· ghex

Unix: Some useful tools

On my current project we regularly use a few Unix tools which aren’t on the standard installation so I thought I’d collate them here so I don’t forget about them in the future.


We suspected we’d ended up with some rogue characters in a file that we weren’t able to detect in our normal text editor recently and wanted to view the byte by byte representation of the file to check it out.

We came across ghex which seems to be a pretty decent tool for allowing us to do this.

sudo port install ghex

ghex2 ourFile.jade


axel is a download accelerator and lets us send multiple partial/range requests to download parts of a file before putting it back together at the end.

We found this quite useful when I was working in India to download files from the US over VPN. scp was painfully slow so we used to set up a simple HTTP server on the US server and then use axel to grab the file.

Some servers don’t support range requests but a reasonable number of them seem to.

sudo port install axel

axel -a http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dga/papers/andersen-phd-thesis.pdf


The man page claims the following:

Ack is designed as a replacement for 99% of the uses of grep.

It worked reasonably well for replacing the following grep command:

grep -iR "searchTerm" .

One of the cool things is that by default it doesn’t search in binary files whereas grep does. I have noticed that it sometimes doesn’t pick up search terms in files which grep would match and I’m not entirely sure why.

sudo port install p5-app-ack

ack "something"

I’m sure there are plenty of other cool tools about so if you know of any let me know!

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