10 Fun Linux Command Line Tools You Should Try When You’re Bored

The Linux terminal is a powerful utility. You can use it to control the entire system, create commands and type while you go about your daily tasks. But it can quickly become overwhelming to keep staring at a command line and getting on with your work.


Lucky for you, the terminal is also a source of fun. You can play with commands, listen to music and even play games. While it would be going too far to expect much entertainment from a window full of commands, you can find utilities to bind some time if you’re bored.

Here are some fun and entertaining commands that every Linux user should try at least once.

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1. CMatrix

Starting with the list of a fun tool that every Linux user will love, CMatrix is ​​a command line utility that generates the classic “The Matrix” animation from the popular movie franchise of the same name. You can expect some great animations in different colors that you can customize as well.

Although CMatrix uses regular fonts instead of the original Japanese characters, you will definitely enjoy every moment you spend with the tool. Use it as your desktop screensaver or include the program in your rice screen shots from window manager, the choice is yours. You can even go to extremes and set up a CMatrix server on a laptop running the program 24/7.

Installing Cmatrix on Debian based distributions like Ubuntu:

sudo apt install cmatrix

About Arch Linux and its derivatives:

sudo pacman -S cmatrix

RHEL-based distributions such as Fedora:

sudo dnf install cmatrix

2. cowsay

What does the cow say? Absolutely, not just “tired”.

cowsay is an ASCII art-based command line utility that displays the specified input with a neat ASCII cowsay. While there isn’t much to this program, you can use it as a Bash prompt by calling the program with arbitrary quotes when you start a terminal instance.

cowsay "Mooooo"

To install cowsay on Debian and Ubuntu:

sudo apt install cowsay

On Arch Linux:

sudo pacman -S cowsay

On Fedora, CentOS, and RHEL:

sudo dnf install cowsay

3. sl

Everyone loves trains, especially steam locomotives. The Linux utility sl brings your favorite steam locomotive to your desk, using the terminal, of course.

Running the sl command is very simple.

sl

Installing sl on Ubuntu and Debian is easy.

sudo apt install sl

Likewise, Arch-based distributions:

sudo pacman -S sl

On Fedora, CentOS, and RHEL:

sudo dnf install sl

4. FIGlet

Have you ever seen a Linux terminal with beautifully crafted ASCII art on top? You can achieve the same results with FIGlet, a command-line tool that converts user input into ASCII banners.

Unlike some other ASCII art generators, FIGlet has no character limit, which is what sets it apart. You can create unlimited length ASCII arts with the tool, although characters may break if you enter longer strings.

FIGlet uses the following command syntax:

figlet "Your string here"

You can install FIGlet on Debian/Ubuntu with:

sudo apt install figlet

To install FIGlet on Arch-based distributions:

sudo pacman -S figlet

On Fedora, CentOS, and RHEL:

sudo dnf install figlet

5. fortune

Would you like to read a quote? Maybe something funny, or maybe an educational message? The excitement is there every time you make a fortune because you don’t know what’s going to happen to you next. Fortune is a Linux utility that returns random messages and quotes when run.

fortune

It’s easy to get completely absorbed in the assignment and read the entertaining (usually funny) quotes the fortune brings. The best thing about the tool? You can use it with cowsay and similar programs to produce an engaging Bash prompt for yourself.

cowsay | fortune

Install Fortune on Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt install fortune

On Arch Linux and similar distributions:

sudo pacman -S fortune-mod

Installing Fortune on RHEL-based distributions like Fedora and CentOS is also easy.

sudo dnf install fortune-mod

6. xeyes

If you’re someone who likes to have a pair of eyes on you every time you need to get something done, xeyes might just be the best Linux tool for you. Literally, xeyes brings a pair of eyes to your desktop. The best part? The eyeballs move depending on the position of your mouse pointer.

Starting the program is easy. Just type xeyes in the terminal and press Enter. The position of the eyes is the top left by default, but you can easily change it with the -geometry flag.

On Ubuntu and Debian-based distributions, you can install xeyes with APT.

sudo apt install x11-apps

Install xeyes on Arch based distributions:

sudo pacman -S xorg-xeyes

On Fedora, CentOS, and RHEL:

sudo dnf install xeyes

7. aafire

Want to light up your Linux desktop? You need a fire. It is a terminal based utility that starts an ASCII art fire in your terminal. While you won’t physically feel the heat that a fire brings, it’s definitely a “cool” Linux program to have on your system.

To install aafire on Ubuntu and Debian:

sudo apt install libaa-bin

About Arch Linux and its derivatives:

sudo pacman -S aalib

On Fedora, CentOS, and other RHEL-based distributions:

sudo dnf install aalib

8. speak

Have you ever wished your Linux desktop would speak exactly what you want? espeak is a text-to-speech utility that converts a specified string to speech and returns the output in real time. You can play with espeak by calling the command with lyrics or movie dialogues.

For the test run, you can try specifying a basic string first. Don’t forget to turn up your desktop speaker volume.

espeak "Hello World"

You can also change the amplitude and word spacing and play with the voices with espeak. Writers can use this tool to convert their words into speech, making it a perfect tool to assess the quality of the content.

On Ubuntu/Debian:

sudo apt install espeak

You can install espeak on Arch Linux from the AUR.

yay -S espeak

On Fedora, CentOS, and RHEL:

sudo dnf install espeak

9. asciiquarium

For those who ever want to own an aquarium, now is your chance. As the name aptly suggests, asciiquarium creates a virtual aquarium in your terminal using ASCII characters.

The fish and the plants are colored and that makes them come to life, leaving behind the boring terminal screen. You can also occasionally see ducks swimming in the water.

To install asciiquarium on Ubuntu and Debian:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ytvwld/asciiquarium
sudo apt install asciiquarium

Arch-based distributions:

sudo pacman -S asciiquarium

Installing asciiquarium on RHEL based distributions is also easy.

sudo dnf install asciiquarium

10. rig

Do you want to quickly generate a fake identity for some reason? gear is what you need. Being a command line tool, it returns output in an easy-to-read manner, for both users and computers. You can implement rig’s functionality in scripts to test features that require user information in bulk.

To install rig on Ubuntu and Debian:

sudo apt install rig

Arch-based distributions:

yay -S rig

RHEL-based distributions such as Fedora and CentOS:

sudo dnf install rig

Having fun with the Linux command line

All the tools mentioned in the list above guarantee you a moment of fun in the midst of the busy lives we all lead. You can install these tools just to play around with them, or you can turn them into something productive by using them in your code.

Whatever the practical applications, Linux programs always deliver what you expect. There are several other software and applications that every Linux user should know.

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