What are the programs you use from a *nix terminal to be able to communicate in today’s desktop world?


  • Terminal web browsers
  • Terminal e-mail clients
  • ASCII art renders
  • Text rtf/pdf/etc readers
  • Text chat clients

10 Answers 10


For web browsing, Lynx is my browser of choice.

  • Some people fix ads with adblock, others stop it at the source - images, and flash. Lynx is a brilliant lightweight browser. – Phoshi Dec 1 '09 at 15:25
  • 2
    i don't like Lynx - mor a fan of elinks myself – warren Dec 3 '09 at 10:09

For editing files, I use Vim. I keep meaning to use emacs a few times just to see what all the fuss is about; I believe that you shouldn't bash something if you haven't tried it. There wouldn't be a holy war if it didn't have some substance to it.

  • I don't see why there's a Vi/Emacs holy war. I use both. Vi is great for editing config files and Emacs is great for writing code. – Brian Knoblauch Dec 1 '09 at 15:27

Finch - a terminal messaging app based on the same libpurple library as Pidgin.


I use the following:

  1. Mutt for email -- I'd still use gmail, but with the IMAP interface.
  2. Vim for text editing
  3. mpd / ncmpc for music
  4. LaTeX for typesetting (also viewed as word processing)
  5. catdoc for extracting word document text
  6. W3M for web browsing (even supports images in the right environment)
  7. irssi for IRC
  8. I'd also set up a jabber/IRC bridge for IM
  9. OpenSSH for "remote desktop"
  10. naim or CenterIM for IM connetivity
  11. The ruby twitter gem which provides a CLI twitter app

Crunchbang comes setup witha good assortment of terminal applications for functions normally considered 'gui only' My faves:

  1. Vim text editor
  2. MOC audio player
  3. Mutt email clientr
  4. Lynx web browser

elinks for browsing.


Clearly Lynx, CenterIM and irssi are my basic tools if I ever need to switch to the terminal for some reason.

  • tpp for presentation (powerpoint)
  • wyrd and remind for calendar and todo
  • w3m and surfraw for web
  • irssi for chat (irc and xmpp)
  • vim for editng text and code
  • toilet for ascii artish textual content
  • tmux for "window" management
  • qalc for and advanced calculator
  • curl and transmission-cli for downloading stuff
  • pianobar and cmus for music
  • nethack for fun
  • weather-util for weather forcasts

K. Mandla'a blog has a lot of good stuff in it.


For all your gaming needs, you can replace regular GUI tetris with bastet

  • 2
    What, no mention of nethack? The ultimate terminal gaming experience? – Geoff Fritz Dec 1 '09 at 17:40

No one has mentioned links and links2, terminal browsers. links2 -g will give you image support, which unlike w3m doesn't need to be run in an xterm. They can both be used with surfraw, mentioned above for a CLI search engine interface.

For a database of browser links, there's buku

Also, there's a sweet little curses based terminal interface for Transmission torrent client (which itself is command line based, transmission-cli), called stig.

For a file-manager, I'd suggest midnight commander.

For passwords, use pass, which can be backed-up by a git repo for easy sync'ing through the cloud.

For editing, of course emacs. ;) But really, that'll give you the masterful org-mode for notes/tasks etc. Then there's eww-mode for browsing in emacs. It's also an IDE, and really an entire language for extending/creating your own editor.

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