On the menu

I have mentioned a couple times that I have been running without X for quite a while, on my main system. Here’s what’s running on it; some of this appears on the Software page, but some isn’t really listed there.

  • alpine, for e-mail
  • antiword, in the odd case I need to decipher a Word file
  • axel, which is a fantastic download accelerator
  • calcurse, as an organizer and day planner
  • centerim, which connects to Yahoo chat for me
  • cmatrix, which I use mostly as a screensaver
  • the Terminus console font, which offers fantastic readability at very low resolutions
  • elinks, the only console browser I will use
  • freecell, for occasional entertainment, it’s a bit too addictive though. …
  • fttps, the console download manager that blice put together
  • hnb, which is great for any kind of nested list, and holds a lot of my notes to myself
  • htop, which is vastly superior in almost every respect to the standard top display
  • iftop, my favorite network monitor of the ones I have looked at (and I’ve looked at a lot … )
  • irssi, which I use when I chat (which is rare)
  • mc, as if there was another console-based file manager to consider :P
  • mocp, which is simply the bestest music player, console or graphical
  • myman, which is as distracting as freecell, but in a quicker, shorter way (I hate that pinkish ghost … :evil: )
  • ncftp, although to be honest, I rarely need this
  • nethack, which absorbs hours of time … which I don’t have these days
  • rtorrent … of course
  • screen, with the vertical split patch, which makes it all come together in an amazing way
  • slurm, although to be honest I use iftop a lot more
  • snownews, but I don’t read news feeds much these days, so it might just be taking up space
  • tpp, but I really don’t have a use for it
  • tty-clock, which is more readable at a distance than screen’s clock display … that’s important when you’re vacuuming the house before going to work
  • vim, which is slowly becoming less and less cryptic for me, and more usable
  • vimwiki, which can hold any notes which don’t quite work in hnb
  • vitetris, which of the four games I have mentioned, is probably the one I enjoy the most often

For all practical purposes, the things I’ve mentioned thus far don’t need a framebuffer to be useful. These three aren’t really workable without framebuffer support, which should be obvious.

  • fbgrab, for screenshots … everybody loves screenshots ….
  • fim, which shows pictures and stuff, when they’re needed
  • mplayer-fb, which is kind of what I call mplayer with support for only the framebuffer as an output device

And that’s about it. If you’re running console-only and need some ideas, there are a few. For now though, that’s what’s on the menu here. ;)

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30 Responses to “On the menu”


  1. 1 zenfunk 2009/06/08 at 12:20 AM

    Nice list- Thanks.
    Thinking about antiword which I grew rather fond of since my current linux distribution only has SIAG- office by default and doesn’t support .doc files… well out of the box.

    I just wondered what to do with your OpenOffice xml files?
    How can they be read on console?

    • 2 K.Mandla 2009/06/08 at 7:07 AM

      Good question. I haven’t needed to open one yet; as a matter of course I occasionally need to open Word files from work, which is why antiword comes in handy.

      I’m sure going from OOo to text has to be easier. Or maybe someone needs to invent an antiOOo application … ?

  2. 4 Luca 2009/06/08 at 12:46 AM

    I found a guide on the Arch forums which lists a bunch of console apps. Not quite sure why the poster suggest doing it in Ubuntu though :P

    http://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=61403

    I really want to try this however there are two things that don’t think there are X alternatives of:
    - A browser with Javascript support
    - Skype video calls

    After exams are over (this week woo!), I am going to setup a tiling window manager and try and use mainly console apps.

    • 5 K.Mandla 2009/06/08 at 7:11 AM

      That might be the best middle-ground, if you have to have both Javascript browsing and Skype.

      Or you could pick up and old Pentium III, plant it on one side of your main machine, and run a graphical environment in that. That’s what I do. ;)

  3. 6 gregbognar 2009/06/08 at 3:51 AM

    Nice list, but why don’t you use Emacs? I don’t mean to start a flame war if you’re a vim fan — but since Emacs already comes with many of the functionalities that you look for (e.g., email, calendar, org-mode for planning and notetaking, jabber for chat, etc.), it would make sense to use it, wouldn’t it?

  4. 8 CorkyAgain 2009/06/08 at 5:41 AM

    As I keep telling you, there ARE other console-based file managers worth considering. Myself, I prefer vifm rather than mc, because (a) it’s more like vi; (b) it’s smaller than mc; and (c) because it follows the Unix paradigm of delegating many tasks to external programs rather than using built-in code, it’s just as powerful while at the same time being much more configurable to my liking.

    • 9 K.Mandla 2009/06/08 at 7:21 AM

      I knew that would be abrasive. :mrgreen: I’ll give it another look, I promise.

      • 10 CorkyAgain 2009/06/11 at 12:47 AM

        I admit, vifm’s default colorscheme gives it a clunky feel. Don’t be put off by it. The first thing I do after installing it is to change the color of the borders to the same black as the panes. I suggest you do the same.

  5. 11 karthik 2009/06/08 at 7:50 AM

    I’m nearly as much a fanatic as you when it comes to console apps- in fact, your blog started me down this path three years ago. (So thank you!)

