Cookbook is a surprisingly geeky pastime. Of course, it's a form of chemistry, but it's also a great way of spending time with other people and avoiding the screen. Anything that can help make this easier is surely a good thing, right? Even if that means more screen time? Cookbook is a command-line tool for managing your own recipes. While it does mean more screen time, it's simple enough to not add any additional distractions. This is what makes Cookbook better than following recipes on something like YouTube, where you're beholden to Google's addictive-by-design further watching suggestions that suck hours from your life and potentially lead to burnt cake.

Cookbook includes a selection of recipes to get you started. You can see these with the list_recipes command, and they include things like Japanese Restaurant Style Ginger Dressing and Vietnamese green soup. As with any recipes you eventually add yourself, you can use these as the source of a menu for an evening's entertainment, combining them together with the add_menu command. The advantage with this is that the shop command can then be used to list all the ingredients you need to buy for every course on a single menu, which is a brilliant idea. When it comes to cooking, simply use the cook command to see the instructions for your entire meal. Of course, all of this depends on the quality of the recipes you have access to, and fortunately, Cookbook's best feature is its clear and concise YAML template, which is used to import your own recipes. This is a simple text file with a name, source, tags, notes, a list of ingredients, and the steps to follow. It's a great way of describing everything you need for a meal without over-elaborating. It's missing specific time metadata, which may be useful for each step, but that's something that can either be added manually or added as a worthwhile patch for a future release.

It's simple, but Cookbook is a great management interface for your own recipes and cooking ideas from the command line.

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Man page viewer


Before all the information was a simple search away, you were dependent on the tools you were using to properly document their own usage. This meant using the man command to read the documentation that was always installed alongside an executable, and consequently, the humble Unix man page has been around for a long time. The first was reportedly written by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson at the insistence of their manager in 1971. Since then, especially when first learning about Linux or after installing a new command, typing man followed by a command name has been a right of passage for many of us. But in the age of Stack Overflow and Google, many of us have forgotten just how useful man pages can be, especially when it comes to providing some insight into why a certain command works a certain way. Which is why anything that makes your catalog of man pages more accessible and readable is definitely a good thing, and that's what mangl does.

When first launched, mangl shows nothing but a search box, but as soon as you start typing, a dynamic list of results appears, updating to reflect the page name you're looking for. It's like a private, concise suggest mode. The numbers after the names of the pages represent the manual sections where each page has been placed, such as 1 for user commands, 3 for C library functions and 6 for NetHack. Selecting a page will present the same man page you can see on the command line, but it all feels so much more civilized through its own minimal GUI application. You can still use Vim navigation keys, or your mouse, but pressing Escape will quit the application. This is because it's designed to be a quick replacement to man on the command line, rather than a book you can work through. And it does a rather more interesting job.

It's easy to forget there's a huge set of brilliant documentation already installed on your Linux box – all thanks to the man page.

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