Posts Tagged ‘midnight commander’

Text Monitoring of connection server (traffic RX / TX) business in ASCII graphs with speedometer / Easy Monitor network traffic performance

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Reading Time: 7minutes

While reading some posts online related to MS-Windows TcpViewnetwork traffic analyzing tool. I've came across very nice tool for tracking connection speed for Linux (Speedometer). If I have to compare it, speedometer is somehow similar to nethogs and iftop bandwidth network measuring utilities .

What differentiates speedometer from iftop / nethogs / iptraf is it is more suitable for visualizing a network file or data transfers.
The graphs speedometer draws are way easier to understand, than iftop graphs.

Even complete newbies can understand it with no need for extraordinary knowledge in networking. This makes Speedometer, a top tool to visually see the amount of traffic flowing through server network interface (eth0) … (eth1) etc.

What speedometer shows is similar to the Midnight Commander's (mc) file transfer status bar, except the statistics are not only for a certain file transfer but can show overall statistics over server passing network traffic amount (though according to its manual it can be used to also track individual file transfers).

The simplicity for basic use makes speedometer nice tool to track for network congestion issues on Linux. Therefore it is a  must have outfit for every server admin. Below you see a screenshot of my terminal running speedometer on a remote server.

Speedometer ascii traffic track server network business screenshot in byobu screen like virtual terminal emulator

1. Installing speedometer on Debian / Ubuntu and Debian derivatives

For Debian and Ubuntu server administrators speedometer is already packaged as a deb so its installation is as simple as:

debian:~# apt-get --yes install speedometer

2. Installing speedometer from source for other Linux distributions CentOS, Fedora, SuSE etc.

Speedometer is written in python programming language, so in order to install and use on other OS Linux platforms, it is necessery to have installed (preferably) an up2date python programming language interpreter (python ver. 2.6 or higher)..
Besides that it is necessary to have installed the urwid -( console user interface library for Python) available for download via


Hence to install speedometer on RedHat based Linux distributions one has to follow these steps:

a) Download & Install python urwid library

[root@centos ~]# cd /usr/local/src
[root@centos src]# wget -q
[root@centos src]# tar -zxvvf urwid-1.0.1.tar.gz
[root@centos src]# cd urwid-1.0.1
[root@centos urwid-1.0.1]# python install
running install
running build
running build_py
creating build
creating build/lib.linux-i686-2.4
creating build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid
copying urwid/ -> build/lib.linux-i686-2.4/urwid

b) Download and install python-setuptools

python-setuptools is one other requirement of speedometer, happily on CentOS and Fedora the rpm package is already there and installable with yum:

[root@centos ~]# yum -y install python-setuptools

c) Download and install Speedometer

[root@centos urwid-1.0.1]# cd /usr/local/src/
[root@centos src]# wget -q
[root@centos src]# tar -zxvvf speedometer-2.8.tar.gz
[root@centos src]# cd speedometer-2.8
[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# python install
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "", line 26, in ?
import speedometer
File "/usr/local/src/speedometer-2.8/", line 112
n = n * granularity + (granularity if r else 0)

While running the CentOS 5.6 installation of speedometer-2.8, I hit the
"n = n * granularity + (granularity if r else 0)

After consultation with some people in #python (, I've figured out this error is caused due the outdated version of python interpreter installed by default on CentOS Linux 5.6. On CentOS 5.6 the python version is:

[root@centos ~]# python -V
Python 2.4.3

As I priorly said speedometer 2.8's minimum requirement for a python to be at v. 2.6. Happily there is quick way to update python 2.4 to python 2.6 on CentOS 5.6, as there is an RPM repository maintained by Chris Lea which contains RPM binary of python 2.6.

To update python 2.4 to python 2.6:

[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# rpm -Uvh[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-CHL[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# yum install python26

Now the newly installed python 2.6 is executable under the binary name python26, hence to install speedometer:

[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# python26 install
[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# chown root:root /usr/local/bin/speedometer
[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# chmod +x /usr/local/bin/speedometer

[root@centos speedometer-2.8]# python26 speedometer -i 1 -tx eth0

The -i will instruct speedometer to refresh the screen graphs once a second.

