Posts Tagged ‘scripting’

Mail send from command line on Linux and *BSD servers – useful for scripting

Monday, September 10th, 2018


Historically Email sending has been very different from what most people use it in the Office, there was no heavy Email clients such as Outlook Express no MX Exchange, no e-mail client capabilities for Calendar and Meetings schedule as it is in most of the modern corporate offices that depend on products such as Office 365 (I would call it a connectedHell 365 days a year !).

There was no free webmail and pop3 / imap providers such as,,,, RediffMail, the innumerous lists goes and on.
Nope back in the day emails were doing what they were originally supposed to like the post services in real life simply send and receive messages.

For those who remember that charming times, people used to be using BBS-es (which were basicly a shared set-up home system as a server) or some of the few University Internal Email student accounts or by crazy sysadmins who received their notification and warnings logs about daemon (services) messages via local DMZ-ed network email servers and it was common to read the email directly with mail (mailx) text command or custom written scripts … It was not uncommon also that mailx was used heavily to send notification messages on triggered events from logs. Oh life was simple and clear back then, and even though today the email could be used in a similar fashion by hard-core old school sysadmins and Dev Ops / simple shell scriptings tasks or report cron jobs such usage is already in the deep history.

The number of ways one could send email in text format directly from the GNU / Linux / *BSD server to another remote mail MTA node (assuming it had properly configured Relay server be it Exim or Postifix) were plenty.

In this article I will try to rewind back some of the UNIX history by pinpointing a few of the most common ways, one used to send quick emails directly from a remote server connection terminal or lets say a cheap VPS few cents server, through something like (SSH or Telnet) etc.

1. Using the mail command client (part of bsd-mailx on Debian).

In my previous article Linux: "bash mail command not found" error fix
I ended the article with a short explanation on how this is done but I will repeat myself one more time here for the sake of clearness of this article.

root@linux:~# echo "Your Sample Message Body" | mail -s "Whatever … Message Subject"

The mail command will connect to local server TCP PORT 25 on local configured MTA and send via it. If the local MTA is misconfigured or it doesn't have a proper MX / PTR DNS records etc. or not configure as a relay SMTP remote mail will not get delivered. Sent Email should be properly delivered at remote recipient address.

How to send HTML formatted emails using mailx command on Linux console / terminal shell using remote server through SSH ?

Connect to remote SSH server (VPS), dedicated server, home Linux router etc. and run:


root@linux:~# mailx -a 'Content-Type: text/html'
      -s "This is advanced mailx indeed!" < email_content.html


email_content.html should be properly formatted (at best w3c standard compliant) HTML.

Here is an example email_content.html (skeleton file)


    Subject: This is an HTML message
    Content-Type: text/html; charset="utf8"

    <div style="
        #abcdef; width: 300px;
        height: 300px;
Whatever text mixed with valid email HTML tags here.

Above command sends to two email addresses however if you have a text formatted list of recipients you can easily use that file with a bash shell script for loop and send to multiple addresses red from lets say email_addresses_list.txt .

To further advance the one liner you can also want to provide an email attachment, lets say the file email_archive.rar by using the -A email_archive.rar argument.


root@linux:~# mailx -a 'Content-Type: text/html'
      -s "This is advanced mailx indeed!" -A ~/email_archive.rar < email_content.html


For those familiar with Dan Bernstein's Qmail MTA (which even though a bit obsolete is still a Security and Stability Beast across email servers) – mailx command had to be substituted with a custom qmail one in order to be capable to send via qmail MTA daemon.

2. Using sendmail command to send email

Do you remember that heavy hard to configure MTA monster sendmail ? It was and until this very day is the default Mail Transport Agent for Slackware Linux.

Here is how we were supposed to send mail with it:


[root@sendmail-host ~]# vim email_content_to_be_delivered.txt


Content of file should be something like:

Subject: This Email is sent from UNIX Terminal Email

Hi this Email was typed in a file and send via sendmail console email client
(part of the sendmail mail server)

It is really fun to go back in the pre-history of Mail Content creation 🙂


[root@sendmail-host ~]# sendmail -v  < /tmp/email_content_to_be_delivered.txt


-v argument provided, will make the communication between the mail server and your mail transfer agent visible.

