num-utils: This and that, for numbers

Most of the tools I run across in this silly little adventure are intended for text manipulation. Something that manhandles numbers is … well, unusual.

Enter num-utils.


num-utils comes with an array of tools, mostly involving basic math functions that might otherwise be a bit cumbersome.

For example, there’s random, which — as you might imagine — generates random numbers, given a range.

random can also generate numbers on a particular interval, through decimal ranges or within certain bounds. Not terrifically flashy, but without it, the task could be a little more arduous.

average — again as you might imagine — calculates the average out of a string of numbers. It can also show a median or mode, if you ask nicely.

There are some more esoteric tools. interval — as you might not imagine — calculates the difference between numbers in sequence. So between the numbers 100 and 50 in a sequence, interval would return -50. Unusual.

The home page for num-utils is exceedingly sparse, and the README file suggests everything in the package is in a beta stage.

I hold no grudges against beta software, but that file is stamped 2003. 😯

So if you’re waiting for a stable version of num-utils so you can arithmetize your checkbook, I advise being proactive. 😕

I should also mention that “beta” is probably accurate, since I did get one or two errors when I used some of the tools, most notably range.

I should also mention that the names given to the tools might run you into conflicts with software in other packages. The title “random” for example is something that appears in bsd-games, unless I’m mistaken. And “normalize” too — there’s a normalize tool of its own right, as I’ve mentioned here.

I see that Debian sidesteps that issue by prefixing the tools with “num”, which is probably a good idea. Archers might have to whack things into place, to keep everyone happy.

Other than that, it’s good to see numbers get the same love as their text counterparts. 😉