Aug 252012
 

I originally started The FOSS Convergence to celebrate those things that *BSD, Linux and Other OS’s have in common.

So I thought to myself “what would be the best way to highlight these similarities?”, most of us will be using a Unix-Like OS, most probably a type of BSD or a distro of Linux, both of which can be described as having a stable base with a GUI layered over this, so with this in mind the obvious place to start would be with CLI applications and commands that are used in an almost identical way on all unix-like operating systems.

I also thought that as we are all “end users” that i would approach this from the perspective of what we as end users require of a environment and how we can do that regardless of which environment we choose to work in.

Talking of CLI applications, I will clarify – for the sake of this article that CLI refers to an application that you can use without X in a tty console, as well as in a terminal emulator within a Window Manager (WM) or Desktop Environment (DE).

We will look at several areas/sections of typical usage within any given WM or DE.

1.Browsing the internet
2.Reading/Accessing Email
3.Viewing Pictures
4.Watching/Listening to (multi-)Media
5.File Management
6.Chatting online
7.Text Editing/Word processing

In order to keep things cleaner I will limit myself to discussing up to 3 alternatives within each section, there are many more to each area, if anyone has a good suggestion for such apps, please let me know – either by adding a comment, or by joining the forum, where I will also post this article.
Ok so to get started we have


1.Browsing the internet

We have a plethora of options here as prior to having graphical browsers this s how we saw the ‘net’, even within text/cli mode browsers there is scalability, there are minimal browsers, full web browsers and even ones that will show pictures within a text environment

a> retawq homepage:http://retawq.sourceforge.net/

is a minimal text mode ncurses based web browser, its written in C, is fast works in very low ram low resource machines – has some great features

b> Lynx homepage: http://lynx.isc.org/

is often referred to as ‘THE text web browser’, it is fully featured is SSL capable and will display HTML, local documents and will read content on systems using http, gopher,ftp, wais, nntp, finger or cso/ph/qi servers and services accessible via telnet among others, it can even be used to build information systems intended for local access. its extensive documentation can be found here

c> w3m homepage:http://w3m.sourceforge.net/

is a combined web-browser, pager (like less, man,more) and can convert html into plain text it can also be configured to display images in-line too


2. Reading/Accessing Email

a> mailx homepage: http://heirloom.sourceforge.net/mailx.html

is similar to the ‘mail’ command is included in many unix-like operating systems however the mailx command is able to directly contact imap based email accounts with “mailx -f imaps://

b> mutt homepage: http://www.mutt.org/

is a super configurable email user agent (email client) that is extremely powerful in use, yet light on systems resources.

c> alpine homepage: http://www.washington.edu/alpine/acquire/

(and re-alpine) is the (A)lternativly (L)icenced (P)rogram for (I)nternet (N)ews and (E)mail (see what they did there), its a very capable alternative to mutt


3.Viewing Pictures

This is a particularly poor area of knowledge for me, it seems that dedicated image viewers are either console or X related,please let me know if there are applications that do both well, you could always use a cli web browser that renders images – like w3m or links-g

a> zgv homepage: http://www.svgalib.org/rus/zgv/#desc

(or xzvg when using X) is a console mode picture viewer using svgalib with a thumbnail-based file selector. (xzgv is uasable in X)

b> seejpeg homepage: http://www.icewalkers.com/Linux/Software/5130/Seejpeg.html

A console graphics viewer using the svga console graphics library

c> feh homepage: http://feh.finalrewind.org/

is an X image viewer that can do nmore than just view pictures (I realise this is a cheat app as it is not usable within teh console/tty)


4.Watching/Listening to (multi-)Media

There is 100′s of CLI apps for music and video limiting it to 3 is difficult…

a> abcde homepage: http://code.google.com/p/abcde/

a cd ripper that is able to encode into several different auto formats

b> mpg123 homepage: http://www.mpg123.de/

a small easy to use mp3 player

c> mplayer homepage: http://www.mplayerhq.hu/design7/news.html

works as well from the command line as it does from a GUI front end. and can output via framebuffer , aalibs or caca (ascii movies)


5.File Management

a> cdls homepage: unknown (please let me know!)

is a curses-based file manager for quickly browsing directories and files

b> commands ls cd mv rm ,

learn the commands in the shell of your choice – they will work in console also

c> mc homepage: https://www.midnight-commander.org/wiki

is a great toolbox, containing file management, ssh and ftp to remote servers , editor and more ….


6.Chatting online

a> weechat homepage: http://www.weechat.org/

is a irc chat client , extensible including other chat protocols (via BitlBee – )

b> mcabber homepage: http://mcabber.com/

is a small console jabber client with features such as SASL/SSL/TLS support, MUC (Multi-User Chat) support, history logging, command completion, OpenPGP encryption, OTR (Off-the-Record Messaging) support, dynamic modules and external action triggers

c> centerim homepage: http://www.centerim.org/index.php/Main_Page

a multi protocol instant messenger capable of connecting with many of teh most popular protocols.


7.Text Editing/Word processing

a> vi homepage: http://docs.freebsd.org/44doc/usd/12.vi/paper.html

a modal text editor, some state that if a unlx-like OS does not have vi included then its not unix-like

b> nano homepage: http://www.nano-editor.org/

a small easy to master text editor, ( a gnu rewrite of pines pico)

c> wordgrinder: homepage: http://wordgrinder.sourceforge.net/

a console mode word processor ,for processing words! – also what I have used to write this blog post, prior to formatting..

Ok so that’s it (so far), there are a multitude of other commands and applications that many operating systems use in common, just try ‘cal -3′.
% cal -3

you can respond below or if a forum member here