utility software

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utility software

(Or utility program, tool) Any software that performs some specific task that is secondary to the main purpose of using the computer (the latter would be called application programs) but is not essential to the operation of the computer (system software).

Many utilities could be considered as part of the system software, which can in turn be considered part of the operating system.

The following are some broad categories of utility software, specific types and examples.

* Disks

disk formatter: FDISK, format


disk checker: fsck

disk cleaner

system profiler


file system compression

* Files and directories

list directory: ls, dir

copy, move, remove: cp, mv, rm, xcopy

archive: tar

compression: zip

format conversion: atob

comparison: diff

sort: sort

* Security

authentication: login

antivirus software: avast, Norton Antivirus

firewall: Zone Alarm, Windows firewall

encryption: gpg)

* Editors for general-purpose formats (as opposed to specific formats like a word processing document)

text editor: Emacs

binary editor, hex editor

* Communications

mail transfer agent: sendmail

e-mail notification: biff

file transfer: ftp, rcp, Firefox

file synchronisation: unison, briefcase

chat: Gaim, cu

directory services: bind, nslookup, whois

network diagnosis: ping, traceroute

remote access: rlogin, ssh

* Software development

compiler: gcc

build: make, ant


preprocessor: cpp

debugger: adb, gdb

installation: apt-get, msiexec, patch

compiler compiler: yacc

* Hardware

device configuration: PCU, devman, stty
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

utility program

Software that plays a supporting role for users and developers. Basic utility programs include file/folder management (copy, move, etc.), file search and compare, disk format and partition, as well as diagnostic routines to check performance and the health of the hardware. See tool.

Custom Utilities
Utilities that support a development environment can perform myriad tasks. For example, at the end of each update cycle of this encyclopedia, custom-programmed utilities are run that make sure all links to pictures and other definitions are valid.

Mac Utilities
These are some of the utility programs that came with a Mac Pro in 2014. For example, Grab is a screen capture tool; Migration Assistant copies files to a different computer, and Activity Monitor.app is a task manager.
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