moreutils: Exactly what it claims to be

If you had a collection of random text-based tools that bolstered the traditional Unix toolset, what would you name it? moreutils, of course.

Problem is, moreutils isn’t really a program unto itself, so much as it is a group of other, scattered utilities. So no screenshot this time. But I’ll tell you that it includes such classics as:

  • chronic, which eats all a program’s output, unless the program ends with an error;
  • combine, which allows you to mesh files with binary operations — imagine merging files based on an xor function;
  • ifne, which springs into action when an application ends with no output … but is reversible; and
  • vidir, which allows you to edit the contents of a directory … imagine the trouble you could get into with that.

There are a lot more, and most of them rather clever. Almost all of them could be accomplished with a little command-line kung-fu — for example, chronic is basically equivalent to >/dev/null 2>&1.

But like any good program, they’ve simply made life easier for you.

Now, before the Unix zealots start to blow a gasket, just take your blood pressure medicine and relax a little. Best I can tell, moreutils isn’t part of any distro by default, which means your idyllic little world of pristine 30-year-old software is unsullied by the younger generations.

And if you’re one of those people who likes to tinker with new tools and maybe get things done more easily, take heart, moreutils is available in the repos of every major distro I checked. Which means so long as you have a connection to the great beyond, you can probably install it.

And with that, we can move deeper into the M section. …

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One thought on “moreutils: Exactly what it claims to be

  1. CorkyAgain

    Besides vidir, my favorite tool from this package is sponge. It provides a nifty way to run a filter on a file and save the output to that same file.

    $ sort -u somefile | vipe | sponge somefile

    The ‘parallel’ tool is also pretty cool. But I’m not sure whether or how it’s better than the gnu utility with the same name.

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