Tag Archives: manager

ndn: And memories of the past

About a month ago, StreaK left a note about ndn, a/k/a Necromancer’s DOS Navigator. I might catch some flak for this, but I saved it for last, before the shop closes down.

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Introductions first. ndn has a precompiled Linux version that you see there, and as you might expect from the screenshots, I find it quite enjoyable. You can see the two-panel menu-based approach that hearkens back to Midnight Commander and its predecessor, Norton Commander.

ndn takes that style and adds multiple window support, a healthy smattering of disk functions (like renaming a volume, like you see above), separate histories for command line and panel activity, and a lot of other tricks. Most everything is driven by a popup dialogue, which I always appreciate.

Even more amazing, ndn adds in a calculator, a calendar, a phone book (remember, this has history back to the modem era), and a lot more. If you try ndn, take your time with the “Utilities” menu, but don’t be shy about the others either.

Much of what ndn can do is arranged by submenu, and that makes it mostly easy to follow. There are also provisions for user-defined menus, and a special function menu just for Linux tasks.

With all that going for it, I still have a few small problems to report. First, as you can probably see if you look close at the screenshots, I’m getting some screen artifacts when I run the precompiled version in Arch. I don’t blame anyone for that; it’s a distraction, but it’s just the nature of the beast.

Second, there are some obvious leftover “tools” and “menus” from the DOS era. The letter strip you see along the bottom of each panel clearly corresponds to drive labels under Windows, and double-clicking on one in Linux just drops you into /dev/, which doesn’t really help.

It would be nice if that area instead showed mountpoints or even polled devices like sda1, sdb1, sr0 and so forth. As it is, that strip is wasted space. Add to wasted space: Displaying file names in the same color as the background for certain file types. That’s an unfortunate oversight. :\

ndn is also a very powerful suite of tools, and will take a lot of time to learn all the commands. But to complicate things, it appears there are different controls when running under X and when in a virtual console. Keyboard navigation seems disabled under X, meaning you have to do all your selections and menu action with the mouse. On the other hand, gpm was no help in a console.

Those are the main reasons I was hesitant to include ndn in this list: It seems a lot of its functions will hinge on graphical support. Which makes it not much better than undistract-me, which we talked about a few days ago.

And why save it for last, you ask? Nostalgia, mostly. If you remember the text-only era and the parade of file managers and disk checkers that all ran within consoles and had no graphical support, ndn is like a trip down memory lane. Popup menus drawn and shaded in hashed boxes, menu bars triggered with ALT+letters, and F-row hotkeys will take you back to the software of 30 years ago … all the way down to the color scheme. It’s a good feeling.

So if you take issue with a leftover DOS file manager, overstocked with utilities and rather haphazardly converted to Linux, appearing here at all, that’s my excuse: It reminds me of other times. πŸ™‚

ol: One last editor and outliner

A long time ago, I used to keep notes and lists with a normal, everyday text editor, and just draw up a outline format if I needed to show some sort of structure or to-do checkboxes.

Sometime around 2008 or 2009, I found two new applications that quickly took over those roles — one was vimwiki, which I may only need for another day or two, and hnb. hnb was on my system, in spite of its age, for a long five years until I found tudu last summer.

hnb and tudu (and the emacs and vim plugins that do much the same thing) are not the only hierarchical note-takers available. You can add ol to that list, with my endorsement … whatever that’s worth. πŸ™„


ol stands for “Outliner Lighto,” if the home page is to be believed. And what you see in that image is probably the best snapshot of what it does and how it works.

Arrow keys will navigate through a tree, and leaf nodes expand when you navigate through them. Press “d” to delete a note and all its children, Enter to edit a note, “t” to convert it to a checkbox for to-do lists, “x” to mark a task as done, and so forth. The empty file startup screen will give you help and instructions, if you need it.

Probably one of my favorite things about ol is the cut-and-paste action, or better called the “grab” function. Press “g” and you carry a note with you through the tree, allowing you to arrange and rearrange to your heart’s desire.

Since the display effectively updates as you navigate, it’s a lot easier to organize and visualize than the traditional cut-and-paste model. I like that a lot more than tudu’s way, which borrows yank-and-paste style of vim. And you know how I feel about vim. πŸ‘Ώ

ol is also colorful, even going so far as to assign colors to note depths, which is another wise evolution. hnb and tudu haven’t picked up that idea yet, and it’s one that is probably worth adopting.

I see that ol is written in pascal, which strikes me as unusual, but also completely irrelevant to using the program. As an added bonus, if you’re an hnb user and decide to use this moment to emigrate, there’s a utility that will convert hnb’s text format to a style ol can use.

ol doesn’t have some of the more detailed functions of tudu — like displaying a percentage complete for to-do lists, or allowing extended notes, deadlines and schedule dates. ol probably won’t dethrone tudu for me, for those reasons. I find with tudu that I can rely less on wyrd now too.

That alone is no reason to deny ol the gold star it deserves — for a clean interface, plenty of startup help, easy controls and a few innovative ideas for hierarchical list tools. Don’t spend it all in one place: ⭐ Enjoy! πŸ™‚

greg: You’re so vain

Everyone named “Greg” out there in the world can now sit up straight and imagine this little program is named in their honor.


I was introduced to greg after yesterday’s note about podcastxdl, and in spite of its lack of color and command-action-target input style, I think I like it better than the latter.

Of course, that screenshot isn’t very interesting, but what you see there is a lot of the way greg works. It maintains a list of podcasts and addresses, and you can wrangle them with fairly straightforward actions.

greg add adds to that list. greg remove drops it off, after you confirm it. greg check sees if anything is updated, and greg sync synchronizes your local folder with what’s available online. Like I said, it’s fairly straightforward.

