Command Line Tools

Published on May 26, 2014
Different people like different tools, let's list some.

Last year I spent about 8 weeks on rotation with the Information Services team at my workplace. While the development and IS teams work quite closely together on some things, there are plenty of support, network and sysadmin tasks which happen in the background just to keep the business running, and this work tends to be handled mostly in IS.

I learned a great deal from this period, as you might expect when working in a new area with plenty of expert support available for when you (hourly) reach outide your comfort zone.

One observation that inspired me is that each individual has a very personal and different body of knowledge to draw on when it comes to UNIX programming and command line tools. Different engineers will choose different methods even for very simple tasks because of their differing past experience. It is also clear that in general, people in the development team have familiarity with a smaller command line toolset than members of IS.

Over the past few years I’ve been gradually realising just how helpful the command line tools can be in a UNIX-like environment (and as a corollary, how restricted and useless I feel on a Windows workstation). After my time with the IS team and also having read the experiences of Julia Evans at Hacker School, I decided to list commands which I use often or have had great success with.

While I may not end up keeping the list updated, I think it may be useful and amusing to try to document which tools I like most. It might also flag up areas in which I am more than usually weak so I can read up, and ask more questions of my excellent and tolerant colleagues :)

Go ahead and browse the list of tools if you like.