Windows

My Top Five admin apps


It's amazing how many applications we all use from day to day and pretty much take for granted. There are, of course, hundreds of small apps that perform a vital function, but most of these are only occasional; prime examples of these would be tcpdump, WinRAR, patch/diff, gcc, and so on. As with most admin tools, there are usually more basic tools that can perform the same tasks. Sometimes the heavier applications can save time by allowing users to save configurations or complete a repetitive task at the click of a button. I guess selecting apps is a matter of personal choice and really depends on a person's chosen workflow. Below I have listed my Top Five applications, which I use daily for both work and play. You’ll notice that these are OS X applications as I tend to work predominantly on Apple Macs these days -- I’ve also added the equivalent programs that I use while working on Windows (so that actually makes it my Top Nine).

1. JellyfiSSH/Putty

JellyfiSSH is a simple SSH bookmark manager for OS X. The design is very unobtrusive and intuitive to navigate. Each bookmark can be organised into groups making management of multisite networks a little less cumbersome. Connection properties can be set for each bookmark specifying connection type (telnet and SSH1/2), encryption algorithm, username, shell, and other graphical/display preferences. While the native SSH client does the job, I find the ‘bookmark’ role played by this application to be invaluable. It goes without saying that PuTTY is my obvious choice while working on a Windows machine for many of the same reasons.

2. Cyberduck / WinSCP

I’ve slowly been moving away from using Windows as my primary desktop OS and the application that I’ve missed the most has to be WinSCP. WinSCP is an open source file transfer application which supports SCP and SFTP protocols over an SSH connection. The design is nice and simple with full drag/drop functionality and, of course, connection bookmarks. I constantly used WinSCP for transferring configuration files that needed to be edited, backed up, or replaced. I have tried several file transfer applications for OS X and finally settled with Cyberduck. Cyberduck is an open source, easy-to-use program with full drag/drop functionality and integration of Spotlight, Keychain, and AppleScript. I also use Cyberduck as my graphical FTP client.

3. BBEdit / UltraEdit

Fans of editors like vi, nano, or crimson are going to lynch me here. My favourite text-editing program (so far) for the Mac platform is BBEdit. Now I know it’s not free and there are plenty of free text editors out there, which would still give code highlighting/folding and similar features. I find BBEdit to be a comfortable working environment and built-in support for S/FTP, applescript, and Automator can all prove to be handy. If anyone can suggest an alternative, please feel free. Under Windows my favourite text editor is, without a doubt, UltraEdit; since the first time I used this program I have been hooked. It does everything I could possibly ask of it and probably much more besides. If you haven’t already tried this one, then take a look at the free trial -- the retail price is pretty reasonable at $50.

4. VMware Fusion / Workstation

Anybody who reads my blogs will know that I’m a very happy supporter of VMware. I find the power and flexibility provided by VMware virtual machines awesome. Regardless of which desktop OS I’m using, I always have options. I can work under OS X but still run Windows applications and boot up a Linux installation if need be. I also use VMware to set up virtual testing environments without having to prepare hardware. VMware Fusion is the Mac variant (currently only released on beta), while VMware Workstation runs on Windows. Workstation currently has quite a few more advanced features than Fusion although I’m sure the specs of both packages will even out as Fusion reaches maturity.I understand that VMWare Workstation is a pretty expensive piece of software and many people are reluctant to pay out. I have two things to say about that:

        1. It’s worth the money

        2. You don’t have to pay for it. Sign up for the VMware Workstation or Fusion beta programs and you can use the software for free. It is beta software, but I have yet to encounter a single bug.

