Tool tests on the fast track

Kiwix 0.9

Function: Reading Wikipedia and other wikis offline


License: GPLv3

Alternatives: Evopedia

Kiwix is an offline reader for Wikipedia and other MediaWiki pages. The program relies on the ZIM format for the exchange. In addition to Wikipedia, the Kiwix site has matching files for Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikinews, Wikivoyage, and others. Further down the long list, you will also find Wikileaks and Gutenberg files.

After launching, you can import one or more ZIM files into your local library, where you can access the data, even without Internet access. If you want to load new content or update existing content, you can do so online with a single click. The ZIM format supports linking terms so that users can navigate in the normal way in Kiwix.

The tool also offers a search function and optionally filters the matches by file size, language, or author. If you are missing a manageable index for a ZIM file, the offline reader will create a new one if so desired. Additionally, the tool does a good job of exporting. Users can save articles in HTML or PDF format. Kiwix comes with a small web server that supports browser-based access by other devices on the local network.

(5 Stars) The offline reader impresses across the board. Kiwix puts Wikipedia and others on your computer and serves up the content offline, but with the accustomed Wiki convenience.

Miller 2.2.1

Function: Editing CSV files in the shell


License: BSD

Alternatives: Text editors

No generally accepted standard exists for the CSV (comma-separated value) format. Text files can contain tables or lists and use different characters for separating lines or fields. Editing these files with a text editor or with shell commands often takes a lot of patience. Miller plugs this gap. The command-line tool combines some functions of proven GNU applications. In addition to CSV files, it also processes the xTab, pprint, NIDX, and DKVP formats.

When calling the mlr program, you need to pass in both the file name and the format. To convert files to a different format, you also need to state the desired target format. Field separators can be individually defined for each format. Other parameters let users quote or double-quote fields.

Miller comes with more than 15 processing features, including simple GNU functions like cat, cut, head, join, sort, tac, or uniq. More complex options are also available, such as regularize, group-by, or having-fields, which remind the user of SQL statements. Mathematical and word processing functions round off the palette.

Users can also pipe the mlr output to other tools. This makes Miller a useful choice for your own scripts.

(4 Stars) If you frequently need to deal with CSV files, you will discover that Miller is a hard-working and flexible aid. But, be aware of the long learning curve and make sure you check out the examples on the website.

Debian Package Search 2.7.5

Function: Debian package search for the desktop


License: GPLv2

Alternatives: Synaptic

Users who find search and filter functions on Debian-based distributions too clumsy might like to take a look at Debian Package Search. After launching the GUI, you need to configure some basic settings in Packagesearch | Preferences. This includes whether you use su or sudo to become root and whether the program should use apt-get or aptitude. The program comes with five extensions that users can enable and disable via the Plugins | Control Plugins menu.

It is precisely these plugins that make the detective tool something special, by integrating functions from external tools, such as the Orphan plugin, which uses deborphan to discover packages you no longer need. These orphaned packages are typically dependencies for other programs installed long ago that are no longer needed. The Filename plugin supports users in searching for packages that contain specific files, and Debtags uses the package tags (Debian package metadata).

Debian Package Search lists all the matches, shows the installed version and the ones available in the online repositories, and provides a brief description. Right-clicking on a package name opens the context menu with functions for installing, updating, and removing – which requires administrative privileges.

(4 Stars) The search and filter functions impress across the board.

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