Tag Archives: information

since: Since you last checked

I promised I would get since onto these pages before the end comes, mostly because I don’t remember any other log viewer that has this behavior by default … and I want to be able to remember it in the future.


It’s hard for me to be sure though, after so many years and so many log utilities. :\

since seems different because, as you might have inferred from the screenshot, it only displays log data since the last time it checked. So you can see the last portions of pacman.log at the top of that image, then the repository update. The next invocation of since only shows the two lines that had been added.

I’m sure other tail-esque tools can do this, and possibly add a few nifty tricks in passing. It’s just a matter of finding the right flags and getting them in order.

For its own part, since keeps its state file in ~/.since, and you have the option to ignore it. You can also tell since to use a special state file, to run periodically, to ignore compressed logs, ignore missing logs, and a lot of other options.

I am not a real bloodhound when it comes to keeping an eye on logs, so at its best, since is useful … but only rarely. On my pseudo-desktop system, there’s almost no call for it.

On a more complex system or in a situation where log files are critical, it might save you some time trying to get the information you need. I’m willing to give it a thumbs-up. πŸ™‚

ncdt: An interesting evolution

Quick on the heels of tree and ddir, a loyal reader pointed out ncdt, which takes the tree model and adds a small feature or two.


As you can see, ncdt adds the size of files and directories as part of its default display. So in situations where it’s useful to see directory structure and size — such as labeling removable media, like CDs — it is probably more useful.

Unfortunately, I see no options to adjust what ncdt shows, so there are no “human-readable” (which I prefer) output flags or the like. What you see is what you get.

ncdt also promises to show “special” data for mp3 files, but the Debian version as well as the version I built on my Arch system from the Debian source package showed nothing. Even the sample screenshot in Debian doesn’t show anything “special” for mp3 files. Hmmm. 😦

It’s possible that there is an added dependency that I don’t have, or perhaps the mp3 files I tried post-date what ncdt is capable of analyzing. I checked the ReadMe and source files, but I got no hints. And the only home page I have for ncdt is the Debian package page above.

No matter. ncdt adds a little to the tree model and could probably, at one time in the past, show a little information about mp3 files. It’s an interesting evolution, even if it still needs some attention to reach fruition.

genstats: Quick statistical reports

I can see the usefulness of genstats almost immediately. Given a text file, you can pull out a frequency report with very little effort.


And since genstats handles its input and output in much the same way as cut, you should be able to get the information you want within just a few minutes of compiling it.

It may not be appealing to you to track word frequency in a flat text file, but consider what you could do with genstats and your average log file. That is the author’s suggestion, and the screenshot on the home page gives a good example of some advanced genstats usage.

My only complaint about genstats is so trivial that I’m embarrassed to mention it. In a file with 12 lines, and with four of the words in the second field being the same, the display should read “33%,” not “0.33%.” The latter is a third of a percent, while the former is a third of the whole. Or perhaps there is another calculation at work there, that I’m not sure about.

I get the picture though. And having said that, I suppose it’s worth mentioning that gentstats doesn’t give you a lot of control over the output. As best I can tell, that is the only style of report you’ll see from genstats.

genstats appears to be a free-roaming program; it’s not in Arch/AUR or Debian. So if you want something quick and easy to package, this might be one. πŸ˜‰

httping: Lots of flash and dash

When I first read the description for httping I took it to be a ping tool intended specifically for HTTP addresses. I couldn’t really see how that would be terribly different from plain old ping, since I’m in the habit of just feeding URLs to ping anyway.


Oh, but this is something even better than that. :mrgreen: httping has a lovely ncurses mode that shows all kinds of flashy, splashy, dashy color and metrics. And manages to cram it all into one small display.


I have a lot of the fancier effects turned on there; if you install the FFTW libraries from your distro (fftw in Arch; probably something from here in Debian) you can play with the phase meter and traffic history bars too.

Or turn all that off and get just the plain ncurses display. Or just feed it an address with no flags, and get something a lot like straight ping. But where’s the fun in that? πŸ˜‰

You could make the argument that pressing the phase display and the history graphs directly over the displayed text makes things hard to read, and I’d probably have to agree for the most part. However, I don’t remember too many other ping tools — or other network monitors, for that matter — that tried that, except perhaps for the venerable iftop, or its offshoot iftopcolor.

But personally, I like it. I think it works, and you have the option to remove it. httping is different, it’s colorful, it approaches a specific case and handles it completely but adroitly.

