Tool tests on the fast track

Tool Tips

Article from Issue 188/2016

Under review: Tiny Applications 20130215, CertMgr 0.2.49, Difftree 0.5.8, Scriptform 1.0, Duply 1.11.1, Xplico 1.1.1.

Tiny Applications 20130215

Toolkit for admins


License: GPLv3 and AFLv3

Alternatives: None

The Tiny Applications collection contains more than 60 short scripts and programs that aim to make working life easier for administrators. Tips for compiling or starting the tools are mostly located in the comments; only a few of the tools come with man pages. The readme file delivers a short description of all the tools.

The collection includes helpful applications from a variety of areas. For example, arpping contacts IP addresses using the ARP protocol, cdiff colorizes diff output, and shows the CPU load. Similarly useful utilities include genpass for creating complex passwords and for converting Mozilla bookmarks for use in the ELinks text-based browser. A few tools are well-known as independent applications.

Admins who want to contribute a script to the set can contact the developer; the email address is available in the readme file.

(2 stars) The Tiny Applications collection is well arranged and contains some useful aids for system operators. Points must be deducted for the documentation, which is not up to date, and the docs cover scripts that are no longer included in the most recent collection.

CertMgr 0.2.49

Manage SSL certificates


License: GPLv3

Alternatives: Xca, Kleopatra

Many admins manage their SSL certificates in the classic way from the shell using openssl. If you are searching for a graphical solution, you should give the Java program CertMgr a chance. CertMgr requires at least Java 8.

The interface shows a summary of the available certificates, the data from the certificate selected, and a list of the tasks executed, along with timestamps. CertMgr manages the certificates in what it calls stores. Users define a validity, the algorithm, and a key length. Each new certificate that lands in this store then receives these standard values. Admins have the option to adjust the values for each certificate individually.

CertMgr offers functions for importing and exporting and can re-sign or disable existing certificates. We were unable to create new certificates with the current version in our lab tests. The Java program stubbornly displayed the progress bar and had not completed even after 45 minutes.

(2 stars) Maintaining existing SSL certificates is an extremely smooth process. For creating new certificates, however, admins are better off sticking to the proven command-line tools.

Difftree 0.5.8

Compare directories with one another



Alternatives: Diff, Rsync

Difftree compares the contents of two directories. According to statements from its developer, this command-line tool primarily wins points for its speed. Difftree is not just fast, however; it also includes a few extras. The tool can contrast several folders on request. To contrast folders, users run dt and then enter the directories to be compared, separating them with a space.

In its output, as well as the folder name, Difftree displays the owner, the access privileges, the size, and all timestamps. The parameter -q can optionally accelerate all of this, in which case Difftree only detects differences in the size and new and removed files.

The tool can calculate MD5 or SHA256 checksums on request, and the results can then be written to a text file with the -w command. Users can retrieve these files for comparison in future uses of the program. In combination with Cron, you can thus create your own monitoring routines in a very elegant way.

(5 stars) Difftree is convincing due to its speed, flexibility, and simple operation. Numerous examples on the project site and man page help out with the first steps.

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