I'm configuring a new Linux server install and was just wondering if anyone has a list of useful general-purpose tools that they always install on Linux server boxes as a matter of course? I've already installed the following packages and tools:

  • vnstat
  • maven2
  • subversion
  • perl
  • php
  • java
  • apache2
  • mysql

Any other generally useful packages that you would recommend installing? I'm looking for things in the category of "generally useful utilities with no application-specific value", such as vnstat. Things that provide useful tools for monitoring, testing, troubleshooting, etc..

closed as not a real question by Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams, Chris S, David Schwartz, Wesley, Zoredache Jan 9 '12 at 6:12

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    Nethack falls under "etc.", right? – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jan 9 '12 at 2:33
  • Sure, why not? Also, tough crowd it seems. I like how the Windows variant of this question is at +47, while the Linux version has -1. – aroth Jan 9 '12 at 3:51
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    The thing is that Windows comes with almost nothing so lists like this are important, whereas with Linux everything is a yum install or apt-get install away. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jan 9 '12 at 3:54
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    This is a fair question. I ensure that the same core set of utilities is available on all of the systems I manage. – ewwhite Jan 9 '12 at 4:29
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    @aroth The usefulness isn't in dispute. It really is a useful question. But it's a bit like selling leaf blowers at a steakhouse. Leaf blowers are useful, but they're not supposed to be sold at steakhouses. That's not the steakhouse's strong point ServerFault isn't supposed to be for open-ended questions. That Q/A nature of the site doesn't allow open-ended questions to be its strong point. Only questions that can be answered with one, or very few, solid deductive answers. But yes, this is a good question that is best answered on a traditional forum or in chat. Come on in and chat with us! – Wesley Jan 12 '12 at 1:15

I like to have these tools available on systems I manage. They're mostly in the monitoring realm:

nmap, ncdu, bash_completion, nmon, iperf, iftop, screen, bonnie++, stress, collectl.

  • Thanks, I particularly like iftop and ncdu. Had no idea either of those existed. – aroth Jan 9 '12 at 7:20

htop - 100 times more useful than top

  • Whyso? What makes it better? – ewwhite Jan 9 '12 at 4:07
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    @ewwhite More simple intuitive controls, tree, scrolling the list is more obvious (arrow keys) most commands shown on screen (so no 30 minute man page searches), great menu config, etc – TheLQ Jan 9 '12 at 4:25

my favourite

mc, iotop, iftop, wget, nmap


arpwatch, tcpdump, nmap....

What's the machines job?

  • Running a database-intensive LAMP web application, for starters. Potentially other similar tasks down the road, if the system has the capacity to support them. – aroth Jan 9 '12 at 3:49
  • If that's the case I suggest you play around with nginx, sqlite, linux-ha :) – Jake Jan 9 '12 at 8:32

You should install only packages that this specific server needs. And this is correct for any server no just Linux.

screen, nc, nano, mlocate

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