cron.weekly issue #9: Ian, Apt, PostgreSQL, TLDR, Topbeat, Date, Performance and many more

cron.weekly is a newsletter about Linux, open source & webdevelopment. Want to get it in your inbox every Sunday? Subscribe below!

I respect your privacy and you won't get spam. Ever. Just a weekly-ish newsletter about Linux and open source.

Want to help support this blog? Try out Oh Dear, the best all-in-one monitoring tool for your entire website, co-founded by me (the guy that wrote this blogpost). Start with a 10-day trial, no strings attached.

We offer uptime monitoring, SSL checks, broken links checking, performance & cronjob monitoring, branded status pages & so much more. Try us out today!

Image of Mattias Geniar

Mattias Geniar, January 03, 2016

Follow me on Twitter as @mattiasgeniar

This is issue #9 for cron.weekly, the first edition of 2016. A happy new year to you all!

This edition features some more ‘light’ open source news as well, I’ll keep the die-hard Unix links for next time. 😉


Ian Murdock

It’s sad news, but news nonetheless: Ian Murdock, founder of the Debian project, passed away at age 42.

Much faster incremental apt updates

APT’s performance in applying the Pdiffs files, which are the diff format used for Packages, Sources, and other files in the archive has been slow. This blogpost explores why that is the case and what’s being done to fix it.

PostgreSQL 9.5 feature rundown

A nice overview of what’s new in the latest PostgreSQL 9.5 release.

Open source at Facebook in 2015: A year of growth

Facebook has a huge open source list. In this blogpost, they look back at their most successful projects of 2015.

Improving software RAID with a write-ahead log

Some background to how Facebook implemented a write-ahead log in its software implementation for RAID 5 and RAID 6.

Debian gets a new packaging tool: cme

Note: this isn’t a new package manager (we’ve had enough of those),  but a set of tools to help you maintain Debian package files. If you’re a package maintainer (in which case: thanks!), make sure to read through the documentation.

Tools & Projects

Snabb Switch – Skip The OS And Get 40 Million Requests Per Second In Lua

This network toolkit provides a framework for creating your own packet networking. This writeup is an interesting approach of bypassing the Operating System to get the most out of the hardware.

Supertux: 2D sidescroller game

While I’m still no gamer, this looks old-skool enough to be fun. After almost of a decade of (slow) development, this classic 2D jump’n run sidescroller game (think Super Mario etc.) reaches a stable release. Oh, and it’s completely open source, too.

Open Source Watch

This is a cool gimmick: a guide to creating your own, open source, watch. It may not have the design of the expensive watches, but it’s completely open.

Unix on the Game Boy Advance

Sort of similar to the Open Source Watch above, but this time running Unix on the Game Boy Advance. Really detailled write-up on how it got done, too.

TLDR pages

Simplified, community-driven, man pages. This project mostly highlights the lack of detailed examples in manpages but an interesting approach, nonetheless.


This newest member of the Elasticsearch family is an open source shipper for per-process CPU, memory, and disk usage metrics. It’s basically a “send top output to Elasticsearch” tool, which allows you to easily visualise the results with Kibana. The release blogpost offers some more details.


Similar to Topbeat above, Packetbeat is open source data shipper that integrates with Elasticsearch and Kibana to provide real-time analytics for web, database, and other network protocols. Consider this the “send _tcpdump _output to Elasticsearch”. The online demo shows this a lot better than I can explain in 3 sentences.


An integrated shell for working with the AWS CLI.

SQL Tabs for PostgreSQL

SQL Tabs is an open source cross platform desktop client for Postgresql with several interesting features.

BTFS (bittorrent filesystem)

With BTFS, you can mount any .torrent file or magnet link and then use it as any read-only directory in your file tree. The contents of the files will be downloaded on-demand as they are read by applications. Tools like ls, cat and cp works as expected. Applications like vlc and mplayer can also work without changes.

Guides & tutorials

Linux Date Format

A short guide on the ‘date’ tool in Linux, how to manipulate its output and jump back/forth in time. A useful guide if you ever need to use time- or date-based variables in your shellscripts.

RedHat Performance Tuning

For users of the RHEL or CentOS distributions, this guide offers practical pointers and tools to tune your system for optimal performance. If you’re left wanting for more, have a look at the official RHEL7 performance tuning guide by Red Hat.

Varnish Foo – Working With HTTP caching

If you’ve ever wanted to get started with Varnish, the caching and load balancing tool, this guide is for you. It offers practical tips and tricks on how to debug Varnish, see the cache rates and optimise the configuration file. Even for non-Varnish users it’s a nice reminder on how the HTTP protocol works.

The Linux Storage Stack Diagram

A very nice diagram on how storage works within the Linux kernel.

A git-push workflow for deploying code

This guide shows the implementation details of using ‘git push’ as a deployment mechanism for publishing code to a server.

Linux and Unix SysAdmins New Year’s Resolutions (2016)

If you’re a Linux user, a Google search will undoubtedly have lead you to nixCraft at some point. These New Year’s Resolutions are a recommendation, I’ll do my best to follow them as well.

Send a mail when someone runs a sudo command

This example shows a sudo configuration that will alert you by mail whenever someone enters a sudo command. The example is a good overview of the different actions and logging you can enable in sudo.

Want to subscribe to the cron.weekly newsletter?

I write a weekly-ish newsletter on Linux, open source & webdevelopment called cron.weekly.

It features the latest news, guides & tutorials and new open source projects. You can sign up via email below.

No spam. Just some good, practical Linux & open source content.