Unleashing the Power of the Terminal: Essential Tools Every Developer Should Knowby@saschadev
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Unleashing the Power of the Terminal: Essential Tools Every Developer Should Know

by Sascha BajonczakJuly 13th, 2023
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This post outlines my list of tools that every developer must have or has heard about ;).

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As developers, we spend a lot of our time in the terminal. Most of the developers I talked to use several tools in their console... yes, the console, that itchy thing that will only display letters and numbers. This tool is more powerful than you think. And there are very many nice handy tools to use.

This post outlines my list of tools that every developer must have or has heard about ;).

So let's get started!


thefuck - Auto-correct miss-typed commands

thefuck is one of those utilities you won't be able to live without once you've tried it. Whenever you mis-type a command and get an error, just run fuck and it'll auto-correct it. Use up/down to choose a correction, or just run fuck --yeah to just execute the most likely immediately.


tldr - Community-maintained docs (better man)

tldr is a huge collection of community-maintained man pages. Unlike traditional man pages, they're summarized, contain useful usage examples and nicely colourized for easy reading


scc - Count lines of code (better cloc)

scc gives you a breakdown of number of lines of code written in each language for a specific directory. It also shows some fun stats, like estimated cost to develop and complexity info. It's incredibly fast, very accurate and has support for a wide range of languages


exa - Listing Files (better ls)

exa is a modern Rust-based replacement for the ls command, for listing files. It can display file-type icons, colors, file/folder info and has several output formats - tree, grid or list


duf - Disk Usage (better df)

duf is great for showing info about mounted disks and checking free space. It produces a clear and colorful output, and includes options for sorting and customizing results.


aria2 - Download Utility (better wget)

aria2 is a lightweight, multi-protocol, resuming download utility for HTTP/HTTPS, FTP, SFTP, BitTorrent and Metalink, with support for controlling via an RPC interface. It's incredibly feature rich, and has tons of options. There's also ziahamza/webui-aria2 - a nice web interface companion.


bat - Reading Files (better cat)

bat is a clone of cat with syntax highlighting and git integration. Written in Rust, it's very performant, and has several options for customizing output and theming. There's support for automatic piping and file concatenation


diff-so-fancy - File Comparisons (better diff)

diff-so-fancy gives you better looking diffs for comparing strings, files, directories and git changes. The change highlighting makes spotting changes much easier, and you can customize the output layout and colors


entr - Watch for changes

entr lets you run an arbitrary command whenever file changes. You can pass a file, directory, symlink or regex to specify which files it should watch. It's really useful for automatically rebuilding projects, reacting to logs, automated testing, etc. Unlike similar projects, it uses kqueue(2) or inotify(7) to avoid polling, and improve performance


exiftool - Reading + writing metadata

ExifTool is handy utility for reading, writing, stripping and creating meta information for a wide variety of file types. Never accidentally leak your location when sharing a photo again!


fdupes - Duplicate file finder

jdupes is used for identifying and/or deleting duplicate files within specified directories. It's useful for freeing up disk space when you've got two or more identical files


fzf - Fuzzy file finder (better find)

fzf is an extremely powerful, and easy to use fuzzy file finder and filtering tool. It lets you search for a string or pattern across files. fzf also has plugins available for most shells and IDEs, for showing instant results while searching. This post by Alexey Samoshkin highlights some of it's use cases.


hyperfine - Command benchmarking

hyperfine makes it easy to accurately benchmark and compare arbitrary commands or scripts. It takes care of warm-up runs, clearing the cache for accurate results and preventing interference from other programs. It can also export results as raw data and generate charts.


procs - Process viewer (better ps)

procs is an easy to navigate process viewer, it has colored highlighting, makes sorting and searching for processes easy, has tree view and updates in real-time


ripgrep - Search within files (better grep)

ripgrep is a line-oriented search tool that recursively searches the current directory for a regex pattern. It can ignore the contents of .gitignore and skip binary files. It's able to search within compressed archives, or only search specific extension, and understands files using various encoding methods


rsync - Fast, incremental file transfer

rsync lets you copy large files locally or to or from remote hosts or external drives. It can be used to keep files across multiple locations synced, and is perfect for creating, updating and restoring backups

sd - Find and replace (better sed)

sd is an easy, fast and intuitive find and replace tool, based on string literals. It can be executed on a file, an entire directory, or any piped text


tre - Directory hierarchy (better tree)

tre outputs a tree stye list of files for your current or a specified directory, with colors. When running with the -e option, it numbers each item, and creates a temporary alias that you can use to quickly jump to that location


CLI Monitoring and Performance Apps

bandwhich - Bandwidth utilization monitor

Show bandwidth usage, connection information, outgoing hosts and DNS queries in real-time


ctop - Container metrics and monitoring

Like top, but for monitoring resource usage for running (Docker and runC) containers. It shows real-time CPU, memory and network bandwidth as well as the name, status and ID of each container. There's also a built-in log viewer, and options to manage (stop, start, exec, etc) containers


bpytop - Resource monitoring (better htop)

bpytop is a fast, interactive, visual resource monitor. It shows top running processes, recent CPU, mem, disk and network history. From the interface you can navigate, sort and search - there's also support for custom color themes


glances - Resource monitor + web and API

glances is another resource monitor, but with a different feature set. It includes a fully responsive web view, a REST API and historical monitoring. It's easily extendable, and can be integrated with other services


gping - Interactive ping tool (better ping)

gping can run ping tests on multiple hosts, while showing results in real-time graph. It can also be used to monitor execution time, when used with the --cmd flag


dua-cli - Disk usage analyzer and monitor (better du)

dua-cli let's you interactively view used and available disk space for each mounted drive, and makes freeing up storage easy


speedtest-cli - Command line speed test utility

speedtest-cli just runs an internet speed test, via - but straight from the terminal :)


dog - DNS lookup client (better dig)

dog is an easy-to-use DNS lookup client, with support for DoT and DoH, nicely coloured outputs and the option to emit JSON


