There are situations where truly the GUI is a rough usefulness blocker, and needs something that quicker, and effects immediately. Clicking, hovering, rolling, overlay windows, fighting with border and title thickness, waiting for response, repeating same or similar moves are can be annoying. Right? Simply, time is never enough – but when effectiveness is on the table – many sysadmin still votes to use terminal, and terminal applications. So, a true sysadmin can be really happy if only get’s a terminal. Because if you have your login passed, and received your terminal – you can have everything, and all of the terminal apps are won’t kick out the side of the HDD with installed app size, or kill your bandwith cap.
But what kind of application can we use when we have no (or worse it’s dead) Xorg on our client, or at our machine? Let’s list here a few that makes your life easier as sysadmin:
- Tmux – I’m pretty sure that on a char terminal the space is scarce, but with is GNU screen replacement makes your multitasking life easy. Unlike screen, you get a statusbar too, and space with tiled multiple terminals if your wish is that. Read more in the manual: man tmux.
- Twin – Um, nope not tiny win, else just Terminal Window System, what is really what it means. You can have an effective window manager in your display, without X. It supports mouse and multiple windows, has a built-in terminal emulator and window manager, and can serve as display for client applications. Something just as VNC-server like, with full mouse support. Neat, right? Check it here.
- TabletVK – Sometimes, when no proper USB cable is available (nightmare as how many USB cable can be found), or no keyboard that would be usable on a touch interface, go no further. This tiny app provides for you a touchscreen as keyboard, and guess what – no X. Check it here.
- Mutt – If mailing is necessary, I think this is one of the best ones IMHO. Supports most mail formats, even mbox and maildir, and bunch of protocols. It has message scoring and threading capabilities too. Relies on external tools for composing and filtering messages, but you receive tons of stuff under the hood.
- Vim – One of the best, if not the best versatile editor that can be found. Somebody not really likes, but this tool is handy even coding, configuring, editing, and browsing too with expansion modules. Yeah, I know: Emacs, Joe, pico, nano, $whatever is there too. Choose your destiny, I won’t fight.
- Elinks – Need websites content? I say this browser makes it for you. Feature rich text mode webbrowser, that can render both frames and tables, is highly customizable and can be extended via Lua or Guile scripts. It is quite portable and runs on a variety of platforms. If you need more content-specific gui, that can run on framebuffer use Surf, what provides a python webkit window and voila.
- Finch, Freetalk, Irssi: When IRC is necessary, you have few more choice, but the best known is Pidgin in ncurses combo called Finch. It’s the very same, and no need to know more if you have ever used Pidgin. Freetalk is similar, it’s just a jabber client with readline interface, configurable, scriptable with Guile interface. Irssi – is different, because it’s written from scratch, and you can expand with perl modules in many ways how it’s looks and operates.
- Top, htop, atop: Provides a dynamic real-time view of a running system i.e. actual process activity, my favourite is atop with plenty of possibility.
- Vmstat: This app reports information about processes, memory, paging, block IO, traps, and cpu activity.
- W: Nope, not typo – this is the command. This displays information about the users currently on the machine, and their processes. Simply said, who is logged on and what they are doing.
- Uptime: It will tell you the current time, how long the system has been running, how many users are currently logged on, and the system load averages for the past 1, 5, and 15 minutes.
- Ps: You get an snapshot from your current processes. Use -A option to have all.
- Free: Memory usage
- iostat: Reports CPU statistics and input/output statistics for devices, partitions and network filesystems (NFS).
- mpstat: Multiprocessor usage. Displays activities for each available processor, processor 0 being the first one. mpstat -P ALL to display average CPU utilization per processor.
- pmap: Reports memory map of a process. Use this command to find out causes of memory bottlenecks.
- netstat and ss: netstat displays network connections, routing tables, interface statistics, masquerade connections, and multicast memberships. ss command is used to dump socket statistics. It allows showing information similar to netstat.
- iptraf: interactive colorful IP LAN monitor. It is an ncurses-based IP LAN monitor that generates various network statistics including TCP info, UDP counts, ICMP and OSPF information, Ethernet load info, node stats, IP checksum errors, and others.
- tcpdump or gulp: Tcpdump is dumps traffic on a network. However, you need good understanding of TCP/IP protocol to utilize this tool. As alternative I suggest Gulp, if you want to go for sure, and you have a waaaay huge network. Read more here about this: http://corey.elsewhere.org/gulp/
- /proc system: This is what is always under your hand, and can be reached anytime.
- Naigos: Popular open source computer system and network monitoring application software. It has also an complete preconfigurable setup called FAN. More over here: http://fannagioscd.sourceforge.net/drupal/
- Cacti: complete network graphing solution designed to harness the power of RRDTool’s data storage and graphing functionality. Cacti provides a fast poller, advanced graph templating, multiple data acquisition methods, and user management features out of the box. All of this is wrapped in an intuitive, easy to use interface that makes sense for LAN-sized installations up to complex networks with hundreds of devices. It can provide data about network, CPU, memory, logged in users, Apache, DNS servers and much more.
- lsof: list open files, network connections and much more.
- mtr: mtr combines the functionality of the traceroute and ping programs in a single network diagnostic tool….
- whowatch: Real time info on who’s logged in, how their connected (SSH, TTY, etc) and what process thay have running.
…and of course this is just the beginning. But with this set of known apps, you are ready to take the challange, and affraid no more from terminal. Have fun, and feel the freedom!