Tool tests on the fast track

Tool Tips

Article from Issue 190/2016

We review htop 2.0.1, Metastore 1.1.0, fgallery 1.8.1, UniversalCodeGrep 0.2.1, hping 3.0.0, and NitroShare 0.3.1. 

htop 2.0.1

Function: Clear-cut process manager


License: GPLv2

Alternatives: Top, ps

Many admins turn to Top to monitor the usage of their computers. The classic tool presents a dynamic view of the processes running on your system and the resources needed. Htop, which made a giant leap from version 1.0.3 to 2.0.0 in early February and has since published the first bugfix release 2.0.1, proves to be a good alternative. The ncurses interface not only allows horizontal and vertical scrolling but also lets users manipulate processes by pressing function keys.

The developers added a few more interesting new features to the tool. Htop is now platform independent and thus is available not only for Linux but also for FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and OS X. Also, the tool relies on ncurses 6, which supports scrolling with the mouse wheel. You can install from the sources on systems that use the older ncurses version 5, but mouse wheel support does not work in this case.

(5 Stars) The new release, finally available after a wait of more than four years, is a huge success for the htop developers. Not only will it satisfy system administrators on Linux machines, but finally also BSD and OS X users, too.

Metastore 1.1.0

Function: Metadata store files


License: GPLv2

Alternatives: None

Because the git versioning tool does not cover all metadata for files, directories, and links, resourceful developers wrote a tool to handle these tasks: metastore stores information in separate files. Users call the tool with the -s option and pass in the path to the source. The results end up in the .metadata file in the current folder.

By default, Metastore is restricted to details of the owner, group, access privileges, and extended attributes (xattr). If you want to cover the last modification time, you need to add -m to the command line. The -c parameter tells Metastore to compare the stored information with the current version of the data and output any changes to the standard output. The -a option lets users reset the metadata. To cover removed or empty directories, you would add -e.

(4 Stars) Metastore does a great job, not only in Git repositories but also in providing rudimentary protection against intruders, as well as in archives in which the tool ensures that all metadata match after unpacking on the target system.

fgallery 1.8.1

Function: Create simple web galleries


License: GPLv2

Alternatives: booh, AGG

If you want to show your holiday snaps outside of Facebook, Flickr, and other services on the web and have your own web space, your best bet is a photo album generator. Many solutions rely on dynamic content and therefore require a database back end. For a more resource-friendly approach, try fgallery: All it needs to open an exhibition is ImageMagick, the JSON:PP Perl module, and exiftran.

The Perl script does not just ensure the correct orientation of the images, it also sorts them in chronological order and by timestamp. Fgallery also scales the thumbnails. Their image quality (default: 90 percent) is defined by the --quality parameter. If the collection contains many portraits, -f can optimize thumbnail cropping. Optionally, you can use -j to parallelize the process of creating snapshots. The result is a static gallery that contains some JavaScript elements for navigation.

(3 Stars) Fgallery is fast, its use is intuitive, and the results are okay, but users who want a more sophisticated design, a more complex preview, or embedded videos might want to look for an alternative.

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