Optimizing Linux's User Interface
The GoodStuff iconbar is truly one of the most useful Linux utilities I have ever found. GoodStuff is a fvwm module and only runs under fvwm. GoodStuff is an iconbar extremely similar to that found on the NeXT and to a lesser extent like Window's Dashboard or RipBAR. GoodStuff uses approximately 500KB of memory and very little CPU resources. The configuration file is the same as fvwm, .fvwmrc.
GoodStuff's primary use is simply to assign iconic buttons to commonly-used applications so that they may be started with a single mouse click. For example, I have rxvt terminals assigned to each machine in my home network which I can immediately log into. This is substantially faster than my old method of typing xterm, moving the mouse into the window's field of view, clicking for focus, typing rlogin machine name, and then entering my password.
I also have common utilities, such as my mail utility, ftptool, Emacs editor, netscape, file manager, and so forth attached to individual buttons. I limit the GoodStuff iconbar to a dozen buttons (laid out in a 2'6 matrix), because each one takes valuable screen real estate, especially since I have it set permanently in the foreground. Rxvt, my most commonly started application, is not included in GoodStuff but instead is mapped to the middle mouse button on the root window. I can immediately pop up a new rxvt window by simply clicking the second button on the background wallpaper. Less commonly used programs are attached to the root menu (as described in the previous section).
Button bars are hardly novel. What is special about GoodStuff is that one may assign running X-Windows applications to each button and use the button as the display. For example, I have xload running as a 2x1 button at the top of the GoodStuff menubar, and it displays just as it would in a small window. I have xbiff in another window, which alerts me if mail has arrived (the button's color becomes inverted, and it is very noticable). I even have a less well-known but equally useful X-Windows app called xosview which monitors instantaneous CPU, memory, disk, and network usage as a small colored bar graph. It is very helpful for me to watch this program running in the GoodStuff button bar to see when I'm taxing the network or CPU or running out of memory or disk space. All I needed to do to incorporate xosview into GoodStuff was the following line in the .fvwmrc:
*GoodStuff - whatever Swallow "xosview" xosview -bg grey -geometry 210x96-1500-1500 &
I also have fvwm's 2x2 virtual desktop at the bottom of the GoodStuff menu bar. I don't use it all that often, but it is a handy feature when needed.
Other fvwm modules exist, including Pager, Banner, WinList, Clean, Ident, Save, Scroll, Debug, and Sound. I don't use them as much as GoodStuff, but they are all useful utilities.
The strategy described above uses fvwm, tcsh, and other utilities to generate an effective desktop interface to manage programs, data, and system resources. While lacking in certain features, such as drag-and-drop desktop tools and object-oriented metaphors, the combination of these tools creates a desktop which is more flexible, customizable, and powerful than competing paradigms. Current versions of these tools are freely available at many Internet sites including ftp://sunsite.unc.edu/pub/Linux.
Jeff Arnholt is currently developing X-based biomedical imaging packages at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is a medical and graduate student who hopes to earn his MD/PhD degrees by 1997. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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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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