3. Using ssmtp command to send mail

ssmtp MTA and its included shell command was used historically as it was pretty straight forward you just launch it on the command line type on one line all your email and subject and ship it (by pressing the CTRL + D key combination).

To give it a try you can do:


root@linux:~# apt-get install ssmtp
Reading package lists… Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information… Done
The following additional packages will be installed:
The following packages will be REMOVED:
  exim4-base exim4-config exim4-daemon-heavy
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  libgnutls-openssl27 ssmtp
0 upgraded, 2 newly installed, 3 to remove and 1 not upgraded.
Need to get 239 kB of archives.
After this operation, 3,697 kB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] Y
Get:1 stretch/main amd64 ssmtp amd64 2.64-8+b2 [54.2 kB]
Get:2 stretch/main amd64 libgnutls-openssl27 amd64 3.5.8-5+deb9u3 [184 kB]
Fetched 239 kB in 2s (88.5 kB/s)         
Preconfiguring packages …
dpkg: exim4-daemon-heavy: dependency problems, but removing anyway as you requested:
 mailutils depends on default-mta | mail-transport-agent; however:
  Package default-mta is not installed.
  Package mail-transport-agent is not installed.
  Package exim4-daemon-heavy which provides mail-transport-agent is to be removed.


(Reading database … 169307 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing exim4-daemon-heavy (4.89-2+deb9u3) …
dpkg: exim4-config: dependency problems, but removing anyway as you requested:
 exim4-base depends on exim4-config (>= 4.82) | exim4-config-2; however:
  Package exim4-config is to be removed.
  Package exim4-config-2 is not installed.
  Package exim4-config which provides exim4-config-2 is to be removed.
 exim4-base depends on exim4-config (>= 4.82) | exim4-config-2; however:
  Package exim4-config is to be removed.
  Package exim4-config-2 is not installed.
  Package exim4-config which provides exim4-config-2 is to be removed.

Removing exim4-config (4.89-2+deb9u3) …
Selecting previously unselected package ssmtp.
(Reading database … 169247 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/ssmtp_2.64-8+b2_amd64.deb …
Unpacking ssmtp (2.64-8+b2) …
(Reading database … 169268 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing exim4-base (4.89-2+deb9u3) …
Selecting previously unselected package libgnutls-openssl27:amd64.
(Reading database … 169195 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack …/libgnutls-openssl27_3.5.8-5+deb9u3_amd64.deb …
Unpacking libgnutls-openssl27:amd64 (3.5.8-5+deb9u3) …
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.24-11+deb9u3) …
Setting up libgnutls-openssl27:amd64 (3.5.8-5+deb9u3) …
Setting up ssmtp (2.64-8+b2) …
Processing triggers for man-db ( …
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.24-11+deb9u3) …


As you see from above output local default Debian Linux Exim is removed …

Lets send a simple test email …


hipo@linux:~# ssmtp
Subject: Simply Test SSMTP Email
This Email was send just as a test using SSMTP obscure client
via SMTP server.


What is notable about ssmtp is that even though so obsolete today it supports of STARTTLS (email communication encryption) that is done via its config file




4. Send Email from terminal using Mutt client

Mutt was and still is one of the swiff army of most used console text email clients along with Alpine and Fetchmail to know more about it read here

Mutt supports reading / sending mail from multiple mailboxes and capable of reading IMAP and POP3 mail fetch protocols and was a serious step forward over mailx. Its syntax pretty much resembles mailx cmds.


root@linux:~# mutt -s "Test Email" < /dev/null


Send email including attachment a 15 megabytes MySQL backup of Squirrel Webmail


root@linux:~# mutt  -s "This is last backup small sized database" -a /home/backups/backup_db.sql < /dev/null


5. Using simple telnet to test and send email (verify existence of email on remote SMTP)

As a Mail Server SysAdmin this is one of my best ways to test whether I had a server properly configured and even sometimes for the sake of fun I used it as a hack to send my mail 🙂
telnet is and will always be a great tool for doing SMTP issues troubleshooting.

It is very useful to test whether a remote SMTP TCP port 25 is opened or a local / remote server firewall prevents connections to MTA.