I don’t see anything offhand that disappoints me about greg. I ran into no errors except when I fed it an invalid link, and it warned me that it wasn’t going to work. And aside from the lack of color and lack of an “interface,” it seems to work perfectly without my empty-headed suggestions.

So there’s greg, which we can add to the meager list of podcast aggregators for the console. Now do you see it? “greg”? “aggregator”? Aha. … πŸ˜‰

podcastxdl: One-shot downloads for your ears

There are not many podcast tools I can mention, in the years spent spinning through console-based software. In fact, I can think of only about four. But here’s one you can add to your list, if you’re keeping one: PodcastXDL.

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PodcastXDL works in a similar fashion to podget, which you might remember from a looong time ago. Give PodcastXDL a url and a file type, and it should parse through the stream and pull down everything that matches.

It can also spit out links, meaning you can use PodcastXDL to supply links to files, rather than download them. There are also command-line options to start or stop at specific points in a feed, which might be helpful for cropping out older files.

I’ll be honest and say I had a few difficulties working with PodcastXDL, most notably that it didn’t accept my target download directory. If you run into issues with PodcastXDL and nothing seems to be arriving, I would suggest leaving off any -d argument.

Other than that small hiccup, PodcastXDL did what it promised, and I ran into no major issues. It has good color, plenty of options and has seen updates within the past month or so, if you shy away from dated software.

If you need something quick and one-shot for podcast downloads, this could work for you and is better looking than podget was. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive and with more of an interface, stick with podbeuter.

groove-dl: Jumping the shark

I was tempted to skip over groove-dl because my list of stream ripper tools is starting to devolve into a tool-per-service array, and when things become discrete and overly precise, I start to fall toward the same rules that say, “no esoteric codec playback tools.”


I can’t complain too loudly though, because things like gplayer and soma are past titles that were more or less constrained to one site or service, and suddenly chopping off a portion of The List wouldn’t be fair.

But it wouldn’t be a terrible disservice, since most of what I was able to discover about groove-dl is encapsulated in that screenshot. Follow the command with a search string, and groove-dl will return a list of matches and the option to download a song.

Very straightforward, but also very rudimentary. Beyond the first 10 results, there’s no apparent way to continue through search. groove-dl itself doesn’t have any command flags that I could find; in fact, using -h or --help just pushed those strings through as search terms. Entering a blank line just brings groove-dl to a halt. Entering an invalid character causes a python error message. And yet entering a number beyond the list (like 12 or something) starts a download of some unidentified tune that matched your search, but wasn’t shown on screen. Go figure. :\

groove-dl will allow you to pick multiple targets though, and does use a generic but informative download progress bar to follow your selections. I can’t complain about that. And I see that there is a graphical interface, and it may be that there are more functions available to you from that rendition, than in the text-only interface.

But overall, with such a narrow focus and a narrow field of options and wide array of ways to confound it, I think there might be other, better utilities around for pulling tracks from Grooveshark.

groove-dl is in AUR but not Debian. If you try to install it, you’ll also need python-httplib2, which wasn’t included in the PKGBUILD. Happy grooving. πŸ˜‰

note: A noteworthy application

Note-taking tools are in abundance at the console, and some of them are so simple as to be almost rudimentary. Even I am guilty of stashing a few oddball commands in a flat text file called “tricks,” and just grepping through it when I need to find something.

The irony of that is that there are many other applications that would do much the same thing, and have internal tools that would save me time and trouble. note, for example, has a clean and easy to manage format, and an interactive mode to boot.


You can kick note into action with just the note command and a flag or two, or you can access its primary functions through the captive interface, like above. Add a note or edit a note, and you drop into your $EDITOR … and I always like it when note-taking tools do that.

Afterward, you can delete notes or even search through them, and you don’t have to rely on shell commands or external programs, unless you want to.

note also supports a “hierarchical” structure that it calls “topics.” If the first line of your note shows a topic path — like “/Wash/dog/” — note will arrange it and list it in topical sequence. This isn’t quite as elaborate as what hnb or tudu can do, but it’s a nice feature.

note has a few other configurations worth mentioning, and the man page is there to walk you through most of them. I was able to install and start using note in a matter of minutes, so unless you need very explicit and esoteric features, it should have replaced your flat-file-plus-grep in very short time.

I don’t see any features on prioritizing, check-box to-do lists, or advanced sorting and management. It may be that those features are better implemented in other tools.

What else should I say … ? In AUR. In Debian. And I’m almost embarrassed it took me this long to find it. 😐

connman and connman-ncurses: Pros and cons

These days I don’t have much installed in the category of “network connection manager,” even if I’ve seen plenty over the past two years. For a while I was a wicd fan, but the last time I checked wicd had stalled, and nothing really stepped up to replace it.

So in most cases, particularly if it’s not a terrifically complicated effort, I just use Arch’s wifi-menu or hand-manage connections with iwconfig and friends.

For an all-around suite of controls and connections, connman seems to do a good job. In its most primitive state, one-word commands will tell it what you want done with a network interface, and it’s more or less straightforward.

For a more replete user experience, connman-ncurses would be my suggestion.


That’s more to my liking. Straightforward keyboard controls and intuitive design, nice use of available space, and … well, I guess no color. 😦 But you can’t have everything. :\

Much of what connman-ncurses does can be inferred from onscreen tips, although I did refer to the git page once or twice, especially when I realized connman-ncurses (or probably connman) can disable your wireless at a keypress. And at some point, I must have pressed that key. πŸ™„

A decent addition to your text-only arsenal. Not in color, and with a few eccentricities to learn, but a lot of programs are like that. It’s worthy of a try or two. πŸ˜‰