CLI Productivity Apps

Surf the web, play music, check emails, manage calendars, read the news and more, all without leaving the terminal!

browsh - CLI web browser

browsh is a fully interactive, real-time, and modern text-based browser rendered to TTYs and browsers. It supports both mouse and keyboard navigation, and is surprisingly feature rich for a purely terminal based application. It also mitigates battery drain issues that plague modern browsers, and with support for MoSH, you can experience faster load times due to reduced bandwidth


buku - Bookmark manager

buku is a terminal-based bookmark manager, with tons of configuration, storage and usage options. There's also an optional web UI and browser plugin, for accessing your bookmarks outside of the terminal


cmus - Music browser / player

cmus is terminal music player, controlled with keyboard shortcuts. It has support for a wide range of audio formats and codecs, and allows organising tracks into playlists and applying playback settings


cointop - Track crypto prices

cointop show current crypto prices, and track the price history of your portfolio. Supports price alerts, historical charts, currency conversion, fuzzy searching, and much more. You can try the demo via the web at, or by running ssh


ddgr - Search the web from the terminal

ddgr is like googler, but for DuckDuckGo. It's fast, clean and easy, with support for instant answers, search completion, search bangs, and advanced search. It respects your privacy by default, and also has HTTPS proxy support, and works with Tor


micro - Code editor (better nano)

micro is an easy to use, fast and extendable code editor with mouse support. Since it's packaged into a single binary, installation is as simple as curl | bash


khal - Calendar client

khal is a terminal calendar app, which shows upcoming events, month and agenda views. You can sync it with any CalDAV calendar, and add, edit and remove events directly


mutt - Email client

mut is a classic, a terminal based mail client for sending, reading and managing emails. It supports all mainstream email protocols and mailbox formats, allows for attachments, BCC/CC, threads, mailing lists and delivery status notifications


newsboat - RSS / ATOM news reader

newsboat is an RSS feed reader and aggregator, for reading the news, blogs and following updates directly from the terminal


taskwarrior - Todo + task management

task is a CLI task management/ todo app. It's both simple and unobtrusive, but also incredibly powerful and scalable, with advanced organisation and query features built in. There's also a lot (700+!) of extra plugins for extending it's functionality and integrating with third-party services


tuir - Terminal UI for Reddit

tuir is a great one if you want to look like you're working, while actually browsing Reddit! It's got intuitive keybindings, custom themes, and can render images and multi-media content too. There's also haxor for hacker news


CLI Dev Suits

httpie - HTTP / API testing testing client

httpie is a HTTP client, for testing, debugging and using APIs. It supports everything you'd expect - HTTPS, proxies, authentication, custom headers, persistent sessions, JSON parsing. Usage is simple with an expressive syntax and colourized output. Like other HTTP clients (Postman, Hopscotch, Insomnia, etc) HTTPie also includes a web UI


lazydocker - Full Docker management app

lazydocker is a Docker management app, that lets you view all containers and images, manage their state, read logs, check resource usage, restart/ rebuild, analyse layers, prune unused containers, images and volumes, and so much more. It saves you from needing remember, type and chain multiple Docker commands.


lazygit - Full Git management app

lazygit is a visual git client, on the command line. Easily add, commit and puch files, resolve conflicts, compare diffs, manage logs, and do complex operations like squashes and rewinds. There's keybindings for everything, colors, and it's easily configurable and extenable


CLI External Sercvices

ngrok - Reverse proxy for sharing localhost

ngrok safely* exposes your localhost to the internet behind a unique URL. This lets you share what you're working on with you're remote colleagues, in real-time. Usage is very simple, but it's also got a lot of advanced features for things like authentication, webhooks, firewalls, traffic inspection, custom/ wildcard domains and much more

ngrok-example-usage - Fast file sharing

transfer makes uploading and sharing files really easy, directly from the command line. It's free, supports encryption, gives you a unique URL, and can also be self-hosted.I've written a Bash helper function to make usage a bit easier, you can find it here or try it out by running bash <(curl -L -s


surge - Deploy a site in seconds

surge is a free static hosting provider, that you can deploy to directly from the terminal in a single command, just run surge from within your dist directory! It supports custom domains, auto SSL certs, pushState support, cross-origin resource support - and it's free!

surge-sh-example-usage - Check the weather is a service that displays the weather in a format that's digestible in the command line. Just run curl or curl to try it out. There's URL parameters to customise what data is returned, as well as the format



cowsay - Have an ASCII cow say your message

cowsay is a configurable talking cow. It's based off the original by Tony Monroe


figlet - Output text as big ASCII art text

figlet outputs text as ASCII art


lolcat - Make console output raibow colored

lolcat makes any text passed to it rainbow coloured


neofetch - Show system data and ditstro info

neofetch prints distro and system info (so you can flex that you use Arch btw on r/unixporn)


As an example, I'm using cowsay, figlet, lolcat and neofetch to create a custom time-based MOTD shown to the user when they first log in. It greets them by their name, shows server info and time, date, weather and IP. Here's the source code.



I think there is at least one interesting tool for you and your productivity enlisted in this list. Hope you enjoy!

Also published here.