This is a series highlighting best-of-breed utilities. We cover a wide range of utilities including tools that boost your productivity, help you manage your workflow, and lots more besides. There’s a complete list of the tools in this series in the Summary section.
The Command Line Interface (CLI) is a way of interacting with your computer. To harness all the power of Linux, it’s highly recommended mastering the interface. It’s true the CLI is often perceived as a barrier for users migrating to Linux, particularly if they’re grown up using GUI software exclusively. While Linux rarely forces anyone to use the CLI, some tasks are better suited to this method of interaction, offering inducements like superior scripting opportunities, remote access, and being far more frugal with a computer’s resources.
starship and ripgrep are examples of free and open source software that are written in the Rust programming language. There’s lots of other useful Rust-based utility software. One that is particularly notable is exa. It’s a modern replacement for ls, a venerable command-line program that’s an integral part of any Linux distribution.
exa sports more features and arguably better defaults than ls. It uses colours to distinguish file types and metadata. The tool recognizes symlinks, extended attributes, and Git. It’s compact, fast, and a single binary.
There’s multiple ways to install the software. I’m only going to detail the steps I followed on my Arch distribution.
As I was installing the software on a fresh Arch installation, I installed Cargo, and then used Cargo to install exa. Cargo is the Rust package manager.
$ cargo install exa
You’ll need to ensure ~/.cargo/bin is in your PATH. The variable $PATH is set by your shell every time it launches, but you can set it so that it always includes your new path with every new shell you open. The exact way to do this depends on which shell you’re running.
I followed these steps for the bash shell:
- Open the .bashrc file in my home directory (/home/sde/.bashrc) in a text editor.
- Add export PATH=”~/.cargo/bin:$PATH” to the last line of the file.
- Save the .bashrc file.
- Restart my terminal (or run the command source .bashrc)
Next page: Page 2 – In Operation
Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Installation
Page 2 – In Operation
Page 3 – Summary
Complete list of articles in this series:
|Abricotine||Markdown editor with inline preview functionality|
|AES Crypt||Encrypt files using the Advanced Encryption Standard|
|Ananicy||Shell daemon created to manage processes’ IO and CPU priorities|
|broot||Next gen tree explorer and customizable launcher|
|Cerebro||Fast application launcher|
|cheat.sh||Community driven unified cheat sheet|
|CopyQ||Advanced clipboard manager|
|croc||Securely transfer files and folders from the command-line|
|Deskreen||Live streaming your desktop to a web browser|
|duf||Disk usage utility with more polished presentation than the classic df|
|exa||A turbo-charged alternative to the venerable ls command|
|Extension Manager||Browse, install and manage GNOME Shell Extensions|
|fd||Wonderful alternative to the venerable find|
|fkill||Kill processes quick and easy|
|fontpreview||Quickly search and preview fonts|
|horcrux||File splitter with encryption and redundancy|
|Kooha||Simple screen recorder|
|KOReader||Document viewer for a wide variety of file formats|
|Imagine||A simple yet effective image optimization tool|
|LanguageTool||Style and grammar checker for 30+ languages|
|Liquid Prompt||Adaptive prompt for Bash & Zsh|
|lnav||Advanced log file viewer for the small-scale; great for troubleshooting|
|lsd||Like exa, lsd is a turbo-charged alternative to ls|
|McFly||Navigate through your bash shell history|
|mdless||Formatted and highlighted view of Markdown files|
|Nushell||Flexible cross-platform shell with a modern feel|
|nvitop||GPU process management for NVIDIA graphics cards|
|OCRmyPDF||Add OCR text layer to scanned PDFs|
|Oh My Zsh||Framework to manage your Zsh configuration|
|Paperwork||Designed to simplify the management of your paperwork|
|PDF Mix Tool||Perform common editing operations on PDF files|
|peco||Simple interactive filtering tool that's remarkably useful|
|ripgrep||Recursively search directories for a regex pattern|
|Rnote||Sketch and take handwritten notes|
|scrcpy||Display and control Android devices|
|Sticky||Simulates the traditional “sticky note” style stationery on your desktop|
|tldr||Simplified and community-driven man pages|
|tmux||A terminal multiplexer that offers a massive boost to your workflow|
|Tusk||An unofficial Evernote client with bags of potential|
|Ulauncher||Sublime application launcher|
|Watson||Track the time spent on projects|
|Whoogle Search||Self-hosted and privacy-focused metasearch engine|
|Zellij||Terminal workspace with batteries included|
I cringe when I read about CLI utilities written in Rust. That exa binary is over 800KB! (see the exa debian amd64 package)
You make it sound like you’ve made a discovery. Next you’ll be telling us Firefox is a memory hog.
And you should remember that “software bloat always expands to make use of all the memory available” ;+}
It is not a discovery for me, but will be for some, as there are deliberate attempts to cover up how bloated rust-created binaries are. For example, the description here packages.debian.org/sid/exa: “and it is small, fast, and one single binary”. of course, “small” is relative. ‘ls’ is about 145KB. Does some colour-coding, extra columns and git compatibility justify the extra 600KB? I am old-school, probably these days the younger generation of programmers don’t care about the bloat, just the coding conveniences — I have to have a bit of a grumble about it though.
You have to take into consideration that the average amount of disk space on any given computer is growing. In the grand scheme of things, on most computers that have a 200GB or so hard drive inside, a 600KB binary is incredibly small. It’s all relative. Of course, if you’re speaking in terms of an old laptop without much disk space, that’s probably not the best use case for exa anyway. Also, I don’t think anyone is denying that rust binaries are larger than normal. It’s a fact, considering that the entire rust standard library gets compiled in. One man’s bloat is another man’s minimalism.