The next time someone tells you that in the near future, absolutely everything will migrate to the cloud, offer a one-word response: Unix.
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The computer operating systems and applications we use today have often evolved over many years, decades even, and contain tens or hundreds of millions of lines of code. Flaws in that code -- and there will always be some -- give rise to security problems that, in an internet-connected world, are an increasing problem.
Windows only: If you need your Unix command line on a Windows PC, chances are you use a terminal emulator like Cygwin—and if you do, you want to check out MinTTY. The MinTTY terminal window for Cygwin puts a native Windows interface on Cygwin which offers more keyboard shortcuts and colours and styles. Check out the difference between Cygwin and MinTTY side-by-side in the thumbnail above. Using MinTTY you can turn on window transparency, set your font, and colours, copy and paste output by just selecting it with your mouse, and scroll up using the Shift+arrow key combination. (Once it's installed, right-click on the MinTTY window and choose Options to customise it's look and keyboard shortcuts.) Here's what the full MinTTY window with transparency turned on looks like.
Wired's newly-revamped Webmonkey site has an informative guide on seeing, changing, and understanding file permissions in Unix-like systems. These are the kind of operations and syntax that can often confuse and put off first-time Linux users or command line neophytes on OS X systems, but Webmonkey details the commands you need to change permissions on however many files for whichever users you need. Worth a bookmark, and a good work-around for those unexpected "Action not permitted"-type errors. Modify User Permissions
The Digital Streets blog posts a tip on how to send Twitters from a command line using a little utility named cURL. The blog shows the command to install cURL in Ubuntu, but the app is available for Linux, Unix and OS X, and Windows as well. Once you're set up, the terminal terminology is:curl -u yourusername:yourpassword -d status="Your Message Here" http://twitter.com/statuses/update.xmlYou could save yourself a bit of time by putting most of that text into your preferred text replacement app, or setting up a terminal shortcut. Either way, it could be a convenient way to get at some of Twitter's more useful features, like setting GCal events, Remember the Milk, or just setting plain ol' SMS reminders. Got an easy way to set this up in your own OS? Share your experience in the comments. Posting to Twitter from the Terminal Window
Lifehacker reader Michael writes in with a nifty tip that was lurking in our comments all along, but deserves to see the bright light of posting. If you're already using the Unix-like Cygwin, it's an easy hack to embed Cygwin's commands into your standard Windows comand prompt; if not, it might be worth checking out the free download. The instructions follow after the jump.
Windows only: Get grep-like power at the Windows command line using Find and Replace Text (FART), a simple utility that delivers on its name's promise. Perform batch find and replace operations over multiple text files throughout directories with FART in the Windows command window. The Hackszine blog outlines one practical FART usage example: stripping out UNIX line endings on a text file. Let's say a Linux buddy of yours sent you a bunch of HTML files and they have Unix line endings that are barfing in Notepad. One simple command fixes the problem, replacing all the newlines with a full PC carriage return, line feed combo: fart --c-style *.html \n \r\n FART is a free download for Windows only. FART
Windows only: So you keep typing ls at the Windows command line instead of dir? Miss grep, wget, and tar on your PC? The open source UnixUtils project offers ports of "the most important" GNU command line utilities, including those listed as well as over 100 others. Usually we recommend using the Unix emulator Cygwin to get *nix command line goodness in Windows, but UnixUtils doesn't depend on the whole Cygwin layer to run—they're tried and true Windows executables. UnixUtils is a free download for Windows only. Thanks, Vijay! UnixUtils
Reprogramming your personal workflow with a productivity system is a lot like programming computer software: given a stream of incoming information and tasks, you set up holding spaces and logical rules for turning it all into action. Like software that automates activities, good productivity systems take the thinking out of what to do with incoming data, and make it a no-brainer to turn those bits into an accomplishment. While I'm at best a novice student of Unix philosophy and its rules for designing great software, several tenets are worth thinking about when you're designing your productivity system. Many of the rules that apply to writing great code also apply to writing down tasks and projects that you'll actually carry out instead of put off. Let's look at a few of the basic rules of Unix philosophy and how they apply to your personal productivity system. Photo by naotakem.
Upload and download files on your home PC from anywhere by turning it into a personal FTP server. With a home FTP server, you can upload and download files on your home hard drive from the office, your friend's house or to your laptop while you're on the road using any FTP client. Setting up an FTP server may sound like a complicated undertaking only system administrators can handle, but it's actually quite easy and free with open source software FileZilla. You've already heard of FileZilla's FTP client application, but the FileZilla project also offers a server application for Windows. Today we'll build an FTP server on your Windows PC with FileZilla for easy file transfers from any computer.
TechRepublic has a writeup of how users of the UNIX-based command-line email client mutt can tweak it to support some of the email triage and management techniques espoused by David Allen's Getting Things Done system:
"Mutt is extremely powerful, but lacks a little when attempting to implement GTD and the “Inbox Zero” concept. With the aid of a patch that adds support for editing the X-Label header in e-mails (mutt already supports viewing and searching based on the X-Label header), implementing the “Inbox Zero” concept is a few configuration tweaks away."