Below is an example connect and send example using telnet to my local SMTP on (QMail powered (R) 🙂 )



root@pcfreak:~# telnet localhost 25
Connected to localhost.
Escape character is '^]'.
220 This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET ESMTP
250 This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET
250 ok
250 ok
354 go ahead
Subject: This is a test subject


This is just a test mail send through telnet
250 ok 1536440787 qp 28058


Note that the returned messages are native to qmail, a postfix would return a slightly different content, here is another test example to remote SMTP running sendmail or postfix.


root@pcfreak:~# telnet 25
Connected to localhost.localdomain (
Escape character is '^]'.
220 ESMTP Sendmail 8.13.8/8.13.8; Tue, 22 Oct 2013 05:05:59 -0400
250 Hello [], pleased to meet you
mail from:
250 2.1.0… Sender ok
rcpt to:
250 2.1.5… Recipient ok
354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself
This is test email only


250 2.0.0 r9M95xgc014513 Message accepted for delivery
221 2.0.0 closing connection
Connection closed by foreign host.

It is handy if you want to know whether remote MTA server has a certain Emailbox existing or not with telnet by simply trying to send to a certian email and checking the Email server returned output (note that the message returned depends on the remote MTA version and many qmails are configured to not give information on the initial SMTP handshake but returns instead a MAILER DAEMON failure error sent back to your sender address. Some MX servrers are still vulnerable to this attack yet, historically Below attack screenshot is made at the times before fixed the brute force email issue.


6. Using simple netcat TCP/IP Swiss Army Knife to test and send email in console

Other tool besides telnet of testing remote / local SMTP is netcat tool (for reading and writting data across TCP and UDP connections).

The way to do it is analogous but since netcat is not present on most Linux OSes by default you need to install it through the package manager first be it apt or yum etc.

# apt-get –yes install netcat


First lets create a new file test_email_content.txt using bash's echo cmd.


# echo 'EHLO hostname
From: A tester <>
To:   <>
Date: date
Subject: A test message from test hostname


Delete me, please
' >>test_email_content.txt


# netcat -C localhost 25 < test_email_content.txt


220 This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET ESMTP
250-This is Mail Pc-Freak.NET
250-SIZE 80000000
250 ok
250 ok
354 go ahead
451 See

Because of its simplicity and the fact it has a bit more capabilities in reading / writing data over network it was no surprise it was among the favorite tools not only of crackers and penetration testers but also a precious debug tool for the avarage sysadmin. netcat's advantage over telnet is you can push-pull over the remote SMTP port (25) a non-interactive input.

7. Using openssl to connect and send email via encrypted channel


root@linux:~# openssl s_client -connect -crlf -ign_eof

               Certificate negotiation output from openssl command goes here

        220 ESMTP j92sm925556edd.81 – gsmtp
            EHLO localhost at your service, []
        250-SIZE 35882577
        250 SMTPUTF8
            AUTH PLAIN *passwordhash*
        235 2.7.0 Accepted
            MAIL FROM: <>
        250 2.1.0 OK j92sm925556edd.81 – gsmtp
            rcpt to: <>
        250 2.1.5 OK j92sm925556edd.81 – gsmtp
        354  Go ahead j92sm925556edd.81 – gsmtp
            Subject: This is openssl mailing

            Hello nice user
        250 2.0.0 OK 1339757532 m46sm11546481eeh.9
        221 2.0.0 closing connection m46sm11546481eeh.9

8. Using CURL (URL transfer) tool to send SSL / TLS secured crypted channel emails via Gmail / Yahoo servers and MailGun Mail send API service

Using curl webpage downloading advanced tool for managing email send might be  a shocking news to many as it is idea is to just transfer data from a server.
curl is mostly used in conjunction with PHP website scripts for the reason it has a Native PHP implementation and many PHP based websites widely use it for download / upload of user data.
Interestingly besides support for HTTP and FTP it has support for POP3 and SMTP email protocols as well
If you don't have it installed on your server and you want to give it a try, install it first with apt:

root@linux:~# apt-get install curl


To learn more about curl capabilities make sure you check cURL –manual arg.

root@linux:~# curl –manual


a) Sending Emails via Gmail and other Mail Public services

Curl is capable to send emails from terminal using Gmail and Yahoo Mail services, if you want to give that a try.


