Tool Tips

Tool Tips

Article from Issue 179/2015

Tool tests on the fast track

Fast Wipe 0.3

Deleting Data Quickly


License: GPLv3

Alternatives: Nwipe

Most users are aware of the fact that they can restore deleted data with the right tools. If you finally want to clean up your disk, however, your best option is to use a tool like Fast Wipe. After installing from the source code, the two applications, wipe and fwip, nestle into your /sbin directory.

Whereas fwip is designed for cleaning a whole disk quickly, wipe helps you remove individual files. The Fast Wipe tools overwrite the partitions or data blocks in question with random data. When calling the programs, users can choose from 13 different methods.

The developers have also implemented a RAM buffer that caches the random data before writing. The larger the buffer, the faster the deletion processes. This is only true, however, for data volumes in the gigabyte range; for smaller volumes of data or if you need to delete individual files, a buffer of 1 to 2MB is fine.

3 Stars Fast Wipe removes individual files or partitions from your disk with just a few steps. The program is easy to use, and a variety of deletion methods are available. The developers unfortunately do not say whether the tool is also suitable for use with SSDs.

MakeMe 0.8.7

Alternative Build Tool


License: GPLv2

Alternatives: Make

If you often need to build programs from source code yourself, you will be familiar with Make and Autoconf. MakeMe seeks to vastly simplify the build process, facilitate cross-compiling, and support a portable, platform-independent build process. Windows users will benefit from this in particular because MakeMe does not need a Cygwin environment.

The configuration is handled by JavaScript files that end in .me. Users can define the modules and libraries to use along with dependencies, file types, or actions to perform during the build. The MakeMe files look far more clear-cut and better structured than many classical Makefiles.

The tool independently determines how to build libraries or executables. Thanks to the JavaScript configuration, it not only facilitates cross-compiling but also the process of creating project files for IDEs such as Visual Studio, Xcode, or Nmake.

3 Stars Whether or not MakeMe can replace the trusty Make and become the build alternative of the future is something that developers will need to decide for themselves. Opponents of JavaScript will probably remain true to the classic program; however, if you develop for multiple platforms, you should give the new kid a chance.

Prwd 1.9

A Prompt for All Shells


License: ISC

Alternatives: None

Many shell fans sooner or later modify the prompt to suit their own needs. A configuration, with much time invested in customization, will follow them from system to system – unless, of course, the new system uses a different shell. In that case, you need to modify the setup file manually or start again from scratch. This is where prwd enters the game; it sets the PS1 variable and ensures a consistent prompt, thanks to simple templates.

Users can redirect the output from prwd to PS1. In the prwd setup file, you can compose a look from seven templates. You can also add the path, the hostname, or your userid – and color highlighting is possible as well.

If you work with version management systems such as Git or Mercurial, you can display the current developer branch in the prompt. Last but not least, users can define aliases for various parts to prevent clutter in the display. The man page contains several practical examples.

2 Stars The idea of a uniform shell prompt is appealing, and configuring the prwd templates is easily accomplished. However, the tool does not cover all prompt properties in the current version. Additionally, if you do need a more exotic setup, you will still need to set up and maintain PS1 manually.

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