Gain new benefits by improving your old command-line tools with updated alternatives.

In our daily use of Linux/Unix systems, we use many command-line tools to complete our work and to understand and manage our systems—tools like du to monitor disk utilization and top to show system resources. Some of these tools have existed for a long time. For example, top was first released in 1984, while du‘s first release dates to 1971.

Over the years, these tools have been modernized and ported to different systems, but, in general, they still follow their original idea, look, and feel.

These are great tools and essential to many system administrators’ workflows. However, in recent years, the open source community has developed alternative tools that offer additional benefits. Some are just eye candy, but others greatly improve usability, making them a great choice to use on modern systems. These include the following five alternatives to the standard Linux command-line tools.

1. ncdu as a replacement for du

The NCurses Disk Usage (ncdu) tool provides similar results to du but in a curses-based, interactive interface that focuses on the directories that consume most of your disk space.

ncdu spends some time analyzing the disk, then displays the results sorted by your most used directories or files, like this:

ncdu 1.14.2 ~ Use the arrow keys to navigate, press ? for help
--- /home/rgerardi ------------------------------------------------------------
   96.7 GiB [##########] /libvirt
   33.9 GiB [###       ] /.crc
    7.0 GiB [          ] /Projects
.   4.7 GiB [          ] /Downloads
.   3.9 GiB [          ] /.local
    2.5 GiB [          ] /.minishift
    2.4 GiB [          ] /.vagrant.d
.   1.9 GiB [          ] /.config
.   1.8 GiB [          ] /.cache
    1.7 GiB [          ] /Videos
    1.1 GiB [          ] /go
  692.6 MiB [          ] /Documents
. 591.5 MiB [          ] /tmp
  139.2 MiB [          ] /.var
  104.4 MiB [          ] /.oh-my-zsh
   82.0 MiB [          ] /scripts
   55.8 MiB [          ] /.mozilla
   54.6 MiB [          ] /.kube
   41.8 MiB [          ] /.vim
   31.5 MiB [          ] /.ansible
   31.3 MiB [          ] /.gem
   26.5 MiB [          ] /.VIM_UNDO_FILES
   15.3 MiB [          ] /Personal
    2.6 MiB [          ]  .ansible_module_generated
    1.4 MiB [          ] /backgrounds
  944.0 KiB [          ] /Pictures
  644.0 KiB [          ]  .zsh_history
  536.0 KiB [          ] /.ansible_async
 Total disk usage: 159.4 GiB  Apparent size: 280.8 GiB  Items: 561540

Navigate to each entry by using the arrow keys. If you press Enter on a directory entry, ncdu displays the contents of that directory:

--- /home/rgerardi/libvirt ----------------------------------------------------
                         /..
   91.3 GiB [##########] /images
    5.3 GiB [          ] /media

You can use that to drill down into the directories and find which files are consuming the most disk space. Return to the previous directory by using the Left arrow key. By default, you can delete files with ncdu by pressing the d key, and it asks for confirmation before deleting a file. If you want to disable this behavior to prevent accidents, use the -r option for read-only access: ncdu -r.

ncdu is available for many platforms and Linux distributions. For example, you can use dnf to install it on Fedora directly from the official repositories:

$ sudo dnf install ncdu

You can find more information about this tool on the ncduweb page.

2. htop as a replacement for top

htop is an interactive process viewer similar to top but that provides a nicer user experience out of the box. By default, htop displays the same metrics as top in a pleasant and colorful display.

Read the full article here.