my package of the day – mtr as a powerful and default alternative to traceroute

Know the situation? Something is wrong with the network or you are just curious and want to run a „traceroute“. At least under most Debian based systems your first session will probably look like this:

$ traceroute
command not found: traceroute

Maybe on Ubuntu you will at least be hinted to install „traceroute“ or „traceroute-nanog“… To be honest, I really hate this lack of a basic tool and cannot even remember how often I typed „aptitude install traceroute“ afterwards (and press thumbs your network is up and running).

But sometimes you just need to dig a bit deeper and this time the surprise was really big as the incredible Mnemonikk told me about an alternative that is installed by default in Ubuntu and nearly no one knows about it: „mtr„, which is an abbreviation for „my traceroute“.

Let’s just check it by calling „mtr“ (i slightly changed the output for security reasons):

                 My traceroute  [v0.72]
ccm        (          Wed Jun 20 6:51:20 2008
Keys:  Help   Display mode   Restart statistics   Order
of fields      Packets               Pings
 Host        Loss%   Snt   Last   Avg  Best  Wrst StDev
 1.   0.0%   331    0.3   0.3   0.3   0.5   0.0
 2.   0.0%   331   15.6  16.3  14.9  42.6   2.6
 3.   0.0%   330   15.0  15.5  14.4  58.5   2.7
 4.   0.0%   330   17.5  17.3  15.4  60.5   5.3
 5.   0.0%   330   15.7  24.3  15.6 212.3  30.2
 6. ae-32-52 58.8%   330   20.6  22.1  15.9  42.5   4.7
 7. ae-2.ebr 54.1%   330   20.6  25.0  19.0  45.4   4.7
 8. ae-1-100  0.0%   330   21.5  25.4  19.2  41.1   5.1
 9. ae-2.ebr  0.0%   330   27.5  34.0  26.7  73.5   5.2
10. ae-1-100  0.3%   330   28.8  33.6  26.7  72.5   6.0
11. ae-2.ebr  0.0%   330   30.8  32.9  26.7  48.5   5.0
12. ae-26-52  0.0%   330   27.6  34.8  26.9 226.8  26.8
13. 195.50.1  0.3%   330   27.7  28.4  27.2  42.5   1.7
14. gw0-0-gr  0.0%   330   27.9  28.1  27.0  40.5   1.4
15. avocado.  0.0%   330   27.8  28.0  27.2  36.2   1.0

You might notice, that the output is quite well formed („mtr“ uses curses for this). The interesting point is: Instead of running once, mtr continuously updates the output and statistics, providing you with a neat network overview. So you can use it as an enhanced ping showing all steps between you and the target.

For the sake of it: The package installed by default in Ubuntu is actually called „mtr-tiny“ as it lacks a graphical user interface. If you prefer a gui you can replace the package with „mtr“ by running „aptitude install mtr“. When running „mtr“ from the console afterwards you will be prompted with a gtk interface. In case you still want text mode, just append „–curses“ as a parameter.

Yes, that was a quick package, but if you keep it in mind, you will save time, you normalle spend for installing „traceroute“ and you’ll definitely have better results for network diagnose. Happy mtr’ing!


sherman noted, that the reason for traceroute not being installed is, that it’s just deprecated and „tracepath“ should be used instead. Thank you for the hint, though I’d prefer „mtr“ as it’s much more reliable and verbose.

my (not yet) package of the day – circular application menu

(Not yet a package, but still interesting enough to tell and hey: bleeding edge.) Circular Application Menu for Gnome is a Google Code hosted project providing a different access method to your Gnome menu. Actually all it does, is displaying the menu as circles:



But as it is different, it is somehow attractive and therefore let’s give it a try. Building „circular application menu“ is quite easy. You just have to install some libraries, subversion and essential build stuff, check out the current repository and compile it. Huh? Try this:

$ sudo aptitude install subversion build-essential \
libgnome-desktop-dev libgnome-menu-dev
$ svn checkout \ \
$ cd circular-application-menu
$ make


If no severe error occurred, you are already able to run „circular application menu“ it via ‚./circular-application-menu‘ now. Ignore error messages on the console as long as it comes up. Strange feeling to use it, isn’t it? I haven’t decided, if I really like it or not, until now.

If you like you can now install it to the system via make install, though I am fine with running it from the build directory, which I moved to „~/opt/circular/“. As it is pre-alpha-something, I just don’t want the code be mixed up with my distribution binaries.


If you want to go one step further, install the Avant Window Navigator („$ sudo aptitude install avant-window-navigator“), the OS X style application panel, which just moved from Google Code to Launchpad (points taken!) and add an icon for circular menu to it by doing a right-click=>settings=>Launchers=>Add. Now you can start all normal applications by calling Circular Menues from the AvantGo launcher. Definitely an eye catcher:

Circular Application Menu combined with Avant Window Navigator
(click to enlarge)


There are, of course, a couple of pitfalls. For instance, when running circular application menu on top of a dark or even black application, you cannot see it’s borders:


Also, you currently don’t have the possibility to customize the launcher at all.

Nevertheless: circular application menu for Gnome is a nice desktop gimmick. I am sure, it will be packaged soon (will I?) and go to the community repositories of most GNU/Linux distributions.