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My Own Ten Old-School Linux Programs That I'll Never Forsake

Date/Time Permalink: 01/28/10 12:15:06 pm
Category: LINKS and Lists

Jack Wallen over at Tech Republic just posted 10 old-school Linux tools I refuse to let go of, and of course I have a warm place in my heart for anyone who puts the command line first (and he isn't even a programmer! - see #3 on his list). Anyway, this sounds like good meat for a fun meme, so what are the programs that will never be replaced on my menu?

As I see it, the point of this exercise is not to rant about your favorite programs, but to make fun of yourself for being so old-fashioned. And I'm deliberately picking different programs from Wallen, even though there's overlap (command line, nethack, man pages, and cron).

Emacs - Emacs, like Zen, is something you either get or you don't. I rave about Emacs on this blog all the time, so I won't bother to explain more here. I'll just say that ultimately, Emacs has something unique that appeals to me - personality.

dc - Isn't this hilarious? I have desktop calculator programs installed all the time. I never use them, because it's still faster to just dive to the console and bang out the dc line. I've gotten to where I actually think about math better when I'm writing it as a dc command. No, really, if I'm away from a digital device and doing math in my head, I've discovered that I mentally type the reverse polish notation - complete with the leading "dc -e!"

Shell tools (sed, grep, cut, etc.) - Important thing to know about me: I am the epitome of laziness. If I can do something with 15 keystrokes instead of 20, I'll do it that way. And the command line text editing tools are fun! Yes, I get more kick out of figuring out some wicked-clever for-loop solution with filters than I do actually solving the problem.

Angband - Like Nethack, Angband - in the console - is just the dungeon crawler grind that never goes away. I'll go off and play the latest 3D amazing impressive whiz-bang game, and when I'm done with it, I'm back to Angband again. I must be broken.

SoX - If 'dc' didn't cement my place as a dinosaur, this will do it. The 'play' command is still how I listen to MP3s. Hey, it gets the job done, takes up the least resources, and I wrote a jukebox script which auto-plays my music file library on shuffle. I can just turn it on with one command and go back to what I was doing - instant custom radio station.

Image Magick - This isn't so much an anachronism as it is the only solution for batch image processing. Remember, I'm lazy. I can't believe there are people out there who will wait for Gimp to start (and nobody uses anything but Gimp ever, right?) and load up an image just to do some monkey-task like resizing, cropping, or transcoding. What, does time grow on trees? But then I also like inventing bizarre toys in it.

Tcl/tk/wish - It's strange that I still use this. When I need a fast desktop GUI solution, whipping off a quick 'wish' (the windowing shell extension) script is still the easiest way I know. If it hadn't been for wish, I would have never gotten into Tcl. I actually hate Tcl.

Lynx - Before you laugh, my daily browsing is in Firefox. Instead, I find Lynx indispensable for a number of cases: (1) To quickly view a web page chock full o' stupid, where I don't want to have to turn off ads, Flash, Javascript, Java, images, CSS, and sound all at once, (2) To script - Did you know you can script Google queries and store the results in a text file, for instance?, (3) To view web pages when my desktop is otherwise occupied (such as a game running full-screen).

ANSI art - Not a program specifically, but still very old-school. The associated programs are tetraview, aaview, and the caca library. I do have a whole category on this blog devoted to it, after all.

less - Still the fastest way to view any text file stored on my own machine. 'Nuff said.

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