Go console

Sooner or later every user who got started using GNU/Linux with fancy Ubuntu windows has to get acquainted with big and scary Console. White letters on the black background, lots of typing and no sings of light in this long tunnel. But is it so bad? Console is an excellent solution which can help to deal with lots of problems way faster than moving the mouse around.

Another option why you should like working in a console is if you use ssh a lot. Sure you can connect to a remote terminal with ssh using -X option, so it would transfer the windows directly from one X11 server to another. But this can still be a bit slow and annoying.

Though, today we'll try to modify our working environment for active console usage and maximal convenience for that. I won't describe you common hot-keys or basic tips and tricks because there are loads of them on the Internet. I just want to share with some software that can make your migration to a console less hard and painful. So, here we go.


First of all, to use console effectively you have to have a good shell. You are probably equipped with bash or dash, but my choice is zsh. Why zsh? It's command completion feature is really nice, it can complete arguments and parameters for most popular commands, it can correct your spelling mistakes, it shares the command history across all active shells. And above all that, zsh is very customizable. By the way oh-my-zs is an excellent point to start using zsh if you look for saner defaults.

Terminal multiplexer

We need a terminal multiplexer if we don't want to spawn dozens of terminal windows (or we just cannot, as in ssh case). GNU screen is perfect for this. It can store multiple sessions in just one window, switch between them, operate them however you like. But the most toasty feature is sharable sessions, so that you can join remotely to a server, create a session, and then reconnect to the same session later (even from the other computer).

File manager

For sure, you'd like to use mc. It is a great piece of software, very extensible and constantly evolving. It somehow resembles the well-known Norton Commander, so it will be easy for former nc users to get used to Midnight Commander.


If you use Pidgin, you'll be glad there is finch. Finch is a console clone of pidgin, it has the same interface, it uses pidgin configuration, so you don't have to configure it at all. mcabber is an another nice program — it's a lightweight console XMPP client. It is highly configurable and has many handy features like external action triggers.


You probably already heard about mpd. Music Player Daemon is an fascinating software used all over the place where a network exists. It is a music server that can be controlled by any of the large amount of clients on the same computer or remotely. The simplest client for mpd is mpc — it has no interface at all, you just type commands to control the player. Hence, it requires no resources at all. The list of most popular mpd clients can be found here.


If you use Transmission then your choice would probably be transmission-daemon with transmission-cli. Daemon should be working on the server that would download torrents, and using client you can control the process, locally or remotely. Another option is a well-known rtorrent, even more client-server oriented and very extensible. There are clients for it that allow you manage your torrents via web interface from any computer which is really convenient.

So, as you can see, console is full of programs that can easily replace their GUI counterparts. And although, you cannot do everything you want from the console (browsing, for instance. Nevertheless you can try elinks), terminal window can become your sincere and beloved friend — always accessible, always fast, always there to execute your dreams.