Command line – improvements

Written by Clem on Thursday, July 9th, 2009 @ 4:19 pm | Main Topics

The terminal just got better as little improvements were made in apt (/usr/local/bin/apt) and a new “highlight” command was introduced in mintsystem.

Improvements in apt:

  • apt was completely rewritten in Python
  • The search, show, content, contains, version, policy, depends, and rdepends now come with color highlighting
  • sudo is now only used when necessary, so “apt search” for instance doesn’t require a password anymore.
  • The help was improved and is now shown by simply typing “apt”.
  • A new help command shows the Debian APT equivalent of the apt command you typed.
  • And for the APT addicts among you, Super Cow Powers were added.


  • highlight is a new python script placed in /usr/local/bin and provided by the mintsystem package
  • it highlights keywords in different colors
  • for instance “lspci | highlight VGA USB Ethernet Wireless” shows the normal output of lspci but with “VGA” highlighted in red, “USB” in green, “Ethernet” in yellow, and “Wireless” in blue.

Of course there’s nothing new or revolutionary here, just a few incremental improvements. The terminal is extremely important, and although almost everything can be done graphically nowadays, it represents for many people a simpler/faster way to achieve what they want. It’s always been more precise, more exhaustive… in many respect, a better tool, than most alternative graphical user interfaces, so it’s only natural we make it as confortable as a terminal can be.

Comments and ideas are welcome. These commands can certainly be improved further. If you think something’s missing please speak up.

Note: The commands and improvements mentioned above are available in mintsystem, versions 7.4.9 or greater.

24 Responses to “Command line – improvements”

  1. ebaut says:

    congratulaions! ^_^

  2. Mortanauta says:

    Even you can say that is not new o revolutionary, every help or improvement is welcomed.

  3. exploder says:

    Clem, you never cease to amaze me! Whenever I think that things are as good as they can get, you find a way to make things even better! Thanks for the improved features!


  4. Lantesh says:

    I think these are some very nice touches you’ve implemented. I like a nice GUI as much as the next guy, but there are times when the terminal is just simply more convenient. Nice job.

  5. Martyn Ranyard says:

    Evolution over Revolution every time! Grats clem, these are neat additions, now if these commands could get pushed upstream to other distros I could get comfortable wherever 🙂

  6. Alexio says:

    It would be nice to use some ideas from the ¨INX Is Not X¨ project:

    ¨It is mainly a collection of menus, functions and scripts in Bash, intended as an introduction to the command line and console. It is hoped that it will also become a package that can be installed on a running Ubuntu system, and perhaps have a hard drive installer.¨

  7. Clem says:

    Alexio: which scripts/features of INX in particular?

  8. Lebb says:


  9. Alexio says:


    INX has a series of simple menus that enable access to tutorials (see the INX menu), various colour schemes (see the Flip colour scheme option), a digital clock that you can toggle on the screen, a simple menu to use some less known but interesting CLI-based applications (web browsers, IRC, email, editors and a calendar, music and video on the framebuffer, picture viewing, pdf reading, and many other possibilities, including a simple menu to use sshfs as a file access and sharing method).

  10. Khaled Khalil says:

    how weird! i only knew about the commands of mintsystem today.
    i wonder what makes apt more useful than the original one, sorry ones ? at least i have auto-complete for the debian apts
    for highlight, i think i will like this feature, and i hope more distros to include it to standardize its usage, credit still go to mint.
    all package commands need man files, i wish i could know more about let’s say search command.
    [quote]k@Kambar ~ $ mint-md5sum –help
    This option is not available. Please see –help for all possible usages.[/quote]uh, no comment!
    finally, that’s a dumb question, but isn’t it better to split each utility to its own package ? what’s common between apt, highlight and mint-md5sum (which is a graphical front-end) ?

  11. Dave says:


    Awesome, Clem. Awesome. You get 300 audacity points.

  12. Younger says:

    I like the Linux Mint Kde very much
    I tried about 10 linux OS, but Mint Gnome is the best. And Mint Kde makes my computer desktop looks beautiful
    thanks so much

  13. Ronald says:

    Just updated my Mint system. I love the new apt! and the highlights are awesome. Very nice improvements

  14. daedalus2134 says:

    I just started using Mint yesterday and I must say, I love it. I especially like the little things it does that Ubuntu Ultimate doesn’t (or rather, the little things it does that I don’t know how to do or didn’t even know could be done). Suspend actually working is really nice too

  15. marcus0263 says:

    Very nice. That’s what I love about Mint, is its “subtle” little niceties.

  16. Geoff crook says:

    I have tried numerous Linux distros and have settled with LinuxMint 7 (64 bit) OS…excellent distro IMHO…

  17. Dread Knight says:

    How about using packategit/kpackagekit instead of mint-installer and also replace mint-update thingy?

  18. abushcrafter says:

    So that’s what was in that update…

  19. Alexio says:

    @ Dread Knight

    The PackageKit is the default package installer in Kubuntu 9.04 and may be used for the KDE edition of Linux Mint.

    For anyone interested to use this, see the screenshots at and the download page at

  20. Randy Myers says:

    I’m trying Mint 5 over Ubuntu 8.04 LTS; however, I have used all of the proposed fixes to get Pidgin to work and they just do not get it down. Kopete just not get it done for me. Any suggestions? I believe Yahoo is really the guilty party, in that, they just refuse to support LINUX. They want paid support to talk about LINUX–no way! Thanks.

  21. UAE says:

    Plz fix Ubuntu tweak problem in Mint 7 Ican”t run it !!

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