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I believe every system administrator is used to open source by now. From Apache to Firefox or Linux, everyone uses it at least a little bit.

However, most open source developers are not good in marketing, so I know that there are hundreds of very good tools out there that very few people know.

To fill this gap, share your favorite open source tool that you use in your day-to-day work.

*I will post mine in the comments.


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hayalci: that question is for generic tools, this one only for open source – sucuri Jul 5 '09 at 12:09
@sucuri: most of the "generic" tools are also FLOSS [I should add "fortunately" somewhere :) ] – hayalci Jul 6 '09 at 23:43

86 Answers 86

iMacros for Firefox addon => automate Firefox via command line


I will try to focus my answer on a tool not so well known (or at least not mentioned).

woof (Web Offer One File), a python script to exchange files using a one-shot minimal HTTP server. No more dependencies thatn python itself. Quite useful if you cannot rely on SSH, SMB or something else.


lsof - list open files ( )

Great if you need to know which process has opened a given file !


Does windirstat qualify?


A nifty little tool that never got any attention but was extremely helpful was retty.

If anybody reading this knows assembly and care to do something for this world pleaaaase make retty work with newer systems (It only works on older 32bit systems. And not always...)


I use Cobbler and Koan a lot. It makes remote installations so much easier.


I think Send HTTP tool can be in the list. It is useful to send HTTP request to your URL


I can't see anyone mentioned bc and gnuplot - the poor man's Excel :) I dare to claim these two are one of the best friends of any student in engineering.


Leafpad. It's seriously just Notepad for Linux :D


Crimson Editor is a great source code editor for Windows. It is simple to use, and has syntax highlighting.


I love CFengine for automatic configuration management on my Debian boxes.

An example on how to edit sysctl.conf.


My favorites that haven't been mentioned:

  • twidge - update a twitter account via command line
  • fbcmd - update a facebook account via command line
  • winexe - execute command on a Windows box
  • ts (task spooler) - maintains a queue of commands and executes them one by one, commands can be added to queue at any time
  • qrand - download random numbers from QRBG website
  • adito - SSL VPN, extremely useful
  • ajaxplorer - web-based file manager
  • lld2d - allow linux-based router to respond to windows LLTD requests

and finally

  • lspci - this has to be the best tool for finding out exactly what hardware is in your system
+1 for ajaxplorer – Kenny Rasschaert Nov 19 '10 at 23:43

I would have to say Valgrind. As a developer it's extremely useful for realtime debugging of memory problems among others. But it seems no one has yet mentioned it so that means it really isn't that famous in the IT community at large. Maybe just linux/unix developers know about it.

Another one that is also not mentioned but is in the same category is gdb.

No has mentioned gcc either that I can see.

Or gnu make for that matter. I'm sure many of you out there use it all the time but give it no thought.


FileZilla - A must of FTP stuff (client and server).


Webmin - secure LINUX administration tool via a browser. Can do lots of different admin tasks easily, remotely, securely (HTTPS).

I second the PHPMyAdmin to remotely administer MySQL, very powerful and easy.

Image Magick - bulk image processing and command line image manipulation in scripts.

The GNU Windows tool set, lots of gems in here, wget, find, grep, etc. to make Windows more powerful for those of us from *NIX land.


DirSync Pro (Directory Synchronize Pro)
Directory Synchronize, Synchronization utility.

jdk1.6 based software that allows you to do bidirectional sync on 2 folders with a gui, and preview of the changes.


Working in the medical industry, it's nice to have a utility like "Eraser" handy. Completely scrubs deleted data from your drive.


My favorite tools on a Linux system are telnet and ping. I am not certain if they are OS or not, but still really useful, also netcat in a similar fashion for net system checking/trouble shooting.


Bash - I use it every day. Not just for simple stuff, but being able to chain commands together and script the computer gives me so much power.


MindTouch. It's developers are actually picked up a lot of steam and thus stands apart from the generalization that "most open source developers are not good in marketing."

Big things happenin'!


I like PgBouncer. It's a connection pooling daemon for Postgresql.


In addition to the numerous good answers already submitted, I'd like to add:

ccrypt: an implementation of AES (Rijndael) for file encryption/decryption

SAGE: a mathematical software suite (which bundles the following two packages)

MPFR: a C library for arbitrary-precision computation

PARI/GP: a C library and command-line calculator for number theory and related applications

GnuPG: e-mail encryption/decryption/authentication software (regrettably, too little used)


I like the terminal tools
Yakuake .. its a Quake-style terminal emulator based on KDE Konsole technology.
Terminator .. Its a terminal emulator with many cool features like

auto safe session, screen split,find function and many many more.
enjoy it :)


To complete the list I like to add monit: lightweight and easy to configure monitoring and automated error recovery daemon. Less complex than Nagios and bb4, but far more easy to configure.

config for sshd: (copied from monit website)

check process sshd with pidfile /var/run/
start program  "/etc/init.d/sshd start"
stop program  "/etc/init.d/sshd stop"
if failed port 22 protocol ssh then restart
if 5 restarts within 5 cycles then timeout

For a complete and useful browser, I use Opera.

It's not open source and only arguably a tool. – Telemachus Jul 4 '09 at 14:56


Not open-source. – tomfanning Jul 6 '09 at 13:52

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