Top 10 Linux Console Applications

Again some useful stuff for Linux command line lovers 😉 :


It may seem like cheating, but think of GNU Screen as a window manager for the console. I found it to be much more usable than the multiple TTYs normally spawned by Linux. Unlike the default virtual terminals, Screen allows you to begin with one shell or application and spawn new ones on demand. You can also start with a dozen or more predetermined applications as soon as you log in. Screen allows you to page between running shells and applications, cut and paste between them, log input and output from any session, and share consoles with other users or groups. When running locally, Screen can password-lock your console. Best of all, you can detach a shell or application running from Screen. As an example, using Screen I start with a top session. I then press Ctrl-a and then the d key. This detaches the top session. If I log out, then log in again a day later, my top session is still running. A simple screen -r is all it takes for me to bring it back to the foreground. That alone is reason enough for me to use Screen — particularly for systems that I administer remotely.


Long before Outlook and Evolution there was Pine for handling email. This console-based email application was conceived in 1989 at the University of Washington in Seattle. It now supports LDAP searches and address books, exhaustive mail filtering and highlighting (with color coding), multiple POP and IMAP accounts, spellcheck, and MIME attachments through configuration of helper applications. The keystroke commands, though simple, may seem daunting at first, but the speed of the application makes mastering them well worth the effort. One of my favorite features is the default signature: “This message was written with Pine. Yes, that Pine.”


Lynx is a straightforward text Web browser that many Linux distributions include by default. It supports bookmarks, image viewing through helper applications, and color highlighting of URL links. Although Lynx does not display frames, it will allow you to select one frame from a frameset for viewing. I use Lynx in an xterm on my desktop for reading news and other interesting articles for which I don’t have the patience to put up with popup ads, bad graphics, and
moving advertisements.


I must admit that for console or xterm text processing I much prefer vi or Vim to any other CLI editor. In fact, I prefer Vim to many GUI-based word processors, and just as many people prefer Emacs. If, however, you would like something simpler, Zed is not a bad choice. It is small, fast, and provides many functions. Zed supports search and replace, multiple windows, macro programming, word wrap, text justification, and more. Although the default key sequences seem obscure, Zed provides for easy configuration of both menus and key sequences. I’d suggest it if you’d rather not learn vi or Emacs.

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