Utilities

Excellent Utilities: lsd – next gen ls command

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 at the end of each page.

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.

The part of the operating system responsible for managing files and directories is called the file system. It organizes our data into files, which hold information, and directories (also called ‘folders’), which hold files or other directories. Several commands are frequently used to create, inspect, rename, and delete files and directories.

One of these commands is ls, which prints the names of the files and directories in the current directory. A directory is really just a file. It’s a special file with special rules. The ls utility appeared in the first version of AT&T UNIX.

Are you looking to liven up your shell? Want a bit more beauty on your terminal? lsd is an enhancement for the venerable ls command. It’s written in Go.

Installation

There’s quite a few methods to install the software on our Ubuntu systems. We can use Rust’s package manager cargo, use the developer’s official Ubuntu package, install with a snap, or even install a precompiled binary.

We chose the first method. On a vanilla Ubuntu 21.04 installation, cargo isn’t installed by default. Rectify that with the command:

$ sudo apt install cargo

Next we installed lsd using cargo.

$ cargo install lsd

We also need to install the patched fonts of powerline nerd-font and/or font-awesome. There are instructions on the project’s GitHub page.

One further step is that 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.

For the bash shell we follow these steps:

  • Open the .bashrc file in our home directory (~/.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:

Excellent Utilities
tmuxA terminal multiplexer that offers a massive boost to your workflow
lnavAdvanced log file viewer for the small-scale; great for troubleshooting
PaperworkDesigned to simplify the management of your paperwork
AbricotineMarkdown editor with inline preview functionality
mdlessFormatted and highlighted view of Markdown files
fkillKill processes quick and easy
TuskAn unofficial Evernote client with bags of potential
UlauncherSublime application launcher
McFlyNavigate through your bash shell history
LanguageToolStyle and grammar checker for 30+ languages
pecoSimple interactive filtering tool that's remarkably useful
Liquid PromptAdaptive prompt for Bash & Zsh
AnanicyShell daemon created to manage processes’ IO and CPU priorities
cheat.shCommunity driven unified cheat sheet
ripgrepRecursively search directories for a regex pattern
exaA turbo-charged alternative to the venerable ls command
OCRmyPDFAdd OCR text layer to scanned PDFs
WatsonTrack the time spent on projects
fontpreviewQuickly search and preview fonts
fdWonderful alternative to the venerable find
scrcpyDisplay and control Android devices
dufDisk usage utility with more polished presentation than the classic df
tldrSimplified and community-driven man pages
lsdLike exa, lsd is a turbo-charged alternative to ls
brootNext gen tree explorer and customizable launcher
DeskreenLive streaming your desktop to a web browser
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