The Great Gods of Chance have spoken, and
ls vimwiki/ | shuf -n1 has vomited forth … collectl!
The first issue to be resolved is: how to pronounce it. “Colle-control,” or “Collect-ull”? You be the judge. In my head, I say it the second way.
And the second is: Why does the help page say it belongs to the Hewlett-Packard company? Is there some sort of insidious corporate malfeasance to be inferred by that?! 😯 👿
Probably not, and it wouldn’t matter in my estimation of collectl, since it is by all measurements A Very Cool Tool. Here’s why:
- Works without superuser privileges, for the most part. Meaning little old you can install it on your machine and you don’t need to be root to get a look at it. It’s true that some features require elevated privileges, but you can at least see if it’s something worth digging deeper into.
- Neatly formatted and easy-to-read output. By default, collectl keeps itself to plain text and ASCII characters, meaning you won’t see trash in a virtual console, or if you’re restricted in your font set. I know that’s a minor benefit, but it’s important sometimes.
- Highly-yet-easily customizable data fields. collectl will show you CPU, disk and network activity by default. Give it the
-sflag and use pluses or minuses to add or subtract specific subsystems you want to know about. No, really: It is that easy.
- Dump to file. collectl will send its output into a file for your later perusal, which I imagine will be of particular importance to system administrators who loathe staying up late at night to catch script kiddies misbehaving.
- Dump to plot data. Even better, you can send all collectl’s output into a data plot format, and use it to generate graphs (more on that in a second). In the raw it just looks like tangled data and brackets, but judging by the collectl home page, some very interesting and colorful pictures are possible.
- Adjustable formatting options and output controls. Include dates. Don’t include dates. Include times. Don’t include times. Compress data files. Don’t compress data files. So many decisions. …
- Super duper top-like mode. Can’t get over how cool and amazing top is? I understand, and so does collectl. Feed it the
--topflag and it will pretend it is The Great One, with some obvious omissions. Like color. 🙄
- When you press CTRL+C, it yells, “Ouch!” Okay, maybe that’s not a huge bonus, but I giggled when I first saw it. I admire programs that retain a measure of humor. 🙂
There’s lots more that collectl will do, and for a brief and easy primer, I first recommend Martin Carstenbach’s introduction. When you think you’re the Blind Master Po of collectl, Martin will feed your own heart to you with his advanced tutorial on collectl-utils. (“Collect-ull-yoo-tills?” I wonder.) Whatever complaints you might have about collectl, most should be resolved with collectl-utils.
If I sound a little enthused about collectl, it’s because I think it’s that good a program. Sure, it’s not a fullscreen console app, and it doesn’t have much color on its own, but I know quality when I see it. Well done, kind sirs. Well done. 😉