Three Great Everyday Tools for System Administrators

While today’s administrators are becoming increasingly involved in operational matters, such as building infrastructures using tools like ansible, most of a system administrator’s time is spent to more mundane investigations, verification, monitoring and maintenance of systems.

In addition to the daily routine tasks that need to be undertaken, there are usually one or two outliers that need to be dealt with, often out of the blue and almost invariably late at night. Savvy sysadmins will script as much of their mundane work as possible, but having a large knowledge base (or very quick access to such a knowledge library, see below) means that most problems can be avoided along the way.

Here’s our pick of three small but meaningful tools system administrators can use in just about any situation, from freeing up space on partitions that are starting to feel cramped to being able to find existing solutions. to any problem, and find them quickly.

Linux command library

Sysadmins spend much of their day on a terminal interface and will be at least familiar with tools that, for the most part, seem opaquely complex – like uniq, sed, grep, and awk. Over time, the experience pays off and muscle memory kicks in after some time spent in one of those apps that are always nearby if not open. However, there are often times when even the seasoned professional will scratch their head and say, “Now how did I do it? thislast time?”

There are always man pages (and the much more useful info pages, too, on lucky occasions), but for many, a few examples posted right up front will be enough to jog your memory. That’s where cheat and tldr come in: incredibly useful tools that not only remind sysadmins of those pesky short options for commands, but also present working examples that can be borrowed verbatim or used as the basis of commands to answer. current requirements.

However, as anyone using SSH into a remote system knows, not only is there no guarantee that a beloved text editor or tool is present, but installing software (like tldr) can not be permitted, advised or possible.

This is where the Linux command library comes in. It’s basically the Android/iOS version of tldr, or at least it’s based on it; Plus, it has hundreds of tips, tricks, tip sheets, and short guides all in the same interface.

There are git, vim, and emacs cheat sheets alongside video and audio tools (convert video sound to mp3, to pick a random example), networking commands, and reminders of the syntaxes used in common package managers – among many other gems.

Even if you are good with the command line madthe Linux command library (available from F-Droid and elsewhere) could quickly become the digital version of those little miniature O’Reilly guides that continue to adorn every system administrator’s desk.


In the same vein as the Linux command library, ddgr can become one of those indispensable tools that help system administrators memorize, discover or rediscover any know-how on the fly. Or rather, it provides a quick way to search for something on the Internet, right from a terminal interface. Often, this search will be useful to unearth a post or a page written by a fellow technologist who encountered the same problem and shared the answer with the community.

Although many system administrators have access to, and may even prefer, modern GUIs, there is still a significant proportion of system administration that is best done through the CLI, be it PowerShell, a DOS prompt or a GNU shell. For those who prefer to work from the command line or those who have no choice, getting search results quickly on the Internet, without having to start another device with a graphical interface, is an invaluable help.

ddgr searches for DuckDuckGo and presents the SERP as text. This is especially useful when copying and pasting from an Internet resource would be helpful, such as grabbing a code snippet, configuration details, a CLI command, or even an entire script. This makes ddgr a winner over searching from a phone or another PC, although that assumes it’s okay to install the ddgr binaries on the machine you’re working on.

Finally, to visit the web pages listed in search engine results, the machine will need to have a web browser, so installing something like lynx (or maybe browsh) will be required if the workflow is complete must be kept in a text interface.

The same developer (github page) is behind googling, which does the same thing as ddgr, but leverages the Google search engine and its many questionable tracking features.


Since hard drives have grown so large, few users today seem overly concerned about “bloat”, whether in terms of file size or in the form of “super apps” trying to do a lot of things but fail to do them properly. minuimus, or to give it its full title is a cure for bloated files, hard drives that fill up and generally increase the speed at which files can be processed and opened. Smaller files generally perform better. As the project’s website states, “Use it to make your website faster, your game easier to distribute, or just to squeeze more useless vacation photos onto your computer.”

The .pl suffix indicates that minuimus is a Perl script, which makes it practically cross-platform, although the author states that the code would probably need a lot of reworking to work on Windows. Out of the box, the script will work on all sorts of file types, although to work on PDFs (a seemingly quite cavalier file format with its disk space requirements) you’ll need to ensure that some supporting binaries are in place.

A number of file types today are, unbeknownst to most users, compressed archives of many files and hierarchical directory structures. minuimus will expand these files, compress the contents, then securely reform the “file”, saving valuable space without losing any data.

It is a utility that aims to not change any aspect of a file other than its size. There is no quality degradation or lossy compression involved (except, if necessary, when processing mp3 or some legacy video formats). The only losers with minuimus are hard drive manufacturers who will sell fewer products to administrators who can handle this powerful Perl script.

About Debra D. Johnson

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