Go to URL and login from the web interface choose Sign in And Security choose Allow less Secure Apps to be -> ON and turn on access for less secure apps in Gmail. Though I have not tested it myself so far with Yahoo! Mail, I suppose it should have a similar security settings somewhere.

Here is how to use curl to send email via Gmail.




root@linux:~# curl –url 'smtps://' –ssl-reqd \
  –mail-from '' –mail-rcpt '' \
  –upload-file mail.txt –user ''

b) Sending Emails using (Transactional Email Service API for developers)

To use Mailgun to script sending automated emails go to and create account and generate new API key.

Then use curl in a similar way like below example:


curl -sv –user 'api:key-7e55d003b…f79accd31a' \… \
    -F from='Excited User <>' \
    -F to=sandbox21a78f824… \
    -F \
    -F subject='Hello' \
    -F text='Testing Mailgun service!' \
   –form-string html='<h1>EDMdesigner Blog</h1><br /><cite>This tutorial helps me understand email sending from Linux console</cite>' \
    -F attachment=@logo_picture.jpg


The -F option that is heavy present in above command lets curl (Emulate a form filled in button in which user has pressed the submit button).
For more info of the options check out man curl.


9. Using swaks command to send emails from


root@linux:~# apt-cache show swaks|grep "Description" -B 10
Package: swaks
Version: 20170101.0-1
Installed-Size: 221
Maintainer: Andreas Metzler <>
Architecture: all
Depends: perl
Recommends: libnet-dns-perl, libnet-ssleay-perl
Suggests: perl-doc, libauthen-sasl-perl, libauthen-ntlm-perl
Description-en: SMTP command-line test tool
 swaks (Swiss Army Knife SMTP) is a command-line tool written in Perl
 for testing SMTP setups; it supports STARTTLS and SMTP AUTH (PLAIN,
 LOGIN, CRAM-MD5, SPA, and DIGEST-MD5). swaks allows one to stop the
 SMTP dialog at any stage, e.g to check RCPT TO: without actually
 sending a mail.
 If you are spending too much time iterating "telnet foo.example 25"
 swaks is for you.
Description-md5: f44c6c864f0f0cb3896aa932ce2bdaa8




root@linux:~# apt-get instal –yes swaks

root@linux:~# swaks –to -s
      -tls -au <user-account> -ap <account-password>


The -tls argument (in order to use gmail encrypted TLS channel on port 587)

If you want to hide the password not to provide the password from command line so (in order not to log it to user history) add the -a options.

10. Using qmail-inject on Qmail mail servers to send simple emails

Create new file with content like:

root@qmail:~# vim email_file_content.text
Subject: Test

This is a test message.

root@qmail:~# cat email_file_content.text | /var/qmail/bin/qmail-inject

qmail-inject is part of ordinary qmail installation so it is very simple it even doesn't return error codes it just ships what ever given as content to remote MTA.
If the linux host where you invoke it has a properly configured qmail installation the email will get immediately delivered. The advantage of qmail-inject over the other ones is it is really lightweight and will deliver the simple message more quickly than the the prior heavy tools but again it is more a Mail Delivery Agent (MDA) for quick debugging, if MTA is not working, than for daily email writting.

It is very useful to simply test whether email send works properly without sending any email content by (I used qmail-inject to test local email delivery works like so).

root@linux:~# echo 'To:' | /var/qmail/bin/qmail-inject


11. Debugging why Email send with text tool is not being send properly to remote recipient

If you use some of the above described methods and email is not delivered to remote recipient email addresses check /var/log/mail.log (for a general email log and postfix MTAs – the log is present on many of the Linux distributions) and /var/log/messages or /var/log/qmal (on Qmail installations) /var/log/exim4 (on servers running Exim as MTA).


The ways to send email via Linux terminal are properly innumerous as there are plenty of scripted tools in various programming languages, I am sure in this article,  also missing a lot of pre-bundled installable distro packages. If you know other interesting ways / tools to send via terminal I would like to hear it.

Hope you enjoyed, happy mailing !

Check Windows Operating System install date, Full list of installed and uninstalled programs from command line / Check how old is your Windows installation?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Sometimes when you have some inherited Windows / Linux OS servers or Desktops, it is useful to be aware what is the Operating System install date. Usually the install date of the OS is closely to the date of purchase of the system this is especially true for Windows but not necessery true for Liunx based installs.

