Utilizing debtags to Discover Similar Software
Problem: you're running your favorite application when you realize that there's a feature you want that is not yet implemented. You could write this feature yourself, but perhaps there is a similar application that has already implemented it for you.
Solution: someone tells you to check out debtags, a feature of Debian-derived distributions that allows users to discover similar software packages based on the tags associated with a myriad of DEB packages. Let's utilize debtags to find an alternative for our favorite command line MP3 player, mpg123.
First, we must update the debtags database.
$ sudo debtags update
Then, we can start searching!
$ debtags related mpg123 -d 1 madplay - MPEG audio player in fixed point mpg321 - mpg123 clone that doesn't use floating point
From the output, you can see that there appears to be a suitable alternative called mpg321. How nice! The '-d' option specifies the relevancy of the results. The default is 0, but the higher the value, the less relevant your results will be. Keep this in mind as you run your queries. The best solution I have found is to start at 0 and work your way up until your query returns some results. A value of 1 will not suffice for all package searches — we could whip up a script, but then again, I'm too lazy.
It's also possible to see the tags associated with an application.
Let's take a look at what types of tags are assigned to mpg123 that helped debtags find related software.
$ debtags tag ls mpg123 interface::commandline role::program sound::player use::playing works-with::audio works-with-format::mp3
Now, related software substitutes should have similar tags, right?
$ debtags tag ls mpg321 interface::commandline role::program scope::utility sound::player use::playing works-with::audio works-with-format::mp3
This is exactly how debtags works with the '-d' option. The relevancy is determined based on the frequency of tag matches across possible alternative applications. We can also just search for software based on certain tags. Let's expand our mind and see all the sound players available:
$ debtags search sound::player adplay - console-based OPL2 audio player akode - (short description not available) allegro-examples - example programs and demo tools for the Allegro library alsaplayer - (short description not available) alsaplayer-alsa - PCM player designed for ALSA (ALSA output module) alsaplayer-common - PCM player designed for ALSA (common files) alsaplayer-daemon - PCM player designed for ALSA (non-interactive version) ...[snipped]...
To veiw all of the possible tags that we can search for:
$ debtags tagcat Facet: accessibility Description: Accessibility Support Accessibility Support Tag: accessibility::TODO Description: Need an extra tag Need an extra tag ...[snipped]...
To dump the entire package-to-tag database mappings:
$ debtags cat 2vcard: implemented-in::perl, role::program, use::converting 3dchess: game::board, game::board:chess, implemented-in::c, ... 3ddesktop: game::toys, interface::3d, role::program, ... 44bsd-rdist: admin::file-distribution, interface::commandline, ... 4g8: admin::monitoring, protocol::ip, protocol::tcp, ... 6tunnel: interface::daemon, network::server, network::vpn, ... 855resolution: admin::configuring, hardware::video, ... ...[snipped]...
I encourage you to read over the man page for even more advanced debtags kung-fu. There are even options to add your own custom tags and even submit tags for packages that have incorrect or outdated information. debtags is a wonderful utility, so have fun with it! Post your comments below if you have further questions or tips :-)
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.
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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