3. Using speedometer to keep an eye on send / received traffic network congestion

To observe, the amount of only sent traffic via a network interface eth0 with speedometer use:

debian:~# speedometer -tx eth0

To only keep an eye on received traffic through eth0 use:

debian:~# speedometer -rx eth0

To watch over both TX and RX (Transmitted and Received) network traffic:

debian:~# speedometer -tx eth0 -rx eth0

If you want to watch in separate windows TX and RX traffic while  running speedometer you can run in separate xterm windows speedometer -tx eth0 and speedometer -rx eth0, like in below screenshot:

Monitor Received and Transmitted server Network traffic in two separate xterm windows with speedometer ascii graphs

4. Using speedometer to test network maximum possible transfer speed between server (host A) and server (host B)

The speedometer manual suggests few examples one of which is:

How fast is this LAN?

host-a$ cat /dev/zero | nc -l -p 12345
host-b$ nc host-a 12345 > /dev/null
host-b$ speedometer -rx eth0

When I red this example in speedometer's manual, it wasn't completely clear to me what the author really meant, but a bit after when I thought over the example I got his point.

The idea behind this example is that a constant stream of zeros taken from /dev/zero will be streamed over via a pipe (|) to nc which will bind a port number 12345, anyone connecting from another host machine, lets say a server with host host-b to port 12345on machine host-a will start receiving the /dev/zero streamed content.

Then to finally measure the streamed traffic betweenhost-a and host-b machines a speedometer is started to visualize the received traffic on network interfaceeth0, thus measuring the amount of traffic flowing from host-a to host-b

I give a try to the exmpls, using for 2 test nodes my home Desktop PC, Linux running  arcane version of Ubuntu and my Debian Linux notebook.

First on the Ubuntu PC I issued

hipo@hip0-desktop:~$ cat /dev/zero | nc -l -p 12345

Note that I have previously had installed the netcat, as nc is not installed by default on Ubuntu and Debian. If you, don't have nc installed yet, install it with:

apt-get –yes install netcat

"cat /dev/zero | nc -l -p 12345" will not produce any output, but will display just a blank line.

Then on my notebook I ran the second command example, given in the speedometer manual:

hipo@noah:~$ nc 12345 > /dev/null

Here the is actually the local network IP address of my Desktop PC. My Desktop PC is connected via a normal 100Mbit switch to my routing machine and receives its internet via  NAT. The second test machine (my laptop), gets its internet through a WI-FI connection received by a Wireless Router connected via a UTP cable to the same switch to which my Desktop PC is connected.

Finally to test / get my network maximum thoroughput I had to use:

hipo@noah:~$ speedometer -rx wlan0

Here, I  monitor my wlan0 interface, as this is my (laptop) wireless card interface over which I have connectivity to my local network and via which through the the WI-FI router I get connected to the internet.

Below is a snapshot captured showing approximately what is the max network thoroughput from:

Desktop PC -> to my Thinkpad R61 laptop

Using Speedometer to test network thorougput between two network server hosts screenshot Debian Squeeze Linux

As you can see in the shot approximately the maximum network thoroughput is in between:
2.55MB/s min and 2.59MB/S max, the speed is quite low for a 100 MBit local network, but this is normal as most laptop wireless adapters hardly transfer traffic in more than 10 to 20 MBits per sec.

If the same nework thoroughput test is conducted between two machines both connected to a same 100 M/bit switch, the traffic should be at least a 8 MB/sec.

There is something, else to take in consideration that probably makes the provided example network thoroughput measuring a bit inaccurate. The fact that the /dev/zero content is stremed over is slowing down the zeroes sent over network because of the  pipe ( | ) use slows down the stream.

