Fun Things You Can Do in the Linux Terminal

Despite the seriousness of an operating system, the Linux community are certainly no strangers to a bit of fun. The developers over the years have created and inserted all manner of fun and odd elements into the Terminal.

Steam Locomotive

The first command we’re going to use is sl, it’s not installed by default so enter:

sudo apt-get install sl

The command can be run with sl and when executed will display a Steam Locomotive travelling across the screen (hence ‘sl’). Entering LS, note the upper case, also works.

Your Fortune

If you’ve ever fancied having the computer read a random fortune out to you, then you’re in luck. Most distros require you to install the fortune app, however Linux Mint differs somewhat by having it already pre-loaded. All you need to do is enter, in the terminal, the command:


Reversed Text

The rev command is certainly interesting, and at first what seems a quite useless addition to the OS. However, it can be used to create some seemingly unbreakable passwords. Enter:


Now type some text, when you press Enter everything you typed in will be reversed. Press Ctrl+C to exit.

Star Wars

Fans of Star Wars even get a fix when it comes to the Terminal. By linking to a remote server via the telnet command, you can watch Episode IV: A New Hope being played out, albeit in ASCII. To view this spectacle, enter:


Number Factors

If you’re stuck trying to work out all the possible factors for any particular number, simply enter factor followed by the number. For example, factor 7 doesn’t offer much output, whereas factor 60 displays more.

What Does the Cow Say

There’s a fine line between the rather cool and really-quite-weird. Having an ASCII cow repeat text to you could potentially fall in the latter. Enter cowsay followed by any text you want, such as:

cowsay Linux Mint is ace!

In fact, you can even output the ls command through the cow, by entering:

ls | cowsay

To further the cow element, there’s even a graphical, i.e. non-Terminal, cow available. Install it with:

sudo apt-get install xcowsay

Then when it’s installed enter something similar to cowsay, such as:

xcowsay BDM Publications

If you really want to expand the whole cow thing, for whatever reason, then pipe the fortune command through it, with:

fortune | cowsay

and for the graphical cow equivalent:

fortune | xcowsay

Plus, there’s always cowthink. Try: cowthink …This book is awesome.


The command toilet doesn’t inspire much confidence, we’ll admit. However, it’s not as bad asit first sounds. Start by installing it with:

sudo apt-get install toilet

Then when installed, type something along the lines of:

toilet David

Or perhaps list the contents of the current folder through it, with:

ls | toilet

Expanding the toilet command, you can actually generate some decent looking graphics throughit. For example, try this:

toilet -f mono12 -F metal David

You can enter toilet –help, for a list of the command line arguments to expand further.

Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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