Focus on Software

by David A. Bandel

Welcome to the second installment of my look at software packages worth downloading. I always find something good on the Internet. A lot of developers have been quite busy and are turning out some excellent software. The hot development library seems to be GTK+, and with so many novice Linux users who are not command-line oriented, it is a good thing.


Do a lot of web surfing? Notice how many sites want to leave little droppings called “cookies” on your system? So many, in fact, I added a hard drive to store them all. Okay, I actually needed more space to download and compile programs like this one. It is a slick, easy way to view, edit and delete cookies. Frankly, I would rather eat them. Required libraries are gtk-1.0.6, Xi, Xext, X11, m and glibc.


guitar is another of those utilities you love to have. I like this wrapper for tar despite the fact that I am quite comfortable on a command line. guitar lets you see what is inside a tar or gzipped tar file, read the text files inside, and extract the one you want. It also lets you create a directory for storing the files. This version does not create tar files, but I'll bet future versions will. Required libraries are gtk-1.0.6, Xi, Xext, X11, m and glibc.


gentoo is yet another file manager. It looks simple, but hides a lot of complexity. It will copy, move, and do other things as well. A three-row button bar on the bottom can be configured as you see fit. In fact, the most complicated part of this program seems to be figuring out how to fill up all the empty buttons rather then actually doing it. The configuration box takes a cue from other recent systems that use tabs across the top of the box to change to various configuration pages. Once it is configured (the default configuration is actually quite good), it is easy to use. Required libraries are gtk-1.0.6, Xext, X11, m and glibc. is a small Perl script that all the “dotheads” in the audience will like. It is a way to keep the headlines on your screen while having your web browser open to it all day long, just so you can press reload. This program allows you to see the headlines whenever you wish, just in case a news article appears that you would like to read. While I had trouble with the “Read” button even after setting the line to point to my Netscape binary (it would crash), I suspect I just need to reread the script and find out what I am doing wrong for my setup. Required libraries are Perl, gtk-1.0.6 and the libgtk-perl module.

The Gaby Address Book of Yesterday:

Gaby is a deceptively simple address book. It carries all the latest fields for those needing to keep up with more than just phone and fax numbers. Space is reserved for URL, e-mail address and more. What it lacks is a way to connect to a database engine like MySQL. The flat-file method works well for individuals, but is not practical for a site where multiple users may have years of contacts listed. This one is great for single users and has the potential for larger sites if it can connect to a database engine. Required libraries are gtk-1.0.6, Xext, X11, m and glibc.

The Amazing Anagram Thingie:

This is a command line “game” to help you with those pesky anagram puzzles—very fast, very simple and easy to use. A phrase of any length will have this one scrolling anagram solutions off the screen for a long time. It is a great game for those puzzled by anagrams. Required library is glibc.

Ministry of Truth:

This particular package has been out for a few months, has earned a place in my own system and will soon occupy an internal web site where I regularly work. Sometimes keeping track of jobs is difficult. This program makes it a breeze. It can track most users, software, equipment, jobs and people associated with them. While it requires MySQL, it handles everything once MySQL is installed and configured. For those requiring assistance, a (very low volume) user mail list has been set up. Required libraries are Apache with the php3 module compiled with MySQL, and MySQL.

Still lots more good packages out there. See you next month.

David A. Bandel ( is a Computer Network Consultant specializing in Linux. When he's not working, he can be found hacking his own system or enjoying the view of Seattle from an airplane.
Load Disqus comments