Knowing the install date is useful especially if you're not sure how outdated is a certain operating system. Knowing how long ago a current installation was performed could give you some hints on whether to create a re-install plans in order to keep system security up2date and could give you an idea whether the system is prone to some common errors of the time of installation or security flaws.


1. Check out how old is Windows install?

Finding out the age of WIndows installation can be performed across almost all NT 4.0 based Windowses and onwards, getting Winblows install date is obtained same way on both Windows XP / Vista/  7  and 8.

Besides many useful things such as detailed information about the configuration of your PC / notebook systeminfo could also provide you with install date, to do so just run from command line (cmd.exe).

C:\Users\hipo> systeminfo | find /i "install date"
Original Install Date:     09/18/13, 15:23:18 PM


If you need to get the initial Windows system install date however it might be much better to use WMIC command to get the info:



C:\Users\hipo>WMIC OS GET installdate

The only downside of using WMIC as you can see is it provides the Windows OS install date in a raw unparsed format, but for scripters that's great.

2. Check WIndows Installed and Uinstalled software and uptime from command line

One common other thing next to Windows install date is what is the Windows uptime, the easiest way to get that is to run Task Manager in command line run taskmgr


For those who want to get the uptime from windows command line for scripting purposes, this can be done again with systeminfo cmd, i.e.:


C:\> systeminfo | find "System Boot Time:"
System Boot Time:          03/29/16, 08:48:59 AM


Other helpful Windows command liners you might want to find out about is getting all the Uninstalled and Installed programs from command line this again is done with WMIC


C:\> wmic /OUTPUT:my_software.txt product get name



Alternative way to get a full list of installed software on Windows OS is to use Microsoft/SysInternals psinfo command:


C:\> psinfo -s > software.txt
C:\> psinfo -s -c > software.csv

If you need to get a complete list of Uinstalled Software using command line (e.g. for batch scripting) purposes, you can query that from Windows registry, like so:


C:\>reg query HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall

Command Output will be something like on below shot:


Well that's all folks 🙂


How to check Apache Webserver and MySQL server uptime – Check uptime of a running daemon with PS (process) command

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015


Something very useful that most Apache LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) admins should know is how to check Apache Webserver uptime and MySQL server running (uptime).
Checking Apache / MySQL uptime is primary useful for scripting purposes – creating auto Apache / MySQL service restart scripts, or just as a quick console way to check what is the status and uptime of Webserver / SQL.

My experience as a sysadmin shows that lack of Periodic Apache and MySQL restart every week or every month often creates sys-admin a lot of a headaches cause (Apache / NGINX / SQL  server) starts eating too much memory or under some circumstances leads to service or system crashes. Periodic system main services restart is especially helpful in case if Website's backend programming code is writetn in a bad and buggy uneffient way by unprofessional (novice) programmers.
While I was still working as Senior SysAdmin in Design.BG, I've encountered many such Crappy Web applications developed by dozen of different programmers (because company's programmers changed too frequently and many of the hired Web Developers ,were still learning to program, I guess same is true also for other Start-UP Web / IT Company where crappy programming code is developed you will certainly need to keep an eye on Apache / MYSQL uptime.  If that's the case below 2 quick one liners with PS command will help you keep an eye on Apache / MYSQL uptime


ps -eo "%U %c %t"| grep apache2 | grep -v grep|grep root
root     apache2            02:30:05

Note that above example is Debian specific on RPM based distributions you will have to grep for httpd instead of apache2

ps -eo "%U %c %t"| grep http| grep -v grep|grep root

root     apache2            10:30:05

To check MySQL uptine:

ps -eo "%U %c %t"| grep mysqld
root     mysqld_safe        20:42:53
mysql    mysqld             20:42:53

Though example is for mysql and Apache you can easily use ps cmd in same way to check any other Linux service uptime such as Java / Qmail / PostgreSQL / Postfix etc.

ps -eo "%U %c %t"|grep qmail
qmails   qmail-send      19-01:10:48
qmaill   multilog        19-01:10:48
qmaill   multilog        19-01:10:48
qmaill   multilog        19-01:10:48
root     qmail-lspawn    19-01:10:48
qmailr   qmail-rspawn    19-01:10:48
qmailq   qmail-clean     19-01:10:48
qmails   qmail-todo      19-01:10:48
qmailq   qmail-clean     19-01:10:48
qmaill   multilog        40-18:02:53


 ps -eo "%U %c %t"|grep -i nginx|grep -v root|uniq
nobody   nginx           55-01:22:44


ps -eo "%U %c %t"|grep -i java|grep -v root |uniq
hipo   java            27-22:02:07


How much memory users uses in GNU / Linux and FreeBSD – Commands and Scripts to find user memory usage on Linux

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015




If you have to administrate a heterogenous network with Linux and FreeBSD or other UNIX like OSes you should sooner or later need for scripting purposes to have a way to list how much memory separate users take up on your system. Listing memory usage per user is very helpful for admins who manager free-shells or for companies where you have developers, developing software directly on the server via ssh. Being able to check which process eats up most memory is essential for every UNIX / Linux sysadmin, because often we as admins setup (daemons) on servers and we forgot about their existence, just to remember they exist 2 years later and see the server is crashing because of memory exhaustion. Tracking server bottlenecks where RAM memory and Swapping is the bottleneck is among the main swiss amry knives of admins. Checking which user occupies all server memory is among the routine tasks we're forced to do as admins, but because nowdays servers have a lot of memory and we put on servers often much more memory than ever will be used many admins forget to routinely track users / daemons memory consumption or even many probably doesn't know how.  Probably all are aware of the easiest wy to get list of all users memory in console non interactively with free command, e.g.:

free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:         32236      26226       6010          0        983       8430
-/+ buffers/cache:      16812      15424
Swap:        62959        234      62725


but unfortunately free command only shows overall situation with memory and doesn't divide memory usage by user

Thus probably to track memory users the only known way for most pepole is to (interactively) use good old top command or if you like modern (colorful) visualization with htop:

debian:~# top



Once top runs interactive press 'm' to get ordered list of processes which occupy most system memory on Linux server.Top process use status statistics will refresh by default every '3.0' seconds to change that behavior to '1' second press  s and type '1.0'. To get Sort by Memory Use in htop also press 'm'

[root@mail-server ~]# htop



However if you need to be involved in scripting and setting as a cron job tasks to be performed in case if high memroy consumption by a service you will need to use few lines of code. Below are few examples on how Linux user memory usage can be shown with ps cmd.

Probably the most universal way to see memory usage by users on Debian / Ubuntu / CentOS / RHEL and BSDs (FreeBSD / NetBSD) is with below one liner:


server:~# ps hax -o rss,user | awk '{a[$2]+=$1;}END{for(i in a)print i” “int(a[i]/1024+0.5);}' | sort -rnk2
daemon 0
debian-tor 63
dnscache 1
dnslog 0
hipo 21
messagebus 1
mysql 268
ntp 2
privoxy 1
proftpd 1
qmaill 0
qmailq 0
qmailr 0
qmails 0
qscand 291
root 94
shellinabox 1
snmp 1
statd 1
vpopmail 80
www-data 6765


Output is in MBs

Below is output from machine where this blog is running, the system runs ( Apache + PHP + MySQL Webserver + Qmail Mail server and Tor) on Debian GNU / Linux.

 To get more human readable (but obscure to type – useful for scripting) output list of which user takes how much memory use on deb / rpm etc. based Linux :


server:~# echo "USER                 RSS      PROCS" ; echo "——————– ——– —–" ; \
ps hax -o rss,user | awk '{rss[$2]+=$1;procs[$2]+=1;}END{for(user in rss) printf “%-20s %8.0f %5.0f\n”, user, rss[user]/1024, procs[user];}' | sort -rnk2


USER                 RSS      PROCS
——————– ——– —–
www-data                 6918   100
qscand                    291     2
mysql                     273     1
root                       95   120
vpopmail                   81     4
debian-tor                 63     1
hipo                       21    15
ntp                         2     1
statd                       1     1
snmp                        1     1
shellinabox                 1     2
proftpd                     1     1
privoxy                     1     1
messagebus                  1     1
dnscache                    1     1
qmails                      0     2
qmailr                      0     1
qmailq                      0     2
qmaill                      0     4
dnslog                      0     1
daemon                      0     2


It is possible to get the list of memory usage listed in percentage proportion, with a tiny for bash loop and some awk + process list command

TOTAL=$(free | awk '/Mem:/ { print $2 }')
for USER in $(ps haux | awk '{print $1}' | sort -u)
    ps hux -U $USER | awk -v user=$USER -v total=$TOTAL '{ sum += $6 } END { printf "%s %.2f\n", user, sum / total * 100; }'

107 1.34
115 2.10
119 1.34
daemon 1.32
dnscache 1.34
dnslog 1.32
hipo 1.59
mysql 4.79
ntp 1.34
privoxy 1.33
proftpd 1.32
qmaill 1.33
qmailq 1.33
qmailr 1.32
qmails 1.33
qscand 4.98
root 1.33
snmp 1.33
statd 1.33
vpopmail 2.35
www-data 86.48

Also a raw script which can be easily extended to give you some custom information on memory use by user is here.
You can also want to debug further how much memory a certain users (lets say user mysql and my username hipo) is allocating, this can easily be achieved ps like so:

root@pcfreak:~# ps -o size,pid,user,command -u mysql –sort -size
796924 14857 mysql   /usr/sbin/mysqld –basedir=/usr –datadir=/var/lib/mysql –plugin-dir=/usr/lib/mysql/plugin –user=mysql –pid-file=/var/run/mysqld/ –socket=/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock –port=3306


root@pcfreak~# ps -o size,pid,user,command -u hipo –sort -size|less
13408 19063 hipo     irssi
 3168 19020 hipo     SCREEN
 2940  2490 hipo     -bash
 1844 19021 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 19028 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 19035 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 19042 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 19491 hipo     /bin/bash
 1844 22952 hipo     /bin/bash
  744  2487 hipo     sshd: hipo@pts/0
  744  2516 hipo     sshd: hipo@notty
  524  2519 hipo     screen -r
  412  2518 hipo     /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server

You see from below output user running with www-data (this is Apache Webserver user in Debian) is eating 86.48% of overall system memory and MySQL server user is using only 4.79% of available memory

Output is shown in Megabytes per username memory usage, and user memory usage is ordered (stepping-down / descentive) from top to bottom

Getting more thoroughful and easier to read reporting without beeing a 31337 bash coder you can install and use on Linux smem – memory reporting tool .

SMEM can provide you with following memory info:

  • system overview listing
  • listings by process, mapping, user
  • filtering by process, mapping, or user
  • configurable columns from multiple data sources
  • configurable output units and percentages
  • configurable headers and totals
  • reading live data from /proc
  • reading data snapshots from directory mirrors or compressed tarballs
  • lightweight capture tool for embedded systems
  • built-in chart generation

Installing smem on Debian 6 / 7 / Ubuntu 14.04 / Turnkey Linux etc. servers is done with standard:


debian:~# apt-get install –yes smem



To install smem on CentOS 6 / 7:


[root@centos ~ ]# yum -y install smem

On Slackware and other Linux-es where smem is not available as a package you can install it easily from binary archive with:


cd /tmp/
tar xvf smem-1.3.tar.gz
sudo cp /tmp/smem-1.3/smem /usr/local/bin/
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/smem


Two most common smem uses are:


root@mail:~# smem -u
User     Count     Swap      USS      PSS      RSS
dnslog       1       44       48       54      148
qmaill       4      232      124      145      464
hipo        11    13552     8596     9171    13160
qscand       2     4500   295336   295602   297508
root       188   217312  4521080  4568699  7712776


Below command shows (-u – Report memory usage by user, -t – show totals, -k – show unix suffixes)

root@mail:~# smem -u -t -k
User     Count     Swap      USS      PSS      RSS
dnslog       1    44.0K    48.0K    54.0K   148.0K
qmaill       4   232.0K   124.0K   145.0K   464.0K
hipo        11    13.2M     8.4M     9.0M    12.9M
qscand       2     4.4M   288.4M   288.7M   290.5M
root       188   212.2M     4.3G     4.4G     7.4G
           206   230.1M     4.6G     4.6G     7.7G

