Tag Archives: processor

mpstat: Quickdraw processor statistics

Back in April I brushed up against the sysstat suite while mentioning sar. sar is just one of a cluster of tools you get when you install sysstat; another one is mpstat.


mpstat shares some features with sar, mostly in its ability to generate processor statistics at intervals, and a set number of times. This is useful in the same way as sar, by allowing you to poll the processor when you know it will be taxed.

Commands are also similar; sar 2 5 will behave in the same way as mpstat 2 5, with some small but obvious variations.

Taking into account the other programs that are available in sysstat (some of which will come later), there’s not a huge difference between sar and mpstat, except perhaps in the specific processor data either one offers. By default, sar shows a little less, and mpstat shows a little more. But some is shared between the two.

And you can’t really appreciate it with this machine, but mpstat has the ability to split out its results according to processor. That might be important if you’re working with one of these. 😯 I keep watching the recycling shop, but nothing yet. …

mpstat‘s output is sparse enough and well-spaced enough that you might consider cramming it into some other application. colorwrapper, anyone? 😉

parallel: Working along the same lines

I have been messing with parallel all morning, trying to get it to do the same things that I see in the videos, tutorial and examples.

If you’ve not heard of it, parallel should (and by all accounts usually does) split CPU-intensive jobs across processors, which should drastically reduce the time they require to finish.

But I’m not getting much in the way of speed increases, and in some cases it seems to be taking longer.


I’ve tried most combinations I could think of, done them all again as root, even followed examples letter-for-letter from the explanatory videos.

But in almost every case I’m getting much the same performance from functions, so long as they don’t bottleneck at hard drive writes, or something like that.

The coolest thing about parallel — that of course I can’t take advantage of 🙄 — is that it can farm out work to other machines.

Yes, that’s what I meant. It can distribute the workload to networked computers and retrieve the results when they all finish.

I think that trumps xargs, which I often see mentioned in the same breath as parallel, because it will take a --max-procs argument and split out to several processors.

But hey, if I could set four computers on the task of compressing my family photos, I’d be all for that.

I’m going to keep tinkering with parallel and if I can get it working in a promising way, I’ll let it make cameos in future posts.

But you’ve got to earn a place on the big screen, friend. :mrgreen:

Microsoft Word 5.5 and WordPerfect 5.1: Say what?!

And WordStar, if I could have found it.

2014-01-25-lv-r1fz6-msw55 2014-01-25-lv-r1fz6-wp51

I know, it’s outrageous, but I have to mention it. And since it’s the M section, I might as well push through Microsoft Word and its contemporary, WordPerfect 5.1.

Yes, The Evil One will let you have version 5.5 of its ancient Word application gratis, right here. And yes, in DosBox (and probably other emulators), it works great.

WordPerfect, or WordStar, well … you might have to search around to find them.

I know these are real stretches to suggest they are “lightweight or minimalist software for Linux,” but I’m willing to loosen the definition.

And it might also be important to note that from a historical point of view, programs like this still carry some influence into the software of today.

I don’t suggest you fall back on a copy of DosBox and Microsoft Word just to edit your .bashrc file, but I have made stranger leaps in the name of science.

And hey, if that’s what works for you, I can find no fault.

P.S.: Don’t forget there are ways to convert Word formats … and more ways and more ways. …

enpi: Making the jump to the graphical

I was a little more than surprised the other day when I started digging around on the old blog, and realized I had never really shown enpi in action.

I see why though. Apparently, five and a half years ago, I was absorbed with WordGrinder and didn’t see much potential in enpi.


enpi does the job of translating simple text codes into specific commands for LaTeX.

As such, it really doesn’t stand as a word processor on its own … rather, it’s more a filter or a converter from simplified text to what LaTeX understands.

Which explains my lack of practical use five and a half years ago: I was looking for something to behave like Word 5.5, not just a conversion script.

I will give enpi credit though. As you can see above, it does an impressive job.

But all the actual word processing is going to require an outside application, i.e., the text editor of your choice. So technically speaking, it’s true: enpi isn’t a word processor.

enpi has some other limitations. As far as I could tell, you’re limited to two (three?) fonts and three point sizes. There are subscripts, superscripts and a lot of font effects though.

Some characters jam up enpi, and as a result you can get error messages in the conversion process and garbage characters in the final PDF. Curly quotes, for one, give enpi a headache.

On the other hand, I don’t know of too many applications — scripts or otherwise — that can give you such lovely output with a minimum of effort like this. And not force you to learn an entire new application, commands, etc.

So for enpi, I say huzzah. 😉

P.S., pay close attention to the packages you’ll need to run enpi. And also note that enpi can work alongside joe, if you want a more word-processor-like experience. 😉

cpulimit: You figure out why

I have another one of those programs that I’m not really sure why I would need it.

I can see the how, and I know the what, but the why eludes me. Regardless, this is cpulimit.


I get the general gist: cpulimit chokes the CPU usage of a process. I did my best to show it in action there, but Firefox had already loaded the page by the time the screenshot snapped.

It did stay under 50 percent, which was the limit I gave it. Whether that’s because of cpulimit or because of dumb luck, I can’t say.

So best I can tell, it works. I know what it’s for, I know how to use it.

But I honestly am not sure when I would put this to use. The home page says batch processing, but usually I’m trying to power through my batch processing, not limit it.

Oh well. There are many things about computers that I don’t understand. I can add one more to the list and it won’t make me feel like less of a person. 😉

Coherent PDF Tools: PDF power at the CLI

Some of you aren’t going to like this next one. Here’s cpdf, from the demonstration version of the Coherent PDF tools.


I had to hesitate myself when I saw this wasn’t the “normal” Linux style of software — available as source code, GPL licensed, etc., etc.

But I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. And really, I think it does a pretty good job, for what I’ve seen.

Command-line PDF tools, aside from conversion utilities like archmage, seem scant. I’ve only used cpdf a few times, but it seems to have most of the PDF editing tools covered.

Among its tools, you can split, merge, rotate, encrypt, scale, compress, watermark, annotate, list fonts … and reverse most of those actions, plus more. It seems quite intuitive, with an in- and out-file flag system, page ranges, natural language cues for “even” or “odd” pages, and so forth.

Short of viewing a PDF file, this might be the answer to batch adjusting large groups of PDFs, or managing complex processing on one or two at a time.

As far as its license and redistribution … well, your conscience can be your guide. 😐

wordgrinder: Same as it ever was

I must admit a little disappointment (dare I say sadness?) when I run across an application that I enjoyed using a long time ago, but has fallen … out of favor with its developers.

wordgrinder is one of those, and while I won’t go into much detail (because I went into extreme detail a few years ago), I had to check and see if it had made any progress in that time.


Unfortunately no. Don’t get me wrong: It still works, and it’s apparently still in the repos for Debian (the AUR version won’t build for me, but I can handle that).

It’s just in the same state it was half a decade ago, with no apparent updates or improvements. Sigh. 😦

So what, you say? So what if it’s out of development, because (insert favorite text editor here) does all that, and can fold and color-sync my code and compile from within the editor?

Well … because (insert favorite text editor here) is just that — a text editor. wordgrinder is designed as a writing tool, and as someone who doesn’t code, fold or compile (much), it’s a good tool for writing.

wordgrinder is a word processor, for processing words. Text editors are for editing text. Those two things are not always the same.

Regardless, it was worth mentioning again. In its present, “final” state it is very usable, but lacks a few finishing features. If you want to get better acquainted with it, check out the sassy how-to some dork wrote five years ago. … 😕