Bonus: From the deepest depths of Debian


I have some long-standing additions to the list that I’ve been putting off and putting off, mostly because they require hardware or arrangements that I can’t fulfill. I wanted to mention them here rather than just omit them outright, because they are probably fully functional and worthy of recognition, even if they require knowledge or components that I just can’t muster.

Most of these come out of the depths of Debian or are esoteric Arch packages, and in some cases they may appear in both. I’ve tried to annotate each one, to show which distribution they belong to, what they do, and what my impediment was.

It may be that you find a use for these things through your own daily travels, and I’d prefer not label them as somehow “unworking,” just because my brief dabble was unsuccessful or impossible. Try them and see if they are useful for you.

  • ap-utils: Tools for managing or administrating wireless access points. I do use wireless connections, but nothing so specific that I have direct experience with these tools. In Debian and AUR.
  • apachetop: As you might guess, a top-like tool for Apache servers. I could install it, but without a proper Apache arrangement, it wasn’t very successful. In both Debian and AUR, but the home page is empty. Use the source code from the Debian page and rename it to match the PKGBUILD, and it will build correctly.
  • argus-client: In Debian. Server network statistics tools that waaay outstrip my meager home setups.
  • ax25-tools: In Arch and Debian, although the package names flutter between ax25-tools, ax25-apps, and some other things. Network daemons and setup tools for ham radio arrangements.
  • bfgminer: A bitcoin miner, which is too much of a task for my pitiful little arsenal of leftover laptops to tackle. In Arch; in Debian for Jessie.
  • bist: bist made it into my list somehow, but I’m 99 percent sure it’s a graphical program for drawing chemical arrangements. If there’s a console application in there, I didn’t see it. In Debian and AUR.
  • btscanner: A Bluetooth scanner utility for the CLI. Believe it or not, I don’t have any Bluetooth equipment. I know, and it’s 2014. :( In Debian and AUR.
  • burp: There are a lot of programs called “burp;” this one is an AUR uploader utility. As you can imagine, that means it’s mostly intended for Arch users, even moreso for people who need to streamline their contributions to the user repository. In that case, its focus is a bit narrow, so I’m including it here rather than on its own.
  • cgdb (and gdb too, I suppose): An ncurses interface for the GNU debugger. I like the looks of cgdb, but I wouldn’t have the first clue as to how to use it. In both Debian and Arch.
  • cgminer: A bitcoin miner, which is not impossible, but not really practical for the hardware I use. In both Debian and Arch.
  • ckermit: “Network and serial communication software.” I am not 100 percent sure what that means, but I’m confident it’s beyond my scope. In both; Debian gives this as the home page.
  • cmake-curses-gui: Debian lists this as a curses interface to cmake, but again, I wouldn’t know where to get started with it.
  • colrconv: “Colrconv is a modified version of VA3DP’s ttylink client. In addition to the basic split screen session it gives you color and sound support plus some line editing capabilities, a scroll buffer and a status line.” I really don’t know what to make of that, but I think it’s intended for ham radio operations. Sorry, I honestly don’t know any more than that. :( (There are other utilities that use this name, by the way; more on those later.)
  • coop-computing-tools: Computing tools and utilities intended for high-end multi-user systems. Some of them may be of use on single-user, desktop-ish systems, but you’ll have to try them out to be sure. In Debian only, unless they’re in Arch under a different name.
  • cpmtools: Tools for accessing ancient and venerable CP/M file systems. I’m actually sad that I have no experience working with CP/M environments, in the same way I am disappointed with myself for never learning French: It’s a worthy pursuit that will pay off from time to time, but I just failed to pursue it. :( In both Debian and AUR; from the author of teapot and fe.
  • crash: In Debian and Arch community; described as a kernel debugging tool. I don’t count myself among the wise who look within the kernel itself for software problems. I have more than enough software problems without picking apart other peoples’ work. :|
  • dnet-progs: Console tools for DECnet users. I don’t have two PDP-11 machines to string together and try this. ;) Debian only, I think.
  • ecatools: I mentioned ecasound a long time ago; ecatools are ancillary programs for that utility. In Debian as a separate package, but the same executables might be mixed in with Arch.
  • erlang-nox: Programming utilities for Erlang that don’t require X. I thought this might be another case where Debian split out the console-only portion of a suite, but apparently Arch follows suit here. If I knew anything about programming in Erlang, I’d try something with it. … :(
  • fbb: I was hoping this was a framebuffer utility, but in fact it’s another tool for amateur radio operators. Not in Arch that I could find.
  • gambas3-gb-ncurses: Similar to erlang-nox, above, this splits out the text-only portions of Gambas. In Debian for Jessie, and in Arch.
  • gpsd-clients: In Debian this is a suite of tools for GPS-equipped computers. Personally, the idea of having a GPS device attached to my computer is a little unattractive … which is why I don’t have anything that this would support.
  • mariadb-client-core-5.5: I’m using the package name from Sid here, but the support for mariadb is in both Arch and Debian. I’m even less well-versed in mariadb than I am in other database suites, which is rather frightening.
  • mod-gearman-tools: Again from Debian, tools for managing servers that run Mod Gearman. There’s something called “gearmand” in Arch, that might be the same thing but has a different home page listed.
  • pinentry-curses: This is part of both Arch and Debian, as a text-only passphrase entry dialogue for GnuPG. I don’t know if it is possible to split out this portion of gpg and use it in another project, but I have my doubts.
  • rethinkdb: A fresh entry from just a day or two ago, but a distributed database is beyond the scope of my daily adventures.
  • scilab-minimal-bin: I’m using the Debian package name here again, this time because I don’t see SciLab in any context in Arch proper, but some variants are available in AUR … but nothing that appears to be text-only. I’m a little suspicious of the Debian version too though, since it claims to offer a graphical editor of sorts, and has some graphical dependencies. So it may be that this isn’t a real text-only title. :???:
  • sooperlooper: I see this is in Debian, but I don’t know if this is truly nongraphical either. Occasionally people make suggestions that have CLI components as part of an entire graphical suite, which isn’t verboten, just off-the-mark … since hundreds of graphical “applications” are just frontends for CLI tools.
  • statserial: In Debian; I think other than network engineers, a tool for probing serial modem lines might not be of universal appeal. … Also, I don’t have a modem. :(
  • xwiimote: Software to interact with Nintendo Wii controllers. I never bought a Wii, although I might try one if I see one in my local recycling shop. :roll: In Debian and in AUR in a few variations.