5. Using speedometer to visualize maximum writting speed to a local hard drive on Linux

In the speedometer manual, I've noticed another interesting application of this nifty tool.

speedometer can be used to track and visualize the maximum writing speed a hard disk drive or hard drive partition can support on Linux OS:

A copy paster from the manual text is as follows:

How fast can I write data to my filesystem? (with at least 1GB free)
dd bs=1000000 count=1000 if=/dev/zero of=bigfile &
speedometer bigfile

However, when I tried copy/pasting the example in terminal, to test the maximum writing speed to an external USB hard drive, only dd command was started and speedometer failed to initialize and display graphs of the file creation speed.

I've found a little "hack" that makes the man example work by adding a 3 secs sleep like so:

debian:/media/Expansion Drive# dd bs=1000000 count=1000 if=/dev/zero of=bigfile & sleep 3; speedometer bigfile

Here is a screenshot of the bigfile created by dd and tracked "in real time" by speedometer:

How fast is writting data to local USB expandable hard disk Debian Linux speedometer screenshot

Actually the returned results from this external USB drive are, quite high, the possible reason for that is it is connected to my laptop over an USB protocol verion 3.

6. Using Speedometer to keep an eye on file download in progress

This application of speedometer is mostly useless especially on Linux where it is used as a Desktop.

However in some occasions if files are transferred over ssh or in non interactive FTP / Samba file transfers between Linux servers it can come handy.

To visualize the download and writing speed of lets say FTP transferred .AVI movie (during the actual file transfer) on the download host issue:

# speedometer Download-Folder/What-goes-around-comes-around.avi

7. Estimating approximate time for file transfer

There is another section in the speedometer manual pointing of the program use to calculate the time remaining for a file transfer.

The (man speedometer) provided example text is:

How long it will take for my 38MB transfer to finish?
speedometer favorite_episode.rm $((38*1024*1024))

At first glimpse it hard to understand (like the other manual example). A bit of reasoning and I comprehend what the man author meant by the obscure calculation:


This is a formula used in which 38 has to be substituted with the exact file size amount of the transferred file. The author manual used a 38MB file so this is why he put $((38* … in the formula.

I give it a try – (just for the sake to see how it works) with a file with a size of 2500MB, in below two screenshot pictures I show my preparation to copy the file and the actual copying / "real time" transfer tracking with speedometer's status percentage completion bar.

xterm terminal copy file and estimate file copying operation speed on linux with speedometer preparation

Two xterm terminals one is copying a file the other one uses speedometer to estimate the time remaining to complete the file transfer from expansion USB hard drive to my laptop harddrive


Linux: Configure Midnight Commander to use mcedit instead of nano or vi text editor

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Reading Time: 2minutes

reverting mc text editor to mcedit fix problem with mcedit not working in linux

I use Midnight Commander console file manager on any UNIX like servers, since my early days as system administrator. mc comes with its own text editor mcedit which is often very handy for reading config files or pieces of source code. Many times I had to modify files which were spitting errors which I couldn't track in VIM, jor or whatever text editor had on server at hand and after checking file with mcedit I caught my config or source code mistake. I guess many other admins has similar nice experiences with mcedit Internal file editor of GNU Midnight Commander. Nowadays, I install mostly Debian Linux on new configured servers and using mc to navigate in file system is very useful. I prefer mc to open files for edit with F4 (Edit – kbd shortcut) with its default mcedit, however for some reasons most of Debian / Ubuntu and other Linuxes, nowadays has set global environment text editor to nano. I totally dislike this text editor and like changing mc always to use mcedit. This is done straight from MC menus by:

Pressing F9 -> Going to Options -> Configuration -> (Setting mark on) -> Use Inernal Edit

unix terminal file manager midnight commander configuration menu screenshot

linux console file manager midnight commander use internal edit menu unchecked screenshot


How to set repository to install binary packages on amd64 FreeBSD 9.1

Friday, January 11th, 2013

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Though, it is always good idea to build from source for better performance of Apache + MySQL + PHP, its not worthy the time on installing minor things like; trafshow, tcpdump or deco (MC – midnight commander like native freebsd BSD program).

