Use bash shell function inside PS1 variable
  • Hack 43. Use shell script inside PS1 variable

Chapter 7: Archive and Compression

  • Hack 44. Zip command basics
  • Hack 45. Advanced compression using zip command
  • Hack 46. Password Protection of Zip files
  • Hack 47. Validate a zip archive
  • Hack 48. Tar Command Basics
  • Hack 49. Combine gzip, bzip2 with tar

Chapter 8: Command Line History

  • Hack 50. Display TIMESTAMP in history using HISTTIMEFORMAT
  • Hack 51. Search the history using Control+R
  • Hack 52. Repeat previous command quickly using 4 different methods
  • Hack 53. Execute a specific command from history
  • Hack 54. Execute previous command that starts with a specific word
  • Hack 55. Control the total number of lines in the history using HISTSIZE
  • Hack 56. Change the history file name using HISTFILE
  • Hack 57. Eliminate the continuous repeated entry from history using HISTCONTROL
  • Hack 58. Erase duplicates across the whole history using HISTCONTROL
  • Hack 59. Force history not to remember a particular command using HISTCONTROL
  • Hack 60. Clear all the previous history using option -c
  • Hack 61. Substitute words from history commands
  • Hack 62. Substitute a specific argument for a specific command
  • Hack 63. Disable the usage of history using HISTSIZE
  • Hack 64. Ignore specific commands from the history using HISTIGNORE

Chapter 9: System Administration Tasks

  • Hack 65. Partition using fdisk
  • Hack 66. Format a partition using mke2fsk
  • Hack 67. Mount the partition
  • Hack 68. Fine tune the partition using tune2fs
  • Hack 69. Create a swap file system.
  • Hack 70. Create a new user
  • Hack 71. Create a new group and assign to an user
  • Hack 72. Setup SSH passwordless login in OpenSSH
  • Hack 73. Use ssh-copy-id along with ssh-agent
  • Hack 74. Crontab
  • Hack 75. Safe Reboot Of Linux Using Magic SysRq Key

Chapter 10: Apachectl and Httpd Examples

  • Hack 76. Pass different httpd.conf filename to apachectl
  • Hack 77. Use a temporary DocumentRoot without modifying httpd.conf
  • Hack 78. Increase the Log Level temporarily
  • Hack 79. Display the modules inside Apache
  • Hack 80. Show all accepted directives inside httpd.conf
  • Hack 81. Validate the httpd.conf after making changes
  • Hack 82. Display the httpd build parameters
  • Hack 83. Load a specific module only on demand

Chapter 11: Bash Scripting

  • Hack 84. Execution Sequence of .bash_* files
  • Hack 85. How to generate random number in bash shell
  • Hack 86. Debug a shell script
  • Hack 87. Quoting
  • Hack 88. Read data file fields inside a shell script

Chapter 12: System Monitoring and Performance

  • Hack 89. Free command
  • Hack 90. Top Command
  • Hack 91. Ps Command
  • Hack 92. Df Command
  • Hack 93. Kill Command
  • Hack 94. Du Command
  • Hack 95. lsof commands.
  • Hack 96. Sar Command
  • Hack 97. vmstat Command
  • Hack 98. Netstat Command
  • Hack 99. Sysctl Command
  • Hack 100. Nice Command
  • Hack 101. Renice Command

About the Author

Ramesh Natarajan is the blogger behind The Geek Stuff. To know more about him and the site, take a look at the about page.

This is what he has to say about himself…

My name is Ramesh Natarajan. I live in Los Angeles, California. I have been adding 1’s and 0 ’s for more than 15 years in the IT industry. I am very much interested in anything that runs on electricity. I have done intensive programming on several languages and C is my favorite. I have done lot of work on the infrastructure side in Linux system administration, DBA, Hardware and Storage (EMC).

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Posted in Command Line, News, Reviews | 5 Comments »

KDE 4.2: Stable and Shiny

Written by BinnyVA on February 6, 2009 – 12:59 am -

KDE Logo

I have upgraded my laptop(Kubuntu 8.10) to KDE 4.2. And all is well. The laptop did not, I repeat, did not explode. As a matter of fact, its been on KDE 4.2 for the last whole week – I never got to write anything about it because of my busy schedule. For the rest of the article, I have to write ‘KDE 4.2’ lots of time. To save some time, I am going to short it to 42. Seems appropriate. So when ever you see ’42’, mentally replace it with ‘KDE 4.2’

42 looks good. And by ‘looks good’ I don’t mean all those fancy effects. I mean it’s usableunlike its 4.x predecessors. You can actually get things done on it. You don’t have to hit save every other second because you know that the inevitable crash is just around the corner. 42 fixes most of the glaring errors in the earlier releases.