I’m going to stop there, but as you can probably tell, I’m working through a huge list in alphabetical order. That means I have quite a few of these titles left to sort and report.

And just to be clear: Most of these come from Debian but require hardware or arrangements that I just can’t duplicate. More than likely, there’s nothing wrong with them at all.

Just the fact that Debian (and to a lesser degree, Arch) includes them in its corpus suggests they are at least functional — but that’s no guarantee. I’ve seen things from Debian repos that didn’t work on first run, and there’s quite a bit in AUR that sputters and dies before it ever gets installed.

In any case, if you have the hardware to try them, please be my guest. Report back to us, in the name of science. ;)

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nwipe: Great trepidation and fierce consternation


Both AUR and Debian agree that nwipe is the core tool once found in the dban disk annihilator tool. I say “once found” because the home page seems to have changed from what I remember, and it appears to be pitching another utility called “Blancco.”

But to add to the confusion, AUR and Debian have different home pages for the nwipe project, one pointing to Sourceforge and another to a Github page, respectively. It’s possible those are just mirrors for the project, but I do wonder if there are differences.

No matter; what you see here is the version available to Arch users.


And it doesn’t look much different from the core dban program. Select a drive, step through your options, and start with F10. If you ever used the dban live system, this single program works much the same way.

You have the ability to set your erasing options as command-line flags, which is something that was technically available to the original project, if you were willing to remaster the ISO.

And the infamous “autonuke” option is still around, which starts up and immediately begins exterminating every bit of data on any drive it can find. The implications are frightening.

I see a few improvements here and there, possibly most unusual being the ability to blank the screen — not erase the screen, just empty it :oops: — while nwipe runs, ostensibly saving you the screen burn-in while nwipe eats up your hours … and your hard drive.

It might also be important since the version I used had a once-per-second flicker effect as it updated the screen. Blanking the screen was the only solution for stopping the flashing blue box in the corner of my eye.

nwipe is comfortable running outside of 80×24, but oddly, all the text will remain in those dimensions even if the frames are drawn larger. Odder still, the on-screen help along the bottom gets arbitrarily cut off at 24 characters, which seems like an oversight.

dban is a time-honored tool that I’ve been using off and on for the better part of a decade, and so I hold it in high esteem. I’ve run it for weeks on end, 24 hours a day for various reasons, and gotten great results with it.

As an offshoot, nwipe is equally regarded, even if I bundle my meager endorsement with a stern warning: Be very very careful when you use it. nwipe does not make apologies. Use with care. :(‘>>:(

Tagged: data, disk, drive, erase

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