An easy decision: One gold star for httping: ⭐ Don’t spend it all in one place. πŸ˜‰

spew: For testing purposes

I’m suddenly inundated with testing a half-dozen new laptops here, so I don’t have a lot of time for writing up posts.

I did have a moment this morning to check out spew, which I believe is in the Debian repos, in Fedora and in their derivatives, but surprisingly not in Arch.


spew is a tool for testing I/O performance and generating workloads for those tests. What you see above is spew’s text-based interface, writing out a quick 128Mb file and checking the read-write stats.

By default spew works mostly in a CLI-fashion, as opposed to the whole-screen approach you see above. We haven’t seen too many I/O tools for the console — not counting iotop, which was the first one I could think of offhand — so it’s probably a good idea to keep this one around.

The next time I get an ancient laptop and a wicked-slow hard drive, I’m going to hunt down spew and see what it can tell me. Next time. πŸ˜‰

netsniff-ng: More than I bargained for

I have only the rarest of occasions to need something like netsniff-ng, and trying it for just a brief moment this morning reminds me that I know very, very little about what really makes the whole world work.


I can see MAC addresses in there, and the IP addresses of my home network, but most of the rest is complete gibberish to me. I’m almost ashamed that even after all these years, things like netsniff-ng are so foreign. Almost. πŸ™„

netsniff-ng comes with quite a few additional tools, to include a couple of packet generators and a network monitor called ifpps that supposedly looks like top.

As luck would have it, that segfaulted every time I tried it in the Arch version, leaving me with only the command-line tools to look over. 😦

I have to give the same lukewarm blanket recommendation to netsniff-ng that I give to most other tools that I don’t really have a personal use for, and can’t approach except by way of a passing screenshot: If it looks appealing to you, give it a try.

Personally, I prefer something a little more animated and visual, but to each his own.

In Debian. In AUR. πŸ˜€

P.S.: I see now that my post from yesterday had the wrong date on it, and was published about an hour ago. You’d think I was new at this, for as many wacky problems as I’ve had lately. … 😳

horst: Not at all colorless, for your wireless

It’s been a while since I found a pure wireless monitor — in fact, I think the last one was WiFiScanner back in October, although you could say wifite had some scanning features, even if its purpose was a little different.

I’d like to say that horst is a monitor that ranks among the best, but I should probably tone that down just a little, and say that it’s among the best I’ve seen.

2015-01-11-6m47421-horst-01 2015-01-11-6m47421-horst-02 2015-01-11-6m47421-horst-03 2015-01-11-6m47421-horst-04 2015-01-11-6m47421-horst-05

After all, I tend to be a bit of a dunce when it comes to all the nitty gritty points about networking issues, and to complicate that, I am easily dazzled by flashy colors or bouncing ASCII graphs. Which makes me the least qualified judge of software, now that I think about it. … :\

In any case, horst does a lot of things right — a lot. Plenty of color, menu-driven, a thousand options controlled through pop-up menus, on-screen keyboard help, clean and efficient use of screen space … I could go on for a while.

In fact, I don’t know if I prefer horst or wavemon, the gold-standard tool for wireless monitoring and the utility I’ve been using to measure up just about everything wireless-ish since the beginning of 2013. 😯

So yes, horst is that good … to me at least. It may be that you have more knowledge about wireless technology and how it works, and therefore have another tool you prefer. In that case, I can only admit my shortcomings and endorse it as a well-designed, attractive and fully functional wireless monitor. Which is not empty praise.

horst is in Debian and AUR, but will take a little nudging to get working. The AUR package tries to assign horst to the group “horst,” which will cause the build to fail; edit out the group assignment and you can run it as root without difficulty.

Both versions will balk if your wireless interface isn’t set to monitor mode, so you’ll need to bring down your interface and set that with iwconfig (deviceid) mode monitor. I should mention that not all devices are created equal, so it may be that your physical hardware refuses to switch to that mode, in which case I think horst is not going to work for you.

Once that’s set, you should be able to run horst just with horst -i (deviceid) and enjoy all the text-based glitter. πŸ˜€ When you’re done, don’t forget to re-set your interface (probably to “managed”) so you can reconnect to your network. (I’m mentioning all these details for my benefit as well as yours; I’ll probably be scratching my head at some time in the future, wondering how I got horst running.)

Now that my daily dose of splashy color is out of the way, I can focus long enough to give out the first gold star of 2015: ⭐ Enjoy! πŸ˜€