tip of the trade Tag Index

Work Smarter With Virtual Assistants

Assistants are no longer just for execs. With a virtual assistant, you can hand off repetitive tasks and focus on the work that matters. Fancy Hands and Amazon's Mechanical Turk are two examples of affordable assistants, each effective at meeting a different set of needs.


Tags: Amazon, prioritizing, tip of the trade

Use s3cmd for Managing Amazon S3 Storage from the CLI

If you're looking to script backups or other operations, a reliable CLI tool that works with S3 is a must. s3cmd fits the bill.


Tags: command line, Amazon, backup, S3, online backup, tip of the trade, online storage

There's a New GNU fdisk in Town

The latest GNU fdisk is now in alpha. Not anywhere ready for production, but ready for the adventurous to take out for a spin.


Tags: open source tool, alpha, GNU, tip of the trade

Kernel Developers Share Security Tips

Learn tips for keeping your Linux system safe in this post-kernel.org-breach world.


Tags: tip of the trade, SSH, Kernel.org, security, Linux security

Give Yourself a Menu in Vim

Completing filenames when using Vim in command mode can be tricky. These tips will make it a simpler task.


Tags: command line, vim, tip of the trade, open source tool

User Limits Made Easy

Linux admins looking for an easy way to set hard and soft limits for users will find much to like about the pam_limits module. With pam_limits, you can set parameters on system resources on a per-user (or per-group) basis for all variables--from the maximum number of files a user can have open to the amount of CPU time.


Tags: Linux Server Management, open source tool, tip of the trade

A Look at the Compgen Bash Builtin

Linux and other Unix-type systems contain a wealth of features under the surface. Oftentimes, however, these features are non-obvious and hard to find. Compgen, a GNU Bash builtin that shows all possible completions, is one such feature.


Tags: Linux, bash, open source tool, GNU, tip of the trade

Boost WordPress Performance With W3 Total Cache

Is your hardware inadequate for your site? Throwing more resources at it may not be the best answer. For WordPress sites, W3 Total Cache is an inexpensive way to wring the most out of what you already have.


Tags: Wordpress, cache, tip of the trade, open source tool, open source software

Kill Processes Quickly With Slay

Most admins know kill and pkill. But those looking for a quick, clean kill use slay.


Tags: Linux, Ubuntu, tip of the trade, utility, open source tool

Check WordPress for Exploits

WordPress is one of the most popular CMSes, which means it is among the more commonly exploited. Use the Exploit Scanner plugin to help lock it down.
Tags: Wordpress, tip of the trade, security, exploits, plugin

Rename and Copy Files Easily in Your Text Editor

Renameutils is aptly named. The easy-to-use collection of utilities makes renaming files as easy as using your favorite text editor.
Tags: open source software, open source tool, text editor, tip of the trade, utility

Try collectlfor System Monitoring

When it comes to collecting system status data, sar is a veritable workhorse. It is not, however, without its limitations. If you're in the market for a utility that also handles NFS, Slab data, and sub-second intervals, consider collectl.
Tags: open source software, Data Center Management Software, monitoring software, tip of the trade

Whip Up Regular Expressions With Txt2regex

Understanding regular expressions is important for anyone who spends time doing system administration or programming. If that describes you and regexes are not your strong suit, txt2regex is an excellent tool to have handy.
Tags: open source software, tip of the trade, open source tool

Get to Know Debian Goodies

For admins who work with Debian-based systems, the basics dpkg and APT's tools are old hat. For a richer user experiences, like knowing which packages have release-critical bugs, hog the most disk space and so on, Debian Goodies is a set of utilities that's good to know.
Tags: Linux, open source tool, Debian, OS, tip of the trade

Load Testing and Benchmarking With Siege

Ready to roll out a site, but not sure how it will perform in real-world use? Consider Siege, an open source load-testing and benchmarking utility that will help stress test your setup before exposing it to the world.
Tags: testing tool, tip of the trade, benchmark, Linux server, open source software

5 Tips for Managing RPMs

Fedora or RHEL users working with RPMs will find these 5 little-known features to be of great value.
Tags: open source software, RHEL, Fedora, open source tool, tip of the trade

Detach Processes With Disown and Nohup

Have a long-running job you want to "detach" from the terminal? Don't use tmux or Screen? If you haven't started the job yet, nohup is an easy to use option, and if you must stop a job in the middle, there's disown.
Tags: Linux, screen, tip of the trade, open source software