If you're on a 64 bit version of FreeBSD ( amd64) 9.1 and you try to install a binary package with;

freebsd# pkg_add -vr vim

Ending up with an error;

Error: Unable to get File unavailable (e.g., file not found, no access)
pkg_add: unable to fetch '' by URL
pkg_add: 1 package addition(s) failed

The error is caused by lack of special packages-9.1-release directory existing on servers. I've realized this after doing a quick manual check opening The existing URL containing working fbsd 9.1 binaries is:

You will have toset a repository for FreeBSD 9.1 amd64 packages manually with cmd:
freebsd# echo $SHELL
freebsd# setenv PACKAGESITE

If you're on bash shell use export instead:

freebsd# export PACKAGESITE=""

To make as a permanent binary repository:

echo 'setenv PACKAGESITE' >> /root/.cshrc


echo 'export PACKAGESITE=""' >> /root/.bashrc

Now, pkg_add as much as you like 😉

Text mode (console) browsing with tabs with Elinks / Text browsers – (lynx, elinks, links and w3m) useful HTTP debugging tools for Linux and FreeBSD servers

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Reading Time: 5minutes

The last days, I'm starting to think the GUI use is making me brainless so I'm getting back to my old habits of using console.
I still remember with a grain of nostalgy how much more efficient I used to be when the way to interact with my computer was primary in text mode console.
Actually, I'm starting to get this idea the more new a software is the more inefficient it makes your use of computer, not to mention the hardware resources required by newer software is constantly increasing.

With this said, I started occasionally browsing again like in the old days by using links text browser.
In the old days I mostly used lynx and its more advanced "brother" text browser links.
The main difference between lynx and links is that lynx does not have any support for the terrible "javascript", whether links supports most of the Javascript ver 2.
Also links and has a midnight commander like pull down menus on the screen top, – handy for people who prefer some more interactivity.

In the past I remember I used also to browse graphically in normal consoles (ttys) with a hacked version of links calledTThere is also a variation of linksxlinks suitable for people who would like to have graphical browser in console (ttys).

I used xlinks quite heavily in the past, when I have slower computer P166Mhz with 64MB of memory 2.5 GB HDD (What a times boy what a times) .
Maybe when I have time I will install it on my PC and start using it again like in the old days to boost my computer use efficiency…
I remember the only major xlinks downside was it doesn't included support for Adobe flash (though this is due to the bad non-free software nature of Adobe lack of proper support for free software and not a failure of xlinks developers. Anyways for me this wasn't a big trouble since, ex Macromedia (Adobe) Flash support is not something essential for most of my work…

links2 is actually the naming of links version 2. elinks emerged later (if I remember correctly, as fork project of links).
elinks difference with links constitutes in this it supports tabbed browsing as well as colors (links browser displays results monochrome).

Having a tabbed browsing support in tty console is a great thing…
I personally belive text browsing if properly used can in many ways outbeat, graphic browsing in terms of performance and time spend to obtain data. I'm convinced text browsing is superior for two reasons:
1. with text there is way less elements to obstruct your attention.
– No graphical annoying flash banners, no annoying taking the attention pictures

2. Navigating in web pages using the keyboard is more efficient than mouse
– Using keyboard shorcuts is always quicker than mouse, generally keboard has always been a quicker way to access computer commands.

Another reason to use text browsing is, it is mostly the text part of a page that matters, most of the pages that provide images to better explain a topic are bloated (this is my personal view though, i'm sure designer guys will argue me :D).
Here is a screenshot of a my links text browser in action, I'm sorry the image is a bit unreadable, but after taking a screenshot of the console and resizing it with GIMP this is what I got …

Links text console browser screenshot with 2 tabs opened Debian GNU / Linux

For all those new to Linux who didn't tried text browsing yet and for those interested in computer history, I suggest you install and give a try to following text browsers:

  • lynx
  • (Supports colorful text console text browsing)
    lynx text console browser Debian Squeeze GNU / Linux Screenshot

  • links
  • Links www text console browser screenshot on Debian Linux

  • elinks
  • (Supports colors filled text browsing and tabs)
    elinks opened google alternative search engine in mlterm terminal Debian Linux

  • w3m
  • w3m one of the oldest text console browsers screenshot Debian Linux Squeeze 6.2

By the way having the 4 text browsers is very useful for debugging purposes for system administrators too, so in any case I think this 4 web browsers are absoutely required software for newly installed GNU / Linux or BSD* based servers.