    That said, my experiments without X were not as successful as yours, and I came to rely on terminal apps running on a Ubuntu minimal install + openbox.

    That list above is fantastic- and my thoughts match yours word-to-word in the matter of Elinks (the only console browser I need), hnb, mocp (easily the best music player ever), and rtorrent (of course). (I haven’t had much luck with axel, though.)

    A couple of suggestions though, if I may:
    1. wv instead of antiword. wv converts Word documents to Text, Html, LaTeX, RTF, PS, PDF and Abw (among other) formats, which is great for viewing, printing and even editing (LaTeX or Html) complex Word documents.

    2. Emacs over Vim: I’ve been a Vim user for four years now. Vim is very powerful- combined with regular expressions, there isn’t much I can’t do in Vim when it comes to plain text. Even so, I tried Emacs recently on a whim, and was blown away once I wrapped my head around the whole Elisp thing. Like gregbognar mentioned above, it comes with email, calendar, a file browser, and many other apps in your list integrated into it, and since the interface is unified,
    i) They play very well with each other.
    ii) you won’t need to remember separate keyboard shortcuts for all of them.

    Also, Emacs plays nice with external programs- much better than Vim does. (For instance, Cutting text in Emacs automatically places it in the global X clipboard; it takes a little coercing to get Vim to do the same.)

  6. 12 roland 2009/06/08 at 9:46 AM

    Probably u want to make howto for centerim Kmandla like cplay?(which i found it as my favorite music player for now)it looks like a replacement for pidgin or kopete, but i dont know how to use it :) Thx

  7. 13 ChanibaL 2009/06/08 at 5:49 PM

    > mc, as if there was another console-based file
    > manager to consider
    Or is there?

    During it’s best days, the famous norton commander had a quality spinnoff – the dos navigator, a few years ago they released it to the open source and while the original has only support for dos, it has been forked to windows/os2 (http://www.dnosp.com/e_index.php; look here for docs) and linux (http://ndn.muxe.com/)

    Give it a try.

  8. 14 jared 2009/06/09 at 1:34 AM

    To view ooxml files such as .docx documents in the CLI, you will need to convert them to text. Please see http://www.jaredandcoralee.com/CLIapps.html#File_Converters for a list of CLI apps that convert ooxml files.

    unoconv is really good http://dag.wieers.com/home-made/unoconv/ but requires OpenOffice.org 3.x to be installed.
    docx2txt is another specifically for .docx http://sourceforge.net/projects/docx2txt/

    Thanks K.Mandla for another great list of CLI apps. I need to try axel.

    • 15 CorkyAgain 2009/06/11 at 12:53 AM

      I’ll echo jared’s thanks for the great list!

      I’m trying axel too, and have already seen how it yields faster downloads. It intrigues me enough that I’m probably going to crack open the source code to see how it merges the output from multiple connections…

  9. 16 colonelcrayon 2009/06/09 at 2:33 AM

    Very nice list! I found a couple new apps.

    My attempt to follow you to the framebuffer failed when I discovered just how much I use spreadsheets. They are just my favorite way of organizing things, and oleo is not an option. Still, my current SliTaz+dwm setup allows for lots of console apps, and with 1 gig of RAM I can afford a little bloat :P

    I’m really starting to like dvtm more than screen. It is more powerful than I remembered…

    • 17 K.Mandla 2009/06/09 at 7:50 AM

      You might look at teapot, sc or slsc, for alternatives to oleo. sc, to the best of my knowledge, has been around almost since the invention of the wheel, and slsc tries to improve upon it a little.

      Teapot is a rather unusual approach to spreadsheets; you might like it.

      I don’t use spreadsheets enough to endorse any of them though. You experiment, and tell us which is best. ;)

      • 18 colonelcrayon 2009/06/09 at 9:40 AM

        I’ve tried those, and they just don’t cut it. I don’t even have a decent graphical spreadsheet now that gnumeric failed on my setup… :(


  1. 1 s5h.net » Blog Archive » Recommended Power Applications for GNU/Linux Trackback on 2009/06/09 at 9:34 AM
  2. 2 Links 09/06/2009: AbiWord v2.7.3 Released, China Spying Obligatory | Boycott Novell Trackback on 2009/06/09 at 4:14 PM
  3. 3 Cleaning up is hard to do « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/07/24 at 9:26 AM
  4. 4 Minor housekeeping « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/07/31 at 10:54 AM
  5. 5 Travels with Charley « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/10/28 at 6:56 AM
  6. 6 Three weeks with the Pentium « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/11/27 at 1:00 PM
  7. 7 A console-only Ubuntu system « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/01/01 at 12:40 PM
  8. 8 Buying a name « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/01/08 at 5:01 PM
  9. 9 A Windows XP-ish Debian at 120Mhz « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/01/24 at 8:23 AM
  10. 10 Rounding out a terminal-based Debian system « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/01/24 at 11:47 AM
  11. 11 In-house updates: Software page changes « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/02/12 at 1:40 PM

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