Tool tests on the fast track

Tool Tips

Article from Issue 153/2013

6 Linux tools reviewed for your pleasure.


Flexible Image Viewer
License: GPLv2
Alternatives: ImageMagick

The lean image viewer Fim not only lets you view snapshots on the X Window System, but also on the console using framebuffers. The tool always displays the images at full scale. Important information such as the file name or the resolution appears in the footer. The keyboard shortcut Ctrl+H calls help.

The developers gleaned additional keyboard shortcuts from Vim. For example, users can press the arrow keys or H, L, K, and J to move the view area. The + and keys let you zoom in and out. If you pass in a whole directory of images at launch time, you can scroll forward and backward with the N and P keys. A colon starts command mode in Fim, as well.

Commands are available that let you change the scaling factor, control an image directly, or run an external command. A number of parameters that allow you to influence Fim at launch time adjust the height, width, and resolution of an image.

Fim offers all the important features of an image viewer, works via framebuffer at the command line, and also performs well in user-defined scripts.


Simple POP3 Server
License: GPLv3
Alternatives: GNU Pop3d, Tpop3d

Snowbox is a compact POP3 server that requires little in terms of resources and installs quickly. It is implemented in Go, and thus requires the matching Go compiler. The tool supports SSL, IPv6, and APOP.

The configuration file, /etc/snowbox/config, contains only a few instructions. By default, the server listens on the loopback interface on port 110; if SSL encryption is enabled, port 995 is used. Secure transfer is disabled initially, but you can create a certificate valid for one year in OpenSSL,

openssl req -new -x509 -nodes -out snowbox.cert -keyout snowbox.key -days 365 -subj '/CN=<localhost>'

then set use_ssl to yes in the config file.

User management is handled via the /etc/snowbox/user.auth file. It does not rely on PAM or LDAP; instead, it only contains lines of usernames and associated passwords. Because the passwords exist in plaintext, admins will want to set the permissions for the file accordingly. As a mail directory, Snowbox uses /var/mail, whereas an MTA has stored the mail. If you want the tool to look for mail elsewhere, you can change the maildir user option. Snowbox uses syslog for logging.

Snowbox is lean and compact and sets up with just a few steps.

Remind 3.1.13

Appointment Manager for the Command Line
License: GPLv2
Alternatives: Calcurse, Ccal, Pal

Remind is a sophisticated calendar and alarm service for Unix systems. The command-line tool relies on its own scripting language in the background to record one-off and recurring appointments.

The Remind script files are in text format, so users can edit them in their favorite editor. Alternatively, they can use the Tkremind tool included with the package, which provides a simple graphical interface.

The script file uses one date per line. The line starts with the REM keyword followed by the date information and other keywords that define, for example, repeat intervals. The MSG statement initiates the calendar entry. For a detailed description, check out the man page and the wiki, as well as a few use cases contributed by users.

The remind command-line program evaluates the script files. If you call it with the -c option, the tool draws a simple calendar on standard output. To simply list the items, use the -s switch.

The program runs in daemon mode if you set the -z option and keeps users up to date with appointments via an external tool, email, or a popup. The Remind Cookbook link in the wiki has a number of examples to help you set up scripts.

Remind is so complex that users should plan on a steep learning curve.

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