DenyHosts: Keep on Knocking but You Can't Come In

DenyHosts makes it easy to ward off unauthorized SSH connection attempts. The utility blocks attempts to connect to your server via SSH after too many failed attempts or from a blacklisted host.
Tags: open source software, tip of the trade, security, SSH

Discover Rootkits With Unhide

When your system is rooted, you can't trust most utilities to show processes from the rootkit. To identify the problem, check out unhide and unhide.rb.
Tags: open source tool, rootkit, tip of the trade, open source software, security

Track Multiple Files Simultaneously With MultiTail

The tail utility is one of the most useful admin tools, but it's limited and outdated. Bring your log-watching capabilities into the 21st century and view multiple logs at one time with MultiTail.
Tags: open source tool, open source software, tip of the trade

Simplify Perl Module Management With CPAN Minus

Perl may not be glamorous, but its modules are often hard to avoid. Oftentimes, the standard CPAN shell makes using them more difficult than it needs to be. If that's the case for you, consider switching to CPAN Minus.
Tags: open source software, tip of the trade, perl

Use Telnet to Troubleshoot

Telnet remains a useful, albeit insecure, way to troubleshoot Linux-powered servers.
Tags: troubleshooting, smtp, tip of the trade, telnet, Linux server

Introduction to tmux: A GNU Screen Alternative

Need to run multiple sessions in the same terminal but aren't fond of screen? Consider tmux, open source software that offers Emacs and vi-style keybindings.
Tags: screen, open source software, open source tool, tip of the trade, GNU

Start Taming Your Mutt

Mutts can be lovable companions, but they still must be trained. The same is true of the Mutt mail client. Out of the proverbial box it's a powerful mail client, but that's nothing compared to what you can do with a well-trained Mutt.
Tags: open source software, mail server, Linux, tip of the trade, mutt

Sudo 1.8 Brings Pluggable Policies to Root Access Control

If Sudo is part of your toolkit, and it should be, it's time to upgrade and start taking advantage of the new features in this latest version.
Tags: policy management, open source software, tip of the trade, sudo

Using msmtp as a Lightweight SMTP Client

Need a quick and dirty replacement for Sendmail or Postfix? Running Mutt and don't want to set up a full-blown MTA? Consider msmtp, a lightweight SMTP client with a Sendmail-compatible interface.
Tags: smtp, postfix, mutt, email, tip of the trade

Use OfflineIMAP to Sync Email on the Go

Having a working email system in place is key to the lifeblood of most system administrators. Those looking beyond Outlook will find much to like in Mutt, particularly OfflineIMAP, whose functionality is exactly as its name implies.
Tags: tip of the trade, Outlook, Gmail, email

Generate Secure Passwords With Pwgen

Coming up with good passwords is never easy. Enter Pwgen, a utility that generates random (but pronounceable) passwords.
Tags: tip of the trade, security, password, Security practices, Linux

Setting Up Linux Cgroups

Initially developed to limit resource usage in the Linux kernel, cgroups can do much more than that. Unfortunately, as handy as they are, cgroups are neither straightforward nor user friendly. Scaling the learning curve to set up and manage them is well worth it, however. These basic tips will get you started.
Tags: Linux, server os, open source software, open source tool, tip of the trade

More Yum Plugins: Security and Package Priority

Yum Plugins make it easy to extend the open source tool's functionality. The security plugin and the priorities plugins are a great place to start.
Tags: open source, open source software, open source tool, tip of the trade, security

Managing Yum Plugins

Yum is one of the most widely used package management tools, but many users don't know that Yum has a plugin system to extend its capabilities. Learn how to add some very useful features by extending this open source tool.
Tags: tip of the trade, Linux, Fedora, open source tool, open source software

Two Open Source Software Alternatives to Cron

Looking to avoid Cron? Hcron and the at utility are two tools that make it easy to bypass Cron in favor of other open source software alternatives.
Tags: open source software, open source tool, cron, tip of the trade, Linux

Using Powertop to Lower System Power Usage

If you've been wondering what's sucking the life out of your Linux laptop's battery or driving those higher electric bills in the server room, be sure to check out Powertop. The popular Linux tool profiles systems to help determine which programs are using the most power.
Tags: power management, open source software, tip of the trade, open source, open source tools

Using Taskset for Priority Tasks

A tisket, a tasket, be sure to use the open source server tool taskset for priority tasks.
Tags: open source tools, Linux server, tip of the trade, taskset

Using lsof to Find Open Files

lsof is one of the most useful utilities for Linux and Unix systems. At its most basic, lsof can help identify which files are being used by any given application and which network ports are open.
Tags: tip of the trade, lsof, open source servers, OS, utility

