The screenshot might look like it's a screen grab from a ZX Spectrum emulator running a copy of Hacker, but it's actually way more advanced than that. It's an X session framebuffer being rendered in a console session, with the framebuffer itself showing Firefox with the Linux Voice page open. This kind of thing has been done before, with video or image data being piped through a graphical tool that will turn the imagery into ASCII text. It's possible to do this quickly enough that video input can become a recognizable video output, albeit rendered in text. And because it's text, you can easily view the stream from anywhere with remote terminal access, such as an SSH terminal.

The difference with Texttop is that it's interactive – it's not simply broadcasting a passive stream. This is a big deal because it fills in a missing gap on the command line – the ability to run applications designed for graphical interaction. The web browser is the perfect example, because while command-line alternatives like links2 are excellent for occasional use, such as downloading new graphics drivers after a kernel update has destroyed your configuration, they're not every good with most websites. For those, you need a fully fledged browser with proper JavaScript, such as Firefox. Texttop lets you access a remote Firefox session through a regular terminal. While it's almost impossible to use at this stage, the proof of concept does work, and the author is working on a major revision. You can launch a remote browser within Docker and use Mosh to access it via SSH. From there, you can view your remote session and interact with it using the mouse just as you would locally.

Project Website

Stuck on a low bandwidth connection and need to access a website? Try piping Firefox through Texttop.

Storage analyzer

ncdu 1.13

There are several great ways to check how much storage space you have remaining and where storage is being used. One of the best GUI-driven applications is Filelight as this gives a rapid visual overview of your complete filesystem organized by size. The bigger the file, the more it consumes a pie-chart representation of your directory structure. On the command line, however, you're typically left quite literally to your own devices. Commands like du and dh can be used with a variety of arguments to present the same kind of data as Filelight, albeit without the color. But there's another option, and that's ncdu.

As its name implies, ncdu is an ncurses-driven replacement for du, and it's so effective that you're unlikely to want to resort to either a graphical or a command-line alternative. Its main feature is speed. Launch the command and within seconds (storage medium permitting) it will populate a list of files and folders relative to your current location with a hash-character bar graph used to visualize which take up the most space. Pressing g switches the graph between this mode and a percentage indicator and then both. Pressing d will scarily delete the selected file or directory (after a warning), and pressing b will spawn a shell in your new location. All these keyboard shortcuts can be accessed by pressing the ? key within the utility. But the best thing about all of this is its speed, as you can quickly skip through the filesystem and instantly see where all the space is being used. It's perfect for a remotely connected Raspberry Pi or any other remote server and is quicker than trying to do the same thing from the desktop.

Project Website

Celebrating more than 10 years of updates, the best feature in the new version is the inclusion of color!

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