The four-CD Infomagic Developer's Kit, which, as you know if you've been following my column, has become my choice for getting Linux, holds a lot of code. In browsing through the disks, I've looked at spreadsheets, text editors, games, and all sorts of interesting programs and packages. This month I'll focus on software that should look very familiar to those of you visiting from the MS-DOS world.
In a previous article I mentioned a WordPerfect demo which demonstrated that some very powerful and popular packages do make their way over from DOS. Though I had problems getting the demo to work, that shouldn't reflect poorly on the commercial product. It shows that Linux is being seriously considered as a valid alternative to the DOS/Windows OS mindset. [That demo is the SCO version. Easier to use will be the native Linux version that is currently being ported by Caldera and is expected to be released sometime 4Q95—ED]
The usual caveat holds. Many of the programs undergo frequent revisions. Some are shareware or freeware versions of commercial programs. Others are just as-is.
Unlike their DOS counterparts, many of these programs include the source code. Some have originated in DOS; others I mention because of their tremendous utility or interest, hence the title of “Serendipity” for this month.
Also, I should mention a change in my computer system since my previous column. I still have a 486/66, but it's now loaded with 16MB of RAM. I don't use a swap file as much, but when it's needed I'll mention it; with 16MB and no swap file, X-Windows runs happier and much faster.
Diving into the CDs...
mc, or Midnight Commander, which I have written about repeatedly, is a clone of Norton Commander and an absolute godsend. This program removes many of the hassles of copying and unarchiving. It also reduces your chances of making bonehead mistakes by not allowing you to quickly delete things recursively (something, I have been told by experienced hackers, particularly gut wrenching). To delete recursively, that is, to delete a directory and the files and subdirectories under it, mc requires you to wade through two menus and then type “yes” to a prompt for deletion.
Unlike the DOS or Windows Norton Commander, mc offers some truly unusual choices such as those options found via the f2 key; your choices change depending on whether the cursor is on a directory or a file. If you're on a directory when you press f2, you gain the option of creating a tar file of the contents. If you're on a file, the option changes to include dumping the contents or displaying the file with roff -man. You also have options to edit a bug report and mail it to root (which didn't work for me, probably because (1) I am root, (2) I don't have a network and haven't set up mail, and (3) I don't know any better.) Another option which I both like and dislike is the information hypertext browser. I like it because it provides a lot of useful information; I dislike it because it uses Emacs (or something close to it), and I still haven't mastered many of the commands. mc also offers a useful search capability that will look for most anything anywhere. mc is a must have.
pkgtool, installpkg, explodepkg, removepkg, and makepkg are part of the Slackware setup and are a great set of utilities for file handling. Normally, to install a .gz file I would use mc but I always hated that if I wanted to uninstall the files I'd have to list the tar, remember or write down the files, manually search them out and delete them. installpkg takes care of that by building a script that records where the files went to. When it's time to delete, removepkg reads that script and does the dirty work of deletion. Even better, it won't delete a file if it's in use by some other program. This is a great system for novices. pkgtool is sort of a shell, but I prefer to work directly with the sub-utilities; it temporarily raises my “hacker” factor. makepkg does like it sounds—it makes packages. explodepkg is very similar to installpkg but it doesn't create or affect scripts. It and installpkg work on Slackware compatible and (tar+gzip) packages.
minicom should look quite familiar to you if you have used the DOS versions of the Procomm, Telix, or QModem communications programs. The alt commands are mostly here but where, for example, in Telix you'd choose alt-o for the options screen, in minicom the sequence is alt-a-o. alt-a precedes most of your choices. It took me a very short time to get used to this arrangement. minicom doesn't have as many options as the DOS counterparts. For example, you only get two terminal emulations—VT102 and ANSI—and four protocols for sending/receiving files: Zmodem, Ymodem, Xmodem, and kermit, but the options are enough. This program works well, initiating Zmodem for downloading without hitch, allowing a variety of configuration options, and even including my favorite two options: text capturing (alt-a-l) and screen scroll back(alt-a-b)---but still could use some improvements, such as adding more options to the somewhat limited dialing directory. I hope that the authors continue to support and add to this program; I like it and greatly prefer it to the X-Windows program seyon.
Two small utilities that are neither ports from DOS nor clones but are still quite useful are dos2unix and unix2dos. These programs just convert text files to and from Unix and DOS formats, which appears consist of removing or adding carriage return characters as needed. Simple and neat.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
Free to Linux Journal readers.Register Now!
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide