Commands by birnam (4)

What's this? is the place to record those command-line gems that you return to again and again. That way others can gain from your CLI wisdom and you from theirs too. All commands can be commented on, discussed and voted up or down.

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Find the package that installed a command

Optimal way of deleting huge numbers of files

Function to change prompt
Bash function to change your default prompt to something simpler and restore it to normal afterwards.

Updated top ten memory utilizing processes (child/instance aggregation) now with percentages of total RAM
Prints the top 10 memory consuming processes (with children and instances aggregated) sorted by total RSS and calculates the percentage of total RAM each uses. Please note that since RSS can include shared libraries it is possible for the percentages to add up to more that the total amount of RAM, but this still gives you a pretty good idea. Also note that this does not work with the mawk version of awk, but it works fine with GNU Awk which is on most Linux systems. It also does not work on OS X.

Key binding to search
This is a simple bash function and a key binding that uses commandlinefu's simple and easy search API. It prompts for a search term, then it uses curl to search commandline fu, and highlights the search results with less.

Find usb device in realtime
Using this command you can track a moment when usb device was attached.

Getting started with tcpdump
At some point you want to know what packets are flowing on your network. Use tcpdump for this. The man page is obtuse, to say the least, so here are some simple commands to get you started. -n means show IP numbers and don't try to translate them to names. -l means write a line as soon as it is ready. -i eth0 means trace the packets flowing through the first ethernet interface. src or dst w.x.y.z traces only packets going to or from IP address w.x.y.z. port 80 traces only packets for HTTP. proto udp traces only packets for UDP protocol. Once you are happy with each option combine them with 'and' 'or' 'not' to get the effects you want.

List the size (in human readable form) of all sub folders from the current location
Simple and easy to remember. -h is human, -d1 = depth 1. disk usage, human, depth 1

Calculate days on which Friday the 13th occurs (inspired from the work of the user justsomeguy)
Friday is the 5th day of the week, monday is the 1st. Output may be affected by locale.

easily find megabyte eating files or directories
sorts the files by integer megabytes, which should be enough to (interactively) find the space wasters. Now you can $ dush for the above output, $ dush -n 3 for only the 3 biggest files and so on. It's always a good idea to have this line in your .profile or .bashrc

Stay in the loop…

Follow the Tweets.

Every new command is wrapped in a tweet and posted to Twitter. Following the stream is a great way of staying abreast of the latest commands. For the more discerning, there are Twitter accounts for commands that get a minimum of 3 and 10 votes - that way only the great commands get tweeted.


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Use your favourite RSS aggregator to stay in touch with the latest commands. There are feeds mirroring the 3 Twitter streams as well as for virtually every other subset (users, tags, functions,…):

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