14 unexpected ways to use the Linux terminal

The Linux Terminal is a versatile tool that can do anything with a system. Of course, the vast majority of users rarely open the terminal. But if you want to feel like a Linux guru, you should take a closer look at the terminal.

1. Shouting at the system

If you use a Linux terminal at least occasionally, you should be familiar with this situation. You enter a command that requires superuser rights to execute, but you forget to type before it sudo… The system informs you that the command cannot be executed.

Sometimes the best way to get Linux to do something is by yelling. Enter sudo !! – two exclamation marks let the system know that you are determined. The terminal will execute your last command with superuser rights.

This is convenient because you don’t need to re-enter the entire command.

2. View files and folders in Linux terminal

If you want to ditch beautiful and stylish file managers like Nemo and Nautilus and try something new, install ranger. This file manager works right in the console. To install, run: sudo apt install ranger.

Then start the file manager with the command: ranger.

Now you can browse your folders right in the terminal. Note that ranger has many commands that make it perform different operations on files. You can find them by typing: man ranger.

Another terminal file manager is mc, aka Midnight Commander. It is more functional than a ranger. You can install it simply: sudo apt install mc.

And then start Midnight Commander with the command mc.

It has a two-pane interface, and in general it looks simpler and clearer than ranger.

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3. Surf the Internet

If you have reached such a degree of enlightenment that you are viewing your files and folders in the terminal, then it is probably time to uninstall Chrome – all the same, it does nothing but show ads and drain your Google surfing history. Lynx is the choice for real console players.

You can install and run it with the commands:

sudo apt install lynx


It is a fully functional browser that runs in the terminal. Yes, it only shows bare text without pictures. Yes, it doesn’t support CSS and JavaScript. But it works so fast and takes up so little space that with it you can read FunPortal even on your granny’s calculator.

If Lynx seems a little too austere for you, try Links2. It is a fork of Lynx, it supports styles and JavaScript and even displays images. In it, you can not only open previously known URLs, as in Lynx, but also use Google search.

sudo apt install links2


4. Read email in Linux terminal

Linux also has a terminal mail client. Mutt supports IMAP and POP3 protocols and is compatible with almost any popular email provider. It even has a message encryption mechanism and electronic signatures.

sudo apt install mutt


5. Play music in the terminal

Tell me honestly: does the music player interface matter? Doesn’t he spend most of his time playing music in the background?

So you can demolish Rhythmbox and Clementine with their clutter of features like support for streaming music services and scrobbling in Last.fm. We will install moc (Music on Console) instead.

sudo apt install moc


6. Download torrents

Like a music player, the torrent client is usually minimized, so there is no place for interface beauties. rtorrent is a simple and tiny client that runs in a terminal.

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sudo apt install rtorrent


7. Monitor system resources

You can use htop to see which applications are so brazenly loading memory and processor. This is essentially Windows ‘Task Manager’ or macOS ‘System Monitor’. The application allows you to prioritize processes, sort them or terminate them.

sudo apt install htop


8. Print texts

George Martin wrote Game of Thrones on an old DOS computer using WordStar 4.0. He claims that it helps to be productive and not distracted by the Internet.

Let’s follow the example of the writer and work in vim. It is an old school text editor. It only has a black background and a white cursor. Nothing will take you away from the text.

Installs vim like this: sudo apt install vim.

You can start vim, oddly enough, with the command vim.

If the text editor interface seems confusing to you, type vimtutor – training will open.

9. Schedule events in the calendar

Calcurse is a console calendar. Google does not sync with the calendar, but otherwise provides good functionality. Allows you to create events and write to-do lists. It also has a notification system.

sudo apt install calcurse


10. See pictures

Yes, you can watch pictures in the Linux terminal. ASCII character graphics are, of course, not an amateur thing, but they look funny. Viewing pictures in the terminal is performed by cacaview.

sudo apt install caca-utils


11. Admiring the train

Linux has a command that displays the contents of folders in the terminal. Experienced terminal users use it quite often. It is called ls.

If you type quickly, you can confuse the two buttons and enter the command sl… And the terminal … will show you a steam locomotive with a wagon (Steam Locomotive).

This is just a fun easter egg from the developers. Who knows what they meant by that.

If the command does not display the locomotive, it means that the Easter egg has been safely cut out in your Linux distribution. To install it back, enter sudo apt install sl.

12. Watch “Star Wars” in the Linux terminal

Linux has a package telnetwhich allows your computer to connect to the network ports of other computers. By itself, it is only interesting for system administrators, but it has a funny Easter egg. Enter the command telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl, and you can watch Star Wars right in the terminal window.

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13. Get acquainted with the Discordian calendar

Linux has a command datewhich is used to set the system clock. Again, only system administrators need it, because ordinary people set the time and date through the “Options” menu.

But if you ever type ddate, the system will show you the current date … in the Discordian calendar. Discordianism is such a parody religion.

If the command does not work, then the easter egg has been cut out in your distribution. You can install it like this: sudo apt install ddate.

14. Talk to cows

For some reason, Linux developers love cows. Even more than penguins. Otherwise, you can’t explain why Easter eggs are even in the standard package manager. apt.

Enter the command sudo apt mooand the package manager draws a cow that asks if you mooed today.

You can also talk to cows through the cowsay terminal application: sudo apt-get install cowsay fortune-mod.

After installation enter fortune | cowsay… And the cow will give out some witty phrase – a quote of the day and stuff like that.

Besides cows, you can talk to other animals as well. For example, with a dragon or an elephant. To view the list of animals, enter cowsay -l.

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