exa is a genuine alternative to ls. You don’t lose any speed, and gain a number of useful advantages that makes for a compelling usage case. I use exa at least 50 times a day.
The tool offers a good range of features which should meet your requirements. There’s support for Git which lets you view staged and unstaged status of every file. There’s also support for 24-bit colours, the ability to toggle colours on or off, effective file filtering, and the utility recognizes pipes, devices, and sockets.
There are plans to add hyperlink rendering support which will be a useful addition. Other features I’d like to see are the ability to show file sizes for parent directories, and an option to specify the order of columns in long view. The developer intends to make it possible to hide and reorder each column.
There’s a detailed man page, but on my system typing man exa at the shell brings up the man page for different software: 2D acceleration architecture for X.Org.
I’d also like configurable colors. On my default terminal, output is quite hard to read. Whether this is a problem for you depends on your terminal background settings. Of course, you can adjust your terminal colours, but that’s not an ideal solution.
exa is written as a binary that’s a thin wrapper around a library. The project has attracted over 8,000 GitHub stars, an indication it’s a popular project.
If you’re interested in contributing to the exa project, why not brush up your Rust knowledge? Here’s some great free Rust books to learn about the language.
Support: Documentation, GitHub Code Repository
Developer: Benjamin Sago and many contributors
License: MIT License
exa is written in Rust. Learn Rust with our recommended free books and free tutorials.
Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Installation
Page 2 – In Operation
Page 3 – Summary
Complete list of articles in this series:
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|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.