Check Apache Server Status From a Web Page

Want to see how your server is doing without SSH'ing into the system? One way to do this is to set up a Web page that shows the status of your Apache server. Here's how to get started.
Tags: SSH, apache web server, open source server, tip of the trade, Apache server

Adding Users and Aliases for Postfix

Postfix is a great mailer, but if you're new to administering it, finding your way around can be difficult. Here's how to get started.
Tags: postfix, tip of the trade, mail server, open source server, mailing list server

Absolutely Essential Vim/vi Commands

When it comes to remote system administration, all roads lead to Vim. While Vim's capabilities are vast -- entire books have been written about it, and they still fail to capture all of its functionality -- knowing a handful of commands will enable you to do much of what you need to do.
Tags: open source servers, command line, vim, open source software, tip of the trade

Using Strace to Trace Problems

If you're having trouble figuring out why a program keeps crashing and burning, consider Strace, an easy-to-use diagnostic tool. More experienced users will find Strace handy for performance testing and more.
Tags: tip of the trade, utility, OS, open source tools, open source software

Make GNU Screen Your Default Shell

GNU Screen is incredibly helpful, but like any tool, it must be running to be of use. Rather than starting a job and thinking, 'I wish I'd started Screen first,' why not configure Screen so it starts by default when you log in to your server? Here's how.
Tags: open source, tip of the trade, open source tool, screen, GNU

Meet Open Source Server Messaging Needs With GroupServer

Need both mailing list and forum software but don't want to chose one over the other? Consider this open source server hybrid.
Tags: tip of the trade, open source software, mail server, forums, messaging server

Byobu: Like Screen, but Better

Enhance Screen on your screen with Byobu, open source software that makes Screen more user friendly and functional.
Tags: open source software, tip of the trade, Ubuntu Server, screen, Debian

Open Source Windows SSH Client Delivers Security Boost

The Windows SSH client, PuTTY, is incredibly useful and becomes even more so when set up with a private/public keypair.
Tags: open source software, Windows, tip of the trade, security, SSH

Gnome-do: Open Source Software App Launcher

Gnome-do is an open source software solution to getting things done. The Gnome application launcher enables users to specify particular actions to take on whatever file or application they wish.
Tags: tip of the trade, OS, open source software, Gnome, Linux desktop

Identifying Disk Space

When disks fill up, strange errors occur. Determine if and where you have a disk space shortage, and learn how to resolve it.
Tags: open source software, disk, disk space, tip of the trade

Single vs. Double Quotes in Bash

When using Bash, the decision to use single quotes or double quotes depends on exactly what you want to do. Find out what each does and when to use them.
Tags: open source software, bash, open source, tip of the trade, OS

Ranger: Console-Based File Management

The ncurses-based file manager Ranger is a console tool worth checking out and taking the time to learn.
Tags: file management, Debian, Ubuntu, console management, tip of the trade

Open Source Software Scripting in Vim

Get even more out of the open source software editor, Vim, by taking advantage of its scripting capabilities.
Tags: tip of the trade, open source software, vim, scripting

Accessing WebDAV as a Filesystem With davfs2

Most admins know WebDAV, but davfs2 isn't as well known. With this open source software tool, you can connect to WebDAV server as a regular filesystem, thus allowing applications that don't support WebDAV to access shared resources via WebDAV.
Tags: open source software, OS, tip of the trade, open source servers, file system

Get the Most Out of Bash History

Tip of the Trade: Type 'history' at the Bash command prompt, and you'll get a list of your previous commands. Sure, you can scroll up and down to find the ones you're looking for, but did you know there are faster ways to find what you need as well as handy shortcuts to making use of them.
Tags: OS, open source software, bash, history, tip of the trade

Open Source Software Shortcut, Permanently Storing Macros in Vim

Tip of the Trade: If you find yourself using the same commands over and over between Vim session, it's time to consider permanently saving your macros.
Tags: tip of the trade, open source software, OS, vim, macro

One-Handed Workarounds -- The Programmers Guide to Typing With a Broken Thumb

Tip of the Trade: The value of an opposable thumb is more keenly felt when it can't be used. Fortunately, for programmers who can't leave their keyboards, there are tools to mitigate the problem. Here are two websites to check out should you find yourself in this predicament.
Tags: vim, Mac OS X, programmers, tip of the trade

Crontab Entries for Unix or Linux Servers Made Simple

If you've ever had to stop and check the manpage to get the crontab syntax correct for your Unix or Linux server, here's a Web site that will save you lots of time.
Tags: tip of the trade, Unix server, Linux server, cron

