Apr 04, 2019

21 min read

13 smart terminal tools to level up your Linux servers

Written by

Vippy The VPS

Developers either tend to love or hate the Linux server’s terminal. You have people like Matt, our CEO, who has told me many times that he could spend an entire day on the Linux terminal and love every second of it. And you have the rest of us, who need a little help and encouragement.

The Linux terminal is highly customizable. It’s far from static. That means there’s plenty of opportunities to turn a bland default terminal into a powerful (and colorful!) platform for you to get things done. There’s new and unique tools, infinite customization options, and a ton of innovation around creating a usable and highly productive text-based interface.

Let’s take a look into some of my favorite ways to customize, personalize, and make any Linux terminal a little more to my liking.

A collection of the smartest terminal tools (for a better Linux server experience)

  1. tldr: Read simplified instructions on common terminal commands
  2. how2: Get answers to your terminal questions
  3. z: Jump to ‘frecently’ used places
  4. trash-cli: Put files in the trash
  5. nnn: Manage your files visually
  6. bat: View files with syntax highlighting
  7. pomo: A Pomodoro timer in your terminal
  8. fselect: Find files with the speed of SQL
  9. exa: List files with more features (and colors) than ls
  10. peco: Get grep-like filtering with interactivity
  11. has: Do you 'has' the dependencies you need?
  12. progress: See how much longer mv, dd, cp, and more will take
  13. mackup: Sync and restore your application settings

Bonus: Share files directly from the command line

tldr: Read simplified instructions on common terminal commands

You’ve probably seen this dismissive phrase before: “Go read the man pages.”

That’s a typical response (unfortunately) to Linux newcomers asking questions about how to use a particular program or utility in the terminal. Doubly unfortunate is that man pages are often tedious and hard to parse.

tldr is a solution. Once you download it, you can type in tldr $PROGRAM to get some clear information on how to use that program, plus real-life examples. You’ll probably be most interested in theBash client.

Here’s what tldr tar gets you:

Terminal tool: the tldr output for tar

How it’ll level up your server:

  • Get more immediate, real-life examples of how to use Linux/Unix utilities.
  • No more switching from a terminal to a browser a hundred times to get the information you need or copy-paste the command you’re looking for.
  • Finally learn and remember all those obscure syntaxes that you keep stumbling over.

how2: Get answers to your terminal questions

Don’t feel like reading a bunch of tldr examples to find the one you need? Not even sure which utility you need to get the job done? how2 could be your answer.

The developers of how2 bill it as “stackoverflow from the terminal” and “like man, but you can query it in natural language.” Those are some big promises, but the output is impressive:

Terminal tool: how2 answering a question about .tar.bz2

Unlike tldr, which uses curl to download and display one of the write-ups that they keep on a centralized server, how2 actively queries the Google and StackOverflow APIs to pull answers to your questions. If it finds a community-approved answer to your question, it’ll use that to populate the output. And given how many developers are wholly dependent on said answers to program anything useful (pointing at myself), you should be okay in a lot of cases.

How it’ll level up your server:

  • Real answers to your tricky-to-remember questions, like how tar works.

z: Jump to ‘frecently’ used places

I always have a few directories that I tend to spend the most time in. A small shell script called z helps me access those directories with less overhead.

To install it, grab the source code and put the file in a directory of your choosing. Then open up your .bashrc or .zshrc file and copy in the following line:

. /path/to/

Save the file and start up a new terminal. You’ll need to use cd normally

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