And it does look good – yes, visually this time. They really got into gradients and shadows in this release. Lots of fancy effects as well. Some of them are actually useful, to my surprise. Usually, I just ignore the shiny things – but the ‘Present Windows’ mode have changed my mind. It is a effect that actually has a use. To enable it, go to System Settings > Desktop > Desktop Effects. Now set the ‘Effect for Switching Windows’ to Present Windows.

For all you screenshot fans, here is a nice one…

KDE 4.2 Screenshot

Still, I have some complaints…

Missing Widgets/Plasmoids/Whatever

Command Widget
I want a input area in my panel that can be used to execute commands. The new Run dialog is useless for this purpose.
Bookmark Widget
In the old KDE, there was an option to add the Konqueror bookmarks to the panel – this was very, very useful for me. I cannot find this in the new version.

I am not really worried about these – I am sure the KDE team will add these soon. If they fail, there is always If they don’t have one, well, I could always write one myself. Tinkerability is one of the main reason I love FOSS!


There is still a few bugs left – and for some reason, most of the bugs I notice seems to be in the panel side.

I have two panels – the bottom(with taskbar, system tray, pager, etc) and top panel(clock, quick launch, etc). Unfortunately, my top panel is having a lot of troubles. I cannot position the icons correctly – some widgets(like clock, quick launch, etc.) try to take up way more space that they actually need.

Also the folder view desktop mode seems to have a problem remembering the icon positions.

Again, not too worried – nothing big enough to cause me any trouble.

Kinda Crashy

Even though 42 is much more stable than 4 or 4.2 beta(Nightly neon) its still has a long way to go before it can reach the reliability of KDE 3.5. Still, since I am working on a laptop and not on a server, 42 is more than enough.

Anyway, whenever 42 crashes on you, use this mantra, as I do. Just tell yourself…

It could be a lot worse – I could be using Windows

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Posted in KDE, Opinion, Reviews, Ubuntu | 9 Comments »

XOSL Boot Loader: An Alternate for GRUB

Written by BinnyVA on January 15, 2009 – 10:49 pm -

If you have a dual boot system, most of you will be using GRUB as the boot loader – since its the default boot loader. A smaller number will be using LILO – an older software. I use neither – I choose XOSL – or eXtended Operating System Loader as my primary boot loader.

Just to be clear – I do use GRUB – as a secondary boot loader. XOSL is not capable of loading Linux kernel – all it can do is call a loader that is capable of doing that – and GRUB is capable of doing it. So you have to install two software instead of just one – but XOSL is worth it.


  • Real GUI Interface
    • Mouse Interaction
    • Shortcuts
    • High resolution – more than 1024×768 supported
  • Timed default OS Loading
  • Easily Configurable
  • Flashy GUI Effects – I hate it – but I am sure the Compiz fans will love it
  • Built in Partition Manager

All this without loading an OS!

The advantage of installing this is you get a boot loader that looks better and is more easier to use than GRUB. All the configuration can be done in the bootloader itself – you don’t need to edit the files. Also you can assign shortcuts to each OS you have – so you can press, say, ‘w’ and boot into windows – rather than stopping the loader, selecting an OS from the menu and then loading it.

Another advantage is that XOSL is easier to install compared to GRUB. If you have to reinstall windows, that will remove GRUB. You might be able to install GRUB after that – but if you have gone through the process, you know its not an easy one. The process of installing XOSL is much easier. You would need a ‘Live’ DOS CD/DVD(Like FreeDOS). Just boot into it and run the installer in DOS mode.


  • Installation requires a FAT32 partition(NTFS and Linux file systems not supported)
  • Development has stopped

That means your ‘C:’ drive should be FAT32 – not NTFS. Or, you need a separate dedicated FAT32 partition(with 1 or 2 MB space) for XOSL to work.


Here is how XOSL looks like…

More Screenshots…


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Posted in Applications, Opinion, Reviews | 16 Comments »

Dell Vostro A840 Laptop and Linux

Written by BinnyVA on December 3, 2008 – 11:59 pm -

A few days ago, I bought a Laptop – the Dell Vostro A840. Specs…

  • Intel Dual Core
  • 1 GB RAM(I upgraded to 2 GB)
  • 120 GB Harddrive
  • OS: Preloaded with Ubuntu 8.04

Since its preloaded with Ubuntu, every thing worked without much problem. Wifi autoconnects, display look good, all the laptop specific buttons work without any problem(did not check suspend/hibernate). So what’s my next step? Uninstall Ubuntu, of course.

Don’t worry, I am not going to install Windows on it. No, I am not going for Fedora either(I use Fedora 8 on my desktop). I installed the latest version of Kubuntu – 8.10 or the ‘Intrepid Ibex’. As a matter of fact, I installed Xubuntu and then install the kubuntu-desktop package(I couldn’t get a Kubuntu CD). So now I have Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE 4.1. If my last experience with KDE4 has taught me anything, it is that KDE4 is nowhere near ready. Well, KDE 4.1 is much better – but still it has a long way to go before I am going to switch my desktop over to it.

