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Aaron’s blog on Networking, and Enterprise Technology

My System Engineer’s toolkit for Mac

As Mac’s become more and more prevalent in today’s enterprise, more and more engineers are using Mac’s as their primary workstation.  While many of us use VMWare’s Fusion to run Windows for those apps that require it, this post is to identify programs I use on an almost daily basis, running natively on Mac OSX.

1). Wireshark – Okay.  This is pretty obvious.  No engineer’s toolkit is complete without a packet analyzer.

2).  TFTP Server – If you have a large network, you probably already have a dedicated TFTP Server storing all your images.  But, in smaller networks, or if you plan doing any “remote” work, it’s handy to have something local.

3).  IP Calculator – Yes, those that have certifications, can do this in their head, or at the very least, write down a matrix that helps them remember.  For those of us that just don’t have the time, or would like “confirmation”, cheat and use your own calculator.

4).  Chicken of the VNC – Yeah, it looks like a can of tuna.  Kinda kitschig to me, but it works.  Gives you a bookmark console for different VNC Servers.  Mostly used to access X Servers on Linux/Unix, but handy if you don’t have console access to other servers.

5).  Remote Desktop Connection – Pretty self-explanatory.  Gives you remote access to any Windows 2000/2003/2008 servers or workstations.  Full-feature including printer mappings, drive mappings, display settings, etc.

6).  MIB Browser – an indispensable tool, if you do alot of SNMP gets or traps.  Use this to browse vendor’s MIB Files to identify traps, and OID’s.

7).  Screen – This isn’t really a seperate application.  It’s built-in to the shell of Mac.  But I had to list it, as it gives you serial console access into network devices such as Foundries, Junipers, and Cisco’s (probably others, but that’s what I’ve used thus far).  Just plug in a USB-to-Serial adapter that is either a Keyspan or Prolific-based.  Others probably work, but, again, this is what I’ve used.

8).  JellyfiSSH – This is my all-time favorite.  For those that love PuTTY, you will never go back.  JellyfiSSH, is just like PuTTY for Mac.  It gives you full bookmarks to all your devices.  The bonus, is that you can organize your bookmarks into groups.  For example, I have groups called “Firewalls”, “Linux”, “Routers”, etc.  I have already spent LOTS of time ‘tweaking’ my terminal in Mac.  I just tell JellyfiSSH to use my terminal settings, and viola!  It also gives you a handy way to backup/restore your bookmarks, whereas in PuTTY, you have to grab the registry keys.

9).  FileMerge – This comes with the XCode app as a seperate install from your OSX DVD.  Useful when comparing two similar files like network configs or other system files.  Those that use RANCID may already have subversion or CVS doing their compares.


10).  OmniGraffle – I completely forgot about diagramming.  You’ve gotta be able to document your work for troubleshooting, training, or general brainstorming!  OmniGraffle just rocks.  It may take some getting used to, if you are familiar with Visio.  But, after using it for awhile, I’ve found I can diagram faster.  Who knew?

That’s it for my Engineer’s toolkit.  I didn’t include your ‘basic” apps that are built-in, like traceroute, ping, netstat, etc.  I have a host of other apps that I love, but I’ll save that for another day.

Does anyone want to list their favorite Mac Apps that aren’t already listed here?  The public would love to know, as do I.

Being that this is probably my last post of the year, “Happy New Year!!”.  Be safe, and enjoy the coming of “new starts”, “freshness”, or just all-around “good times”!

4 responses to “My System Engineer’s toolkit for Mac

  1. Karsten January 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    My toolkit has some different things in it: 4)
    JollysFastVNC: http://www.jinx.de/JollysFastVNC.html When I was
    comparing it with Chicken some time ago, it was *much* faster. 5)
    CoRD: http://www.jinx.de/JollysFastVNC.html Not much development in
    the last time, but a quite good bookmark-system. 8) iTerm2:
    http://code.google.com/p/iterm2/ very active in development, this
    stoped me from switching to SecureCRT, which I was using on

    • Aaron Paxson January 1, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      Fantastic, Karsten! Great ideas! Thanks for contributing! I’ve never heard of Cord. Will definately look into it. Looks nice!

      • Josh February 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

        ZOC from EmTec is the best terminal emulator / PuTTY /
        SecureCRT replacement I’ve found on the mac. It’s not free, but
        it’s a great tool. Good bookmarking, customizable, and a solid
        terminal logging feature set which is critical.

  2. Pingback: Technology Short Take #10 - blog.scottlowe.org - The weblog of an IT pro specializing in virtualization, storage, and servers

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