Focus on Software

by David Bandel

Guess I must be getting old. Or at least I'm not “with it” anymore. Lately, I've had exchanges with some of these new kids on the block who claim to be CS majors who took exception to me saying HTMLized mail is rude and presumptuous. Wish I knew what they taught CS majors these days, but Netiquette certainly isn't among the topics. At least not the Netiquette I've come to know. Perhaps the new breed are being pumped out on the Microsoft Internet. I don't know. I do know when these supposedly computer-literate folks send me HTML mail, I get annoyed. I'm not worried they'll give my system a virus (I don't read mail as root), but not everyone has broadband access, even within the US. Outside the US, many folks pay for every byte received. So it's pretty presumptuous of them to send a 200K spaghetti-code HTMLized e-mail in blinding colors, with print that goes from microscopic to billboard size, to say they're CS majors and could I please explain this or that to them. If they'd be equally as presumptuous and pay my $750/month internet bill, they could hog as much of my bandwidth as they wanted with their imitation spam mail. Until then, guess I'll just have to start sending their HTML mail where it belongs—/dev/null, along with the rest of the spam. Just wish I could do that before it wasted my bandwidth. I also hope those San Diego spammers got every day of the nine-year maximum sentence.

IP Flow Meter:

I recently found that my internet connection was being eaten up, and I didn't know by whom. Running tcpdump was out of the question since I didn't have a large disk drive handy (or time to sift through the dump). I just wanted to know where to start looking; after that I could take a look at the protocols. Well, I found IP Flow Meter, and it does exactly what I needed. Within one hour (after the first dump), I easily spotted the system with the most input/output. Requires: libpcap, glibc.

Log Monitor:

This GTK utility allows you to monitor several different logs at the same time (up to 25). Each log is contained on its own tab. You can clear the log showing on the screen at any time. Entry keywords can be highlighted in any of eight different colors specified in a .rc file. Requires: libgtk, libgdk, libgmodule, libglib, libdl, libXext, libX11, libm, glibc.


Need a log viewer for web statistics even the dullest witted of PHBs can understand? Then this is the answer to your prayers. These are graphics even a six-year-old can understand, and there are lots of ways to display them. Setup is also fairly simple. One of the best web statistics applications I've seen. Requires: Perl, web browser, web server, cron (optional), Telnet or ssh (optional).


If you have used Allaire's ColdFusion, you might want to take a look at SteelBlue. This particular web application allows you to program database queries to an SQL server, work with forms and do a number of other things. Like ColdFusion, SteelBlue adds a few extensions to the HTML language. One big difference, however, is SteelBlue can be run from a command line—a web browser isn't required. This is an absolute must for the serious web programmer. Requires: web server, libpq, libstdc++, libm, libcrypt, glibc, SQL server (PostgreSQL, MySQL, msql, others).


This utility securely wipes your files by first writing all zeros to the file five times, then writing all ones to the file five times. It then deletes the file. Obviously, you need to have write permission to the file to do this. But anything that can be retrieved from the filesystem will be all ones. Cheap insurance and easy to use. Requires: glibc.

This utility is a remote banner scanner that will probe for banners on the target and write the banners from any target host to a file for later perusal. This could help ensure that banners comply with company policies. It also checks mail servers to see if they allow verify or expand operations (a really bad idea). Requires: Perl, Perl module IO::Socket, Nmap, dig, finger.


This is primarily a command-line shell script that can help you keep track of your weight. You can add a weight daily (or less often if you like). You can ask for your caloric debt, or you can see a plot of your weight. Requires: shell.


The wipl utility will capture and maintain statistics about packets it sees on the network. These statistics can then be either displayed on a command line or written as a web page for display in a browser. You can see traffic listed with IP, MAC address and packets sent and received. Good for monitoring bandwidth usage if you don't run snmp. Requires: libstdc++, libm, glibc, libpcap.

Until next month.

David A. Bandel ( is a Linux/UNIX consultant currently living in the Republic of Panama. He is coauthor of Que Special Edition: Using Caldera OpenLinux.
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