My main complaints about KDE 4.1…

  • Lots of bugs
  • KHotKeys don’t work
  • Panel setting don’t get saved – the position of the icons gets reset
  • No Icons in Desktop! (I hear 4.2 has fixed this)
  • And more.

Anyway, I am going to continue using KDE 4.1 on the Lap. Hopefully they will release the stable release of 4.2 soon and I’ll upgrade to that.

After I moved to Kubuntu there were a lot of ‘driver missing’ issues. Wifi stopped working. Some laptop LEDs stopped functioning. So I begun the driver hunt. The DVDs provided with the laptop had linux drivers in them – but they where RPMs – not DEB packages. I cannot understand why Dell did that either. If you preinstall ubuntu, provide the .deb packages.

Before long, I stumbled upon an excellent tutorial on how to enable Atheros wireless. That got my Wifi up and running. The LED don’t work yet, but who cares.

So what does this mean for you visitors? Expect some posts on Laptop specific topics as well as some on Ubuntu/Kubuntu. Earlier I only wrote about Fedora.

This is what my laptop looks now…

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Posted in KDE, Reviews, Ubuntu | 14 Comments »

WFTL Bytes

Written by BinnyVA on October 21, 2008 – 11:42 pm -

WFTL Bytes “your occasiodaily FOSS and Linux news show” is a video podcast by Marcel Gagné. Go see it – it is Good – Good with a capital ‘G’. WFTL Bytes does for Linux what Zero Punctuation does for gaming.

This is WFTL(pronounced ‘Wuftal’) has to say about itself…

This is WFTL Bytes!, your occasiodaily FOSS news show featuring the latest Linux and FOSS news with your host, Marcel Gagné. WFTL Bytes! is a fast, fun, occasionally a bit goofy, but always informative look at technology news and events as seen from a free and open source software perspective. This includes Linux and everything that that orbits it. Watch! Enjoy! Comment on the stories. I want to know what you think and what you’ve got to say, either about the show in general, the topics covered, of the stories themselves. Tell your friends, relatives, co-workers . . . tell everybody!

WFTL Bytes does for Linux what Zero Punctuation does for gaming

A Demo

Here is a couple of episodes to get a feel of the show…

That’s it folks, go subscribe to WFTL Bytes and check out Marcel’s latest press hat. Bye.

Seriously, I’m done. Bye.

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Posted in News, Opinion, Reviews, Video | 1 Comment »

SMPlayer – Linux Video Player

Written by BinnyVA on September 18, 2008 – 12:37 am -

I have used a lot of video players on Linux – and over the time my favorite video player have changed. When I wrote the post Top 5 Video Players in Linux, it was VLC. After that, the position was held by Xine for a long time. But that was before I discovered SMPlayer.

SMPlayer is a front-end for MPlayer, from basic features like playing videos, DVDs, and VCDs to more advanced features like support for MPlayer filters and more.


Remembers the settings of all files you play
So you start to watch a movie but you have to leave… don’t worry, when you open that movie again it will resume at the same point you left it, and with the same settings: audio track, subtitles, volume…
Extremely Configurable
This is one feature I absolutely must have in a video player – I want to use very specific settings. And SMPlayer is one of the few players that lets me do that.
Configurable subtitles
You can choose font and size, and even colors for the subtitles. Or you can drag and drop a subtitle file into the player when you are playing a video – the video will use that subtitle file from then on. Or you can automatically get the subtitle of the currently playing film from OpenSubtitles with the click of a button(you need the latest version for this).
Audio track switching.
You can choose the audio track you want to listen. Works with avi and mkv. And of course with DVDs.
Seeking by mouse wheel.
You can use your mouse wheel to go forward or backward in the video.
Video equalizer
Allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and gamma of the video image. I have never used this feature – but it might come in handy for a bad quality video.
Multiple speed playback
You can play at 2X, 4X… and even in slow motion. SMPlayer speeds up the audio as well – which is kinda distracting – I wish they would mute it in fast mode.
Several filters are available: deinterlace, postprocessing, denoise… and even a karaoke filter (voice removal).
Audio and subtitles delay adjustment
Allows you to sync audio and subtitles.
Advanced options
Such as selecting a demuxer or video & audio codecs, providing mplayer command line options and more. Seriously, take a look at the Preferences dialog of this app.
Allows you to enqueue several files to be played one after each other. Autorepeat and shuffle supported too.
Binaries available for Windows and Linux.
Free Software
SMPlayer is under the GPL license.

Installing SMPlayer

In Fedora/Red Hat system, you can install SMPlayer using yum…

yum install smplayer

The package name is the same for Ubuntu/Debian systems…

apt-get install smplayer

Or you can download the app from their site and install it manually.

Related Links

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Posted in Applications, Reviews, Video | 7 Comments »