When I was strictly a windows admin, I spent a lot of time digging around try to find the perfect utilities to provide the little extras that make a system run properly. Things such as the AdminPak, almost anything on sysinternals, etc. made my job so much easier. I spent a little time digging through the Add/Remove Programs feature of Gutsy recently and am amazed at the magnitude of options for sys admins that are available now. These are the tools I have recently been working with in no particular order:
This tool will allow you to create and burn an iso of all the packages in your apt cache. The strongest benefit of being able to do this not waiting for updates to download on each machine. It is also helpful for any computers that may be isolated from the Internet for security reasons (i.e. the ones with personal files that should remain personal). While working in the corporate world, there was always that one machine hiding in a corner that no one else had updated in years. I was always the one crazy enough to touch it. Having a tool like this saves the time you would normally spend staring at a progress bar.
While harddrives seem to increase in capacity every few months, we can’t expect everyone to go out and grab a terrabyte all at once, right? Included by default in the past few Ubuntu releases, this application allows you to dig down into a harddrive and answer the all important question of where all that storage went that seemed like plenty 6 months ago. It works on pretty much anything mountable (including the thumbdrives that I constantly run out of room on).
Remember how msconfig could turn a crawling 98 box into a racehorse again? Ubuntu has a tool called Boot-up Manager that provides similar capabilities. With it, you can control services and modify your startup and shutdown scripts. Very handy for experimenting with servers that don’t need to start all the time.
Tunnel, tunnel, tunnel. When in doubt as to your access, tunnel the traffic. gSTM allows you to store SSH tunnel configurations and enable these connections on the fly. This is ideal for remote administration of those insecure services we try our best to avoid making public (telnet, vnc, web, etc.).
Mounting an iso image has never been easier. Why would you mount an iso image? Because you can, of course!
The top command is very useful, but Htop adds a few features, such as a full path to the command that is running and graphical representations of resource usage.
Find all those extra packages that loom around after testing.
A tool to graphically configure all profile settings, with the ability to clone settings among users. This is an absolutely necessary tool for multi-user systems. Create a new profile and select Edit, an x-session pops up on the screen. Ideal for setting up menus for my daughter’s profile where she won;t need access to tools such as User Profile Editor.
In closing, I want to emphasize a piece of knowledge before I spend tons of time defending myself in comments. I know these packages exist for other distros. I know Gnome is responsible for some projects and most of the rest are sourceforge projects. I am just rather impressed by the recommendations my favorite distributor is choosing for their repositories lately.
P.S. The usual disclaimers about modding your own system apply. Do not complain if you some how break your system using these tools. Proceed with caution, sharp tools are these.