5. Aqua Data Studio

Last but not least is my favourite database administration tool. Aqua Data Studio is great if you want to quickly connect to a database server and manipulate raw data. I most frequently use ADS for adding/removing blacklist entries from our SMTP database. The auto-completing query analyser is great, allowing queries to be built quickly and easily. Visual editing of schemas is possible with most of the supported database engines (Oracle, DB2 UDB, SQL Server, Sybase ASE, Sybase Anywhere, Sybase IQ, Informix, PostgreSQL and MySQL). While Aqua Data Studio was free prior to version 6 it must now be licenced. Version 4.7 is still available for download and free for non-commercial users. The best thing about this package is that it’s Java and therefore available for OS X, Windows and Linux.

 

21 comments
kraken_
kraken_

... that nobody thought about unxutils. It helps a lot to do some _useful_ scripting under DOS/Windows. It contains grep, gawk and a bunch of other commands that are over-used under UNIX/Linux. It even contains a bourne shell. Think about "find . -mtime -3" under Dos :-)

julio
julio

Dont forget about PSTOOLS. This is a must have utility when you have to manage multiple servers and can be done from one command line interface: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/utilities/PsTools.mspx The Windows NT and Windows 2000 Resource Kits come with a number of command line tools that help you administer your Windows NT/2K systems. Over time, I've grown a collection of similar tools, including some not included in the Resource Kits. What sets these tools apart is that they all allow you to manage remote systems as well as the local one. The first tool in the suite was PsList, a tool that lets you view detailed information about processes, and the suite is continually growing. The "Ps" prefix in PsList relates to the fact that the standard UNIX process listing command-line tool is named "ps", so I've adopted this prefix for all the tools in order to tie them together into a suite of tools named PsTools.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

1) Webmin - A great web based admin tool that makes many functions easier to do remotely 2) Netcat/Cryptcat - Man, just useful. 3) ssh (and scp) - gotta have it... 4) grep - uber useful 5) locate - what a handy dandy little tool that's quick to boot! Edit to add a text editor Ala Apotheon :-) Nano is my editor of choice now...I've fallen in love with it. While it isn't super powerful, it sure is quick and handy...

apotheon
apotheon

1. [b]OpenSSH[/b] -- It covers SSH, SFTP, and SCP, all with a convenient command line interface that enhances my productivity rather than getting in the way like a GUI would, and it's eminently scriptable. 2. [b]screen[/b] -- I can run multiple operations via a single remote shell connection, and even detach from them to return later if I need to shut down the connection but don't want to discontinue the operation. The screen utility is a lifesaver when I need a long-running task to be completed and I'm using SSH over a flaky connection to a remote system. 3. [b]Vim[/b] -- Need I say more? 4. [b]irb[/b] -- The interactive Ruby shell kicks butt. It's also the best calculator application I've ever used, and that can be very important sometimes. 5. [b]AHWM[/b] -- It's the lightest-weight window manager I've found yet that does what I most want out of a window manager. Resource footprint is tiny, responsiveness is excellent, and feature set is pretty much perfect for my needs. Configuration is easy to understand, too, at least for a mediocre programmer like me. I'm surprised, by the way, that you prefer BBEdit/UltraEdit over Textmate. It seems like every single programmer Mac user in the world absolutely worships Textmate, kinda the way all the FSF wankers are obsessed with emacs. From what I've seen, Textmate looks pretty sweet (for a GUI app).

DanLM
DanLM

I am not an admin, but I was thinking kind of along your lines the other day. The commands/apps that I use most often. ;o), putt/wsftp were right up there in those thoughts. I use EditPad pro as my windows editor though, and vi as my unix/linux editor. How about a followup with some short examples of the linux commands. This I definatly have been thinking about doing. Reason, there are alot of people that may do work on various rented shells for web pages and such. The commands that you and I take for granted(grep, find, cat, and ls) they may not be totally familular with. Example being, their quota fill's up. How do they figure out whats sucking up their space. Hey, find works real well in a situation like this. Or, they are looking for a string in a apache log file... But do not want to page foward.. grep to the resecue. Or, what was the file updated in this direcory?? ls -ltr to the rescue. And, for the newbee or even us pro's that get files with that ugly microsoft end of line marking that screws up some scripts. The vi command(seen a short perl for this also) that does a global replace(: %s /cntr v cntrl m//), that will remove the ^M at the end of the lines. Dan

