Useful helpers for the shell

Better Unpacking

Linux users often have to deal with file archives in ZIP, RAR, or tarball (tar.gz, tar.bz) format. The commands for unpacking these archives are as different as the formats: unzip, unrar e, tar xzf.

The tar command, in particular, regularly challenges users with its cryptic syntax. Particularly annoying is an archive full of files that are not stored in a separate subdirectory when unpacked but instead clutter the current folder. Such shortcomings are addressed by the Dtrx [4] unpacker – the abbreviation stands for "do the right extraction."

All the popular distributions have Dtrx in their package sources; under Ubuntu, the installation includes a number of tools for unpacking. On the other hand, with Arch, you have to install the necessary tools yourself. As a wrapper, Dtrx is not able to unpack archives itself, but it composes the required syntax for you. You only have to remember dtrx <file_name> to unpack an archive.

Figure 4 shows Dtrx in action: The badly built bad-tarball.tar.xz tarball does not contain a base subdirectory, so all the data will end up in the current folder when unpacking with tar xf. Additionally, tar adopts the file permissions without changes – in this case, you are not allowed to edit the files without first modifying the permissions using chmod or a file manager. Dtrx corrects all of this in one command.

Figure 4: Dtrx automatically corrects read and write permissions during unpacking and ensures order by creating a subdirectory.

Better Terminal

Perhaps you are looking for an alternative to the terminal emulator itself? If so, it's worth taking a look at Tilix [5]. The Tilix terminal emulator outperforms most other terminal applications and offers some interesting enhanced features. For example, Tilix allows you to divide the window into several sub-terminals. You can display the current workload in an Htop window zone, output system information in the second window zone, and continue working as usual in the main section (Figure 5). You can arrange the individual sub-windows by dragging and dropping or by pulling a sub-window out of the application window as a new terminal.

Figure 5: The modern terminal emulator Tilix offers many useful functions. For example, you can divide the window into several sub-windows.

Palette Pick

Some users like to deploy different colors in the terminal to highlight text and organize the information. Many terminal programs provide color profiles, which you can enable in the settings with just a few clicks of the mouse. If you want colors but you're weary of the drab, elementary color palette used with most terminal emulators, you might want to try Nord  [6], which the project website describes as "an arctic, north-bluish color palette." Nord is specially designed "to achieve optimal focus and readability for code syntax highlighting and UI." The Nord palette "consists of a total of sixteen, carefully selected, dimmed pastel colors for an eye-comfortable, … yet colorful ambiance."

The Nord pastel color profile is available for numerous programs, from classic terminal applications and Putty (also for Windows) to corresponding profiles for editors or development environments (Figure 6). On its GitHub page, the project links to the different applications.

Figure 6: If you prefer an "artic, north-bluish" color palette in the terminal, try out Nord.

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