For Debian and the derivatives Linux distributions, the 4 browsers are available as deb packages, so install them with following apt 1 liner:

debian:~# apt-get –yes install w3m elinks links lynx

FreeBSD users can install the browsers using, cmd:

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/www/w3mfreebsd# make install clean
freebsd# cd /usr/ports/www/elinksfreebsd# make install clean
freebsd# cd /usr/ports/www/linksfreebsd# make install clean
freebsd# cd /usr/ports/www/lynxfreebsd# make install clean

In links using the tabs functionality appeared, somewhere near the 2001 or 2000 (at least that was the first time I saw links with tabbed browsing enabled). My first time to saw links support opening multiple pages within the same screen under tabs was on Redhat Linux 9

Opening multiple pages in tabs in the text browser is done by pressing the t key and typing in the desired URL to open isnide.
For more than 2 tabs, again t has to be pressed and same procedure goes on and on.
It was pretty hard for me to figure out how I can do a text browsing with tabs, though I found a way to open new tabs it took me some 10 minutes in pondering how to switch between the new opened links browser tabs.

Hence, I thought it would be helpful to mention here how tabs can be switched in links text browser. Actually it turned it is pretty easy to Switch tabs tabs back and foward.

1 tab to move backwards is done with < (key), wheter switching one tab forward is done with the > key.

On UK and US qwerty keyboards alignment the movement a tab backward and forward is done with holding shift and pressing < onwards holding both keys simultaneously and analogously with pressing shift + >

How to play Audio music CDs in GNU/Linux and Free/Net/Open BSDs

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Reading Time: 2minutes

If you still have some old dusty CDs left on the CD shelf, its quite cool to give it a ride in a rainy morning.

As I enjoy working in console so much, I thought it might be interesting to share how music audio CDs can be listened in plain text mode console.

For all console / terminal geeks Linux and BSDs can be equipped with a number of text/console audio cd console players.

There are plenty of free software console cd audio players on the net, however I found cdplay , cdcd and dcd to be the most popular ones.

On Debian and Ubuntu G*/Linuces cdplay and cdcd are installable via apt. To install cdtool:

root@xubuntu-desktop:~# apt-get install cdtool

cdtool package, contains a number of commands enabling you to listen/stop/shuffle/eject/get info about cd audio volumes. cdtool provides the following binaries:


Install cdcd on Debian and alike by typing:

root@xubuntu-desktop:~# apt-get install cdcd

cdcd has shell like interface the most basic use of it is with:

root@xubuntu-desktop:~# cdcd
cdcd> play

To play audiocds in console on FreeBSD , a command tool dcd is available and installable through ports.
To install it issue:

root@freebsd# cd /usr/ports/audio/dcd
root@freebsd# make install clean

dcd is also available for Linux but on most GNU/Linuxes it has to be built from source.

Lets say you'd like to Play the 5th song from audio CD:

freebsd# dcd 5

dcd has plenty of great arguments, to get some fun with it check the man page.

Another program that can be used to play audio CDs on both Linux and BSDs is the "classical" mplayer .

To play AUDIO CD with mplayer the command line to use is:

root@debian:~# mplayer -cdrom-device /dev/sr0 cdda:// -cache 5000

The argument -cache 5000 has to be passed to to work around choppy sound (if for example audio playback interruptions every few milliseconds).

For people who are keen on ncurses (Midnight Commander) like command line interfaces you might enjoy Herrie a minimalistic music player that supports plenty of sound formats, including audiocds.

Herrie is available for Debian and most deb based modern distros via apt, e.g.:

root@xubuntu-desktop:~# apt-get install herrie

Herrie Minimalistic Music player for Linux and BSD

Ports are also available for FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD.
To install on FreeBSD:

root@freebsd# cd /usr/ports/audio/herrie
root@freebsd# make install clean

I'll be happy to hear feedback and recommendations on any other console audio cd players I might forgot to mention.
Which is your favourite console text based cd audio player?