The @Apture ElephantsOver the past month or so I’ve fallen in love with an incredibly simple command line tool: GNU/Parallel. Parallel has more or less replaced my use of xargs when piping data around on the many machines that I use. Unlike xargs however, Parallel lets me make use of the many cores that I have access to, either on my laptop or the many quad and octocore machines we have lying around the Apture office.

Using Parallel is incredibly easy, in fact the docs enumerate just about every possible incantation of Parallel you might want to use, but starting simple you can just pipe stuff to it:

cat listofthings.txt | parallel --max-procs=8 --group 'echo "Thing: {}"'

The command above will run at most eight concurrent processes and group the output of each of the processes when the entire thing completes, simple and in this case not too much different than running with xargs

With some simple Python scripting, Parallel becomes infinitely more useful:

python | parallel --max-procs=8 --group 'wget "{}" -O - | python'

There’s not really a whole lot say about GNU/Parallel other than you should use it. I find myself increasingly impatient when a single process takes longer than a couple minutes to complete, so I’ve been using GNU/Parallel in more and more different ways across almost all the machines that I work on to make things faster and faster. So much so that I’ve started to pine for a quad-core notebook instead of this weak dual core Thinkpad of mine :)

GNU/Parallel Demo