Open-Source Software Shortcut, Excluding Directories From Grep

Tip of the Trade: Want to use Grep without including some directories? Here's a simple, yet efficient way, for the open-source software to find what you're looking for.
Tags: open-source software, open-source, OS, tip of the trade, grep

Annotating PDFs With the Open-Source Software Package Okular

Tip of the Trade: If you've ever felt the need to scribble notes on your PDFs without bringing dead trees into the equation, consider the open-source software, Okular, a KDE document reader that can read multiple document formats and allows the user to annotate files as she reads.
Tags: tip of the trade, Ubuntu Server, OS, Ubuntu, PDF

Ignoring Files and Directories in Subversion for Easier Linux Server Management

Tip of the Trade: Finding a way to ignore files or directories in Subversion so they are not included in svn status output is easy; figuring out the exact syntax is not. Here's are way to simplify this Linux server management quagmire.
Tags: tips, Linux, tip of the trade, Subversion

Set Up a VNC Linux Server in 5 Easy Steps

Tip of the Trade: VNC makes it easy to log into a full desktop on a remote server. Follow these steps, and your Debian Linux server will be up and running in no time.
Tags: Linux, SSH, Debian, tip of the trade

Perl and the Flip-Flop Operator

Tip of the Trade: The flip-flop operator in Perl is quite useful for comparing arguments, but it does have some surprising quirks.
Tags: perl, Linux, OS, tip of the trade

Dealing With Mail in Mutt

Tip of the Trade: The command-line mail client mutt may be old school, but it features a wide range of keyboard commands that can be used for various useful tasks.
Tags: mail server, tip of the trade, tips

Saving ssh Keys on Mac OS X Leopard

Tip of the Trade: ssh-agent makes it possible to avoid having to type in a passphrase for each login. Helpfully, since the Leopard release on Mac OS X this functionality is built straight in.
Tags: Mac OS X, security, tip of the trade, tips

Forwarding a Postfix Virtual Alias to /dev/null

Tip of the Trade: Sometimes you want to use a "do-not-reply" type of email address and you don't want to have to mass-delete the mailbox at intervals. Here's an easy way to add a Postfix virtual alias to /dev/null.
Tags: tip of the trade, postfix, email

Linux Google Chrome Shines

Tip of the Trade: When it comes to Linux, Google Chrome may be far from gold, but it sure is shiny -- and fast.
Tags: Ubuntu, Debian, Google Chrome, Chrome, tip of the trade

Topics for Mailman

Tip of the Trade: Juliet Kemp discovers and explores Topics in the mailing list server, Mailman. With Topics, subscribing to a list becomes more than an all or nothing proposition.
Tags: mail server, list server, mailman, tip of the trade, GNU/Linux

The Many Uses of Screen

Tip of the Trade: There's much to love about Screen. Besides enabling cutting and pasting, the utility can be used to monitor a window for output, mirror another session, lock the screen and more.
Tags: screen, tip of the trade

Cut and Paste With Screen

Tip of the Trade: Mouse-clicks may be synonymous with cut-and-paste, but in a non-graphical environment, they won't help you. Enter Screen, which among its many useful tricks, enables non-graphical cut-and-paste.
Tags: tip of the trade, screen

Why Cron Is Better Than a String Around Your Finger

Tip of the Trade: Mailing reminders to yourself is an easy way to remember something that easily slips your mind. Using Cron with mail is one way to facilitate this.
Tags: OS, cron, tip of the trade

Top 3 Non-graphical Browser Options

Sometimes you need Web access but don’t want a graphical browser. Here are three programs, some of which you probably already have, to get you started.
Tags: OS, troubleshoot, programming, browser, tip of the trade

Run Multiple Debian Versions Simultaneously

Tip of the Trade: Meet apt -- the best-kept secret for keeping up with the Debian release cycle.
Tags: Linux, Debian, tip of the trade, OS

Bash, in Color

Tip of the Trade: A little color on the command line makes things easier to read.
Tags: bash, OS, tip of the trade

Tail More Than One File at a Time

Tip of the Trade: MultiTail makes it possible to watch two files simultaneously in real-time.
Tags: tip of the trade, OS

Rescuing a Lost Root Password

Tip of the Trade: Ever take over a machine for which the root password has been lost? Here are three possible ways to get the information you need to be up and running.
Tags: tip of the trade, passwords, OS

lsof, sockets and trojans

Tip of the Trade: lsof is a handy way to check for security problems or keep an eye on how your machines are interacting with the wider internet.
Tags: lsof, tip of the trade, Linux, trojan, security