Tag Archives: network

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˜€

prettyping.sh: An irrefutably prettier ping

prettyping.sh is a very straightforward tool: It’s a shell script that gives a little more pizazz to the traditional ping tool.


And seeing that screenshot gives you 90 percent of what you can accomplish with prettyping.sh. By default, all of prettyping.sh’s flair is turned on, and with the few hard-wired options that have to be set for the translation to ping. It’s colorful, clean, nicely arranged and a breeze to use.

But as always, I must offer a few points that stick out. In the hope of course, that they will be smoothed over in the future.

First, the legend is visible by default, and as luck would have it, it’s intended for about 150 or 160 columns (I didn’t count it out exactly; please forgive me). That’s all fine and dandy, but I honestly am not sure how often I run a terminal of that width, especially for a ping tool. So I find myself omitting the legend, which is pretty, but a little skewed.

Second, prettyping.sh’s output is very much like spark, with gradated characters of set color arrangements representing ranges of values returned from ping. Fair enough, and I see a general logic to the legend.

The problem is probably obvious though: In a virtual console, you might not get that same effect. I tried it on a random machine in my collection, and what I got was a blotchy mess of unprintable boxes, in varying colors, both in the output and in the legend.

So you’re more or less trapped in an emulator if you decide to make regular use of prettyping.sh, which might mean you’re also trapped in a graphical environment. Which might defeat the purpose of this entire escapade. (Let me know if you try prettyping.sh in a framebuffer terminal emulator, and whether or not you get the correct effect. You might.)

Another caveat: The link above may or may not be the original prettyping.sh. Shell scripts, in my observation, get traded around like spare pencils, and sometimes contort without earning a new name. I know the link for prettyping-hg out of AUR points to a dead MyOpera page, so it might be that there are three or four variants around.

The link I gave at the start was one I found on my own, that led to a posted source. I see that it’s also the source link for the prettyping package in AUR.

I also wish someone had renamed it to pretty-ping.sh, because I see the word “typing” in there, every time I read it. How’s that for a shallow and pointless criticism? πŸ™„

If you can overlook these faults or eccentricities, prettyping.sh is a very nice text-based interface for watching pings over long periods of time. There are a lot of ping tools out there (we’ve seen plenty, even in recent weeks), so if it doesn’t suit you, there are options available. πŸ™‚

dothost and lddot: Looking good, feeling fine

Well, after a day or two of completely scrambling my scheduled posts — and even revisiting an application that I had already mentioned a year ago 😳 — I have some catching up to do.

Please accept this as a double post, and hopefully make up for a little lost ground. Here’s lddot and dothost, respectively, both from Jakub Wilk and both in AUR (but not in Debian).

2014-12-23-jsgqk71-lddot 2014-12-23-jsgqk71-dothost

Just because you prefer a text-based lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t be a visual learner. dothost and lddot both cater to that, by generating neatly arranged flowcharts with the help of Graphviz and perl-graph-easy.

By themselves, the output is strictly textual, so if you can’t get access to either of those ancillary programs, you won’t get all the pretties you see above. And it should go without saying that some of the more complex arrangements are going to require extensive screen real estate. Don’t expect them to squish everything into 80×24.

I suppose you could argue that neither offers much information that isn’t available through ordinary ldd-ish or traceroute-ish tools.

And judging by their help flags, neither tool is particularly flexible or extensive, beyond generating the plain text output required by the next program in line. So if you’re looking for something with a thousand tweaks all accessible by CLI flags and XML conf files … these probably aren’t it.

But you gotta admit: They’re looking good. πŸ˜‰

sonar.py: Sounds from the deep

I got sonar.py from a regular contributor who doesn’t like to be named, along with a note mentioning that it only does one small thing, and probably wouldn’t be too interesting on the whole.


Au contraire … I think it’s quite interesting, even if the best parts of sonar.py are lost in this medium. As you might have guessed, sonar.py mimics the Hollywood sonar-sound trope, playing a specific tone for both the ping and pong.

But the tipster was right on the other point — aside from that one audio pattern, sonar.py doesn’t show much information. Or rather, there are other ping utilities that show much more.

On the other hand, if you just want an audible for a server status, and don’t care so much about statistical analysis, sonar.py might be a good choice.

Now we just need a ping tool that plays The Bloop, and maybe a few more creepy noises. 😐

smbc: Don’t take my word for it

I have a screenshot of smbc — a/k/a samba commander, a/k/a Simple Samba Commander — to share, but I’ll be honest when I show it: I haven’t any more to tell about smbc than what you see here.


Reason being, smbc crashed spectacularly every time I used it in Mint, about two seconds after I hit the Enter key. If there is more to smbc than just the interface I see there, I never had time to check it out.

It’s probably not fair to mention it in such a poor light though; things that fail like this are invariably my fault. I don’t have a lot of experience with samba on the whole, and so probably the explosive nature of smbc is due to my error.

As a side note, with so little experience with samba and with only about four seconds of experience with smbc, I can only wonder if this is just a “network explorer,” or if it’s intended to compete with other text-based file managers on the market.

Regardless, I don’t see enough of it to know if it’s necessarily better than, for example, ranger or Midnight Commander, or if it has some special feature special to samba that makes it preferable.

I leave it to you to explore, since it will probably require a proper network arrangement and configuration before it can be properly assessed. Don’t take my experience as any indicator.

I should note that the homepage listed on the Debian package page is wrong, and points to a dead site. The Arch version (which wouldn’t build for me) has the link listed above.

