gping and Nextinspace

Charly's Column

Article from Issue 245/2021

Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Charly has time to devote to gadgets like graphical ping tools, flashing space stations, and space walks.

Every now and then I notice tools that are useful, interesting, or ideally both, but sadly don't offer me enough material for a full-page article. This explains why there are two additions to the toolbox this month: gping [1] and Nextinspace [2].


A ping variant, gping graphically displays the determined round trip times (Figure 1). Admittedly, this is not exactly a new idea, but most tools of this kind require a graphical interface, while gping does its magic on the console, making it my tool of choice when I'm logged into a server via SSH.

Figure 1: Gping: A graphical ping for the terminal.

First I need Cargo, the Rust package manager, because gping is written in Rust (Listing 1, first line). In addition, gping needs a few more components, in particular rustc, but the package manager automatically fetches these as dependencies when you install Cargo.

Listing 1

Install gping

$ sudo apt-get -fym install cargo
$ cargo install gping

Once everything is on board, it's time to set up gping (Listing 1, second line). It ends up in the ~/.cargo/bin/ directory. To use gping in a convenient way, either add this directory to $PATH, or create a symlink to a directory that exists in your $PATH.

Gping only supports a few parameters. IPv4 or IPv6 can be enforced with -4 and -6 respectively, while -n 10 increases the ping interval from one to 10 seconds.


I like pointless but interesting gadgets and have more time on my hands than usual right now due to COVID-19. What I wanted to do was build a small model space station (e.g., made of Lego) where an LED flashes whenever the International Space Station passes over my home village. This requires a bit of software. During my research, I stumbled across Nextinspace, which didn't help me with my little project, but is interesting nonetheless. It notifies you of upcoming space-related projects around the world: rocket launches, satellite launches, spacewalks, and more (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Nextinspace offers a roadmap for grounded astronauts.

Nextinspace, written in Python, can be beamed onto your device using the pip Python installer (Listing 2). If you then enter nextinspace, the next upcoming event is output. The -v switch brings additional information to light. Two other options help to classify the events: -l shows only rocket launches, while -e shows all other operations (but no launches).

Listing 2

Installing Nextinspace

$ apt update
$ sudo apt-get install python3 python3-pip
$ pip install nextinspace

The Author

Charly Kühnast manages Unix systems in a data center in the Lower Rhine region of Germany. His responsibilities include ensuring the security and availability of firewalls and the DMZ.

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