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I know the reply title sounds a little obvious but every few months I'm reminded of the Unix commands compiled for dos/windows that I used to have before a drive crash. (what does one backup 160 gigs to on a home network?) Gah.. it was fantastic, ls, gawk, grep and a bunch of other handy utilities that kept me from seeing "command not found" when I habitually entered a command the Unix way. If you've a link there's probably more than Dan and I waiting ready by the browser. (Edit): was Dan not Apath asking about this first

DanLM
DanLM

Have a link by chance? Thank you. Dan

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

I do like samspade.org though

ascott
ascott

Portqry is a brill port scanner. if you need to run security scans on your servers or PCs try portqry -local. it also does reverse DNS queries ideal for identifying external ip addresses in your firewall logs - and MUCH MORE...TRY IT Alyn Scott - Merton College IT Services

DanLM
DanLM

I use that all the time now too. But, I only started using this recently. Your right... roflmao, primary times I use that. Reading the README, and building the config file. Watching a live tcdump while im looking at my firewall settings. That port should be installed by default, I swear. Dan

apotheon
apotheon

There's also a bunch of utilities I've written myself (mostly in Perl) that I use the hell out of all the time. I guess you could call it the "apotheonic utilities suite". I'm pretty sure nobody else would find as much use for the stuff as I do, but it still goes in my list of favorite apps.

frank.schafer
frank.schafer

Yet another someapp I'm finding so often on freshmeat? So, yaut for yet another UNIX tools? What about Cygwin? Hmmm...

chris.schock
chris.schock

Screen is almost always totally overlooked. The ability to detach and reattach, and flip between screens is incredibly helpful. I've been a happy screen user for over 10 years, and agree that it should be on all linux systems by default.

DanLM
DanLM

I have two scripts that I use on every machine that I work on. One, I call my monitor script. Its a perl program that reads a config file for restarting daemons that might crash. It's config file driven, so no modification to the script for what ever process I'm monitoring. And it allows for you to monitor mutiple process's as long as they are listed in the config file. ;o), and if you change a flag setting in the config file. It will restart that process for you. Or, if you set a flag properly... You can kill a process and work on it, without this script trying to restart it. Two, I have a little script that I wrote that only will retain a certain number of copies of specific files. I wrote this origionally to only retain so many backup files that are remotly placed on my home server. But, I find myself using this for other things now. In that it is config file driven, it's very generic. An automated backup script that will tar and zip anything it builds with the date the backup file built as part of the backup file name. Will only retain a speicific number of files based on information provided in the config file... Again, very generic... Just build the config file with full path's, and it will work. I have a couple other generics floating, but those are probably the two that I seem to always find a use for no matter what server I am working from. Dan

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The do about the same thing in the end but Unxutils apears to be command programs compiled for native dos/win32 where Cygwin is a kernel API library which *nix program code can be compiled to work with. Unxutils would be better for a flashdrive toolkit where you want to carry them with you. Cygwin would be better as a system install where you need *nix commands or windows based testing if your a developer. That's my guess anyhow and based purely on haveing a suite of unix command programs used on Dos/WinNT machines in the past versus a five minute review of the Cygwin website and ten minutes yesterday with Unxutils. I don't get the "yet another freshmeat" bit. That's kind of like saying "yet another download.com" program. They're both holding stables for FOSS projects or program distribution packages respectively. Both have lots of good software and lots of stuff that may not make it through the darwinian process of selection by users.

khansen
khansen

But it's a junk account. I never give out the good stuff! Always a good reminder, though!

DanLM
DanLM

Your email is out for the world to see now. ;o(, just don't want to see you spammed to death. dan

khansen
khansen

South Dakota Schock, right? Send me an email @ kim_hansen_68@yahoo.com! I've lost your contact info!

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