LJ Archive

Unix Interactive Tools

Clarence Smith,, Jr.

Issue #6, October 1994

Being a new administrator for your Linux system can be very trying at times. When maintaining your system, you want to be able to manage it in an organized fashion. Unix Interactive Tools makes the task of running a smooth system easy.

Unix Interactive Tools enables users to view and handle their file-system with ease. The software package itself is made up of three main components: a file browser, process viewer/killer, and a Hex/ASCII viewer. With these tools, new system administrators can complete the necessary duties of overseeing their new kingdom more quickly and efficiently.

The file system browser is made up of two side-by-side panels. Each displays the current working directory of the user who initiated the UIT session. Inside the panels, along with the directory listing, is info about the files themselves (permissions, size, etc). The windows can be easily navigated using the cursor keys and the page-up and page-down keys. These keys move a highlighted bar which shows the current file/directory selected. The ENTER key is used as well, to move in/out of the highlighted directories. Lastly, the file browser contains a shell-like command line, for typing in normal shell commands, and also has a status bar which contains optional “hot-keys”. These keys contain such commands as move, copy, and mkdir.

The UIT package also includes a process viewer/killer. Like the file browser, this process utility can be navigated by the user via the cursor keys. Similar to the file browser, the viewer has a status line with certain hot-keys that can be used. The process viewer/killer lists all the current processes the user is running, or if you are running UIT as root, it shows all the processes that are running. Other things listed are the PID (Process ID) number and the TTY (terminal used by the process). The viewer's ability to examine/manipulate a process quickly and efficiently serves a functional purpose in the lives of new (and experienced) system administrators. This tool wouldn't be used for a “quick glance” of the processes running, such that ps -aux would provide. It is more of a detailed outlook at the processes.

The last component of the UIT package is a Hex/ASCII file viewer. It can be used to view and edit executables or data files. This is a great tool for those who have done assembly in DOS, for they can recognize the structure that the Hex/ASCII viewer resembles.

I highly recommend the UIT package for new administrators because of its usefulness in providing a global view of any particular filesystem. This package enables users to maintain their system efficiently, without having to worry about which shell command to use, how to pipe to an output file, etc. It's all in there, and the UIT package makes it simple. I don't recommend using the UIT package without first learning some of the basic Unix commands, though, because there are times when you may want to use that nifty shell command line that comes in the file browser!

Unix Interactive Tools was written by Tudor Hulubei and Andrei Pitis. The current version for UIT is 4.3a. The complete source to the UIT package can be found at ulise.cs.pub.ro, in the /pub/public/linux/uit directory. Check it out, and tell me what you think!

Clarence Smith, Jr., is a pre-communications student at the University of Washington, studying Public Relations and Sociology. He is a Linux Hobbyist, and hopes one day to become a developer of software packages for Linux.

LJ Archive