WiFiScanner: Wonderfully geeky

I know this is foolish, but I love tools that have a lot of glitter and dash, even if I haven’t a single clue how to use them.

WiFiScanner is a program that apparently last saw updates way back in 2008, but still compiled for me in Arch, and with a little prodding, worked well:


The trick for me was to use the -C flag to specify the driver for my card, and to make sure the terminal was large enough. WiFiScanner wants plenty of space. πŸ™„

But I’m willing to coddle it this time, because the results were wonderfully geeky. Lots of flashing numbers, lots of data readouts spinning past in a blaze, little animated graphs, tons of statistics all ticking upward more and more. …

Of course, I haven’t a clue what it all means, but it’s great fun to watch.

I shouldn’t act so naive; I can read enough from the home page to know that WiFiScanner is a tool for … ahem, testing the security of wireless networks, and perhaps if I was more of a security geek, I’d know exactly what to do with all that information.

I can only think of one complaint about WiFiScanner, and that’s because I don’t know enough of how to use it that I might have real suggestions. Here’s my one complaint: The H key shows a help menu, but it’s interspersed with the flow of data in the lower half of the screen. So it zips off the display within seconds. That’s hardly helpful. 😦

If you really want to get your hands dirty with WiFiScanner, poke around in the doc folder of the the source package. There are complete instructions on how to build this in Debian and control it once it’s up and running. Provided you know what you’re doing with it, of course.

As it is, I’m just a babe in the woods, enjoying all the flickering lights and thinking how this would freak out the technophobes in my office, and make them think I was some sort of computer genius. πŸ˜€

Either that, or they’d have me arrested on some made-up hacker charge. :\

create_ap: Something to brighten your day

There aren’t a whole lot of things that overwhelm me any more with Linux; I’ve seen miracles happen and I know too many cool things are possible. Unless it’s something that I’ve run aground with personally, I will take for granted that this operating system can solve just about any issue.

I did get a pleasant surprise with create_ap today though. There’s not much I can show for it, aside perhaps from this screenshot:


And if you have experiences setting up software access points, that might not even enthuse you. For me, it was a far less painful process than picking through the Arch wiki to get one machine to relay its network connection through another.

And it worked exactly as it said it would, with all but the most trivial setup: Give your network a name. And now I have two or three machines (both Linux and Windows, if I must be honest) piped through a fourth, and reaching the world beyond.

Sorry if I sound over-enthusiastic. I am sure everything on the wiki page is a cake walk for some folks. But I can remember as far back as Internet Connection Sharing between Windows 98 and 2000 machines, and recall weeping over their obtuse refusals to work.

So a script like create_ap, that just makes it into a whiz-bang one-line magic trick, is pretty darned cool. And I can also testify that there have been times, even in the past year, when a machine without a proper ethernet port is suddenly just an expensive flyswatter, because there’s no wireless access in range. 😦

I should mention that there is a small hardware requirement — your wireless card has to allow itself to be put into master mode. One machine with an Intel PRO/2200 wouldn’t do it, but a PCMCIA card with an Atheros 5K chipset would. Good to know.

Either way, this I will definitely keep around, because it simplifies the procedure and prevents me from pulling out my hair. And hey, it just might put a smile on your face. It did that for me. :mrgreen:

warcarrier: Looks good, almost works

I thought the craze for randomly driving around town and poking into networks was over, but maybe it’s not. This is warcarrier, an ncurses application dedicated to just that.


I guess I shouldn’t label wardriving as a lost art just yet, and I’m willing to give warcarrier the benefit of the doubt, given my rotten track record for network tools — particularly ones dedicated to the subtler art of network security.

So my abortive attempt above, and my general ineptitude at getting the requisite gpsd running, are no sign that warcarrier is deficient. At least a I hope not. The screenshots on the home page are quite promising.

I should note that what you see up there is, of course, in Arch Linux, built off the warcarrier-svn package from AUR. The home page has instructions based on a Debian version apparently, but I also see that the last update to the svn trunk was about a year and a half ago.

I don’t know if any of those things contributed to my botched attempts, but I suppose they’re worth mentioning if you hit the same problems.

Aside from all that, warcarrier looks good, and seems to have a command of the task at hand. Even if I don’t.

As a side note, I see references to a warcarrierOS, but I can’t seem to find any download links, either on the home page or elsewhere. Perhaps it was an idea that didn’t come to fruition. If you see it somewhere, please send me the address.

Not that I’m interested in driving around town and poking at networks. Just that it seems well done, and I can appreciate that. πŸ™‚

httpry: Pry into your traffic

Network traffic analysis is a bit over my head, and since I generally only have single-user machines in the house, there’s no mystery about who accessed what site. For a better look at the innards though, httpry is a useful logging tool.

2014-09-12-6m47421-httpry-01 2014-09-12-6m47421-httpry-02

On the left, the tool at work; on the right, the fruits of its labor. As you can see, the log is mostly a plain-text dump of transactions, with relevant addresses and commands. In that sense, httpry is really just making a note of all the background noise that makes up your network traffic.

The home page for httpry says it’s not intended as an analytic tool, but it would be possible to perform some rudimentary filtering and screening with httpry, as you might guess from its options. There are also flags for specialized network settings, and for the daemon mode that httpry supports.

If you’re better attuned to network analysis than I, you’ll probably see some value in httpry, if only as a lightweight traffic logging tool. It can serve as the foundation for a more careful inspection, or just as a casual reminder that every interaction leaves a footprint or two. πŸ˜‰