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Useful but Unknown Unix Tools //at 01:04 //by abe

from the let's-start-a-column dept.

Most of my talks are either talks about commandline basics (Commandline Helpers about GNU Coreutils and Findutils usage; Understanding Shell Quoting) or collections of small tips and tricks, e.g. about SSH, History Expansion, or commandline tools. Valentin Haenel called this second type of talks “nugget talks”. I like that term.

My newest talk (German only so far, next occasion at the LUGS meeting in Zurich on 16th of December 2010) is such a nugget talk and is about useful but unknown tools. While preparing that talk I noticed that the amount of neat but less known tools I collected for possible inclusion into that talk would be enough for a whole day or so. I noticed that I’ll never be able to give a talk about all that stuff.

To not letting these tips rot in that file uncommented, I decided that I’ll write (more or less) short blog postings about these tools, similar to and inspired by Myon’s blog postings about Cool Unix Features as well as the no more existing or at least broken Debian Package of the Day and Debian Package a Day.

While Myon mostly posted long-time but still unknown features, my postings will mostly cover useful but unknown packages available in Debian and most debian-derived distributions like grml and Ubuntu. Some postings may also just highlight some features of common tools or packages like e.g. GNU Coreutils.

You can subscribe to these tips via RSS or just view all of them in your web browser at

Useful but Unknown Unix Tools: netselect //at 00:05 //by abe

from the tune-your-sources.list dept.

Ever wondered which mirror of your favourite Linux distribution is the fastest at your location?

Check it with netselect (code at GitHub). It checks for the number of hops and ping times to given hosts and tells you which one is the fastest of them:

# netselect -vv \
Running netselect to choose 1 out of 5 addresses.
.......................................................                       25 ms  16 hops   90% ok ( 9/10) [   72]                      17 ms  17 hops   90% ok ( 9/10) [   51]                        0 ms   3 hops   90% ok ( 9/10) [    0]                       22 ms  15 hops   90% ok ( 9/10) [   62]                          22 ms  15 hops   90% ok ( 9/10) [   60]

And if you’re too lazy to optimize your sources.list with netselect manually, just use the netselect-apt package. It will do it for you.

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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert


Debian GNU/Linux is my favourite Linux distribution, being stable, flexible, consistent and having a great community. Although I'm not the biggest bug report writer, I try to contribute by staffing the Debian booth at events, carrying the necessary hardware there or even organising the whole booth.

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