To get users memory use by percentage with smem:

root@mail:~# smem -u -p
User     Count     Swap      USS      PSS      RSS
dnslog       1    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%
qmaill       4    0.00%    0.00%    0.00%    0.01%
hipo        11    0.17%    0.11%    0.11%    0.16%
qscand       2    0.05%    3.63%    3.63%    3.66%
root       194    2.64%   56.18%   56.77%   95.56%

It is also useful sometimes when you want to debug system overloads caused by external hardware drivers loaded into kernel causing issues to get list of system wide memory use sorted by user


 root@mail:~# smem -w -p
Area                           Used      Cache   Noncache
firmware/hardware             0.00%      0.00%      0.00%
kernel image                  0.00%      0.00%      0.00%
kernel dynamic memory        38.30%     36.01%      2.28%
userspace memory             60.50%      0.98%     59.53%
free memory                   1.20%      1.20%      0.00%

smem is very nice as if you're running it on a Desktop Linux system with Xserver installed you can see also graphical output of memory use by application:

root@desktop-pc:~# smem –bar pid -c "pss uss"


smem can even generate graphical pie charts to visualize better memory use

root@desktop-pc:~# smem -P '^k' –pie=name



If there is a high percentage shown in firmware/hardware this means some buggy module is loaded in kernel eating up memory, to fix it debug further and remove the problematic module.
userspace memory actually shows the percantage of memory out of all server available RAM that is being consumed by applications (non kernel and other system processes which make the system move). You see in above example the kernel itself is consuming about 40% of system overall available memory. 

We all know the SWAP field stands for hard disk drive used as a memory when system is out, but there are 3 fields which smem will report which will be probably unclear for most here is also explanation on what USS / PSS / RSS means?

RSS is the Resident Set Size and is used to show how much memory is allocated to that process and is in RAM. It does not include memory that is swapped out. It does include memory from shared libraries as long as the pages from those libraries are actually in memory. It does include all stack and heap memory too.

There is also PSS (proportional set size). This is a newer measure which tracks the shared memory as a proportion used by the current process. So if there were two processes using the same shared library from before.

USS stands for Unique set size, USS is just the unshared page count, i.e. memory returned when process is killed 

PSS = Proportional set size, (PSS),  is a more meaningful representation of the amount of memory used by libraries and applications in a virtual memory system.  
Because large portions of physical memory are typically shared among multiple applications, the standard measure of memory usage known as resident set size (RSS) will significantly overestimate memory usage. The parameter PSS instead measures each application’s “fair share” of each shared area to give a realistic measure. For most admins checking out the output from RSS (output) should be enough, it will indicate which user and therefore which daemon is eating up all your memory and will help you to catch problematic services which are cause your server to run out of RAM and start swapping to disk.

How to add cron jobs from command line or bash scripts / Add crontab jobs in a script

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

I’m currently writting a script which is supposed to be adding new crontab jobs and do a bunch of other mambo jambo.

By so far I’ve been aware of only one way to add a cronjob non-interactively like so:

                 linux:~# echo '*/5 * * * * /root/' | crontab -

Though using the | crontab – would work it has one major pitfall, I did completely forgot | crontab – OVERWRITES CURRENT CRONTAB! with the crontab passed by with the echo command.
One must be extremely careful if he decides to use the above example as you might loose your crontab definitions permanently!

Thanksfully it seems there is another way to add crontabs non interactively via a script, as I couldn’t find any good blog which explained something different from the classical example with pipe to crontab –, I dropped by in the good old to consult the bash gurus there 😉

So I entered irc and asked the question how can I add a crontab via bash shell script without overwritting my old existing crontab definitions less than a minute later one guy with a nickname geirha was kind enough to explain me how to get around the annoying overwridding.

The solution to the ovewrite was expected, first you use crontab to dump current crontab lines to a file and then you append the new cron job as a new record in the file and finally you ask the crontab program to read and insert the crontab definitions from the newly created files.
So here is the exact code one could run inside a script to include new crontab jobs, next to the already present ones:

linux:~# crontab -l > file; echo '*/5 * * * * /root/ >/dev/null 2>&1' >> file; crontab file

The above definition as you could read would make the new record of */5 * * * * /root/ >/dev/null be added next to the existing crontab scheduled jobs.

Now I’ll continue with my scripting, in the mean time I hope this will be of use to someone out there 😉