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Terminal is one of the utilities that is commonly found on UNIX-based computer such as Linux and Mac OS. It is where users can type commands asking the computer to perform certain tasks. Something like a DOS environment in Windows. Kinda geeky, isn’t it?

That’s why everyday computer users tend to avoid Terminal. People say that tinkering with the Terminal is not for the faint hearted. Because something could – and possibly would – go wrong.

But actually, there are fun things that we can do using the Terminal’s command line. Here are few of the simple ones.

1. Play the Old (Classics) Games

Mac OS X comes with GNU Emacs, part of GNU operating system, which can be accessed via Terminal. There are some old, classic games hidden there. They are far from beautiful if you compare them with all the graphically-intense ones that we have today. But to fill in some spare times, these ‘uglies’ will do just fine.

To access them, type in (or better yet, copy and paste) this command into the Terminal to access the GNU Emacs:

emacs

Click Enter, then continue with the key combination of “Esc + x”. Type in one of these game’s names to start playing:

5×5
blackbox
dunnet
gomoku
hanoi
landmark
mpuz
pong
snake
solitaire
tetris

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I know some of them well (the last four on the list) while other names did not exist in my dictionary until just now. I tried to play them all but without any information or how-to’s, it’s a tough effort to carry out.

If you want to quit the game, use the key combination “Ctrl + x” followed by “Ctrl + c”

2. Watch the text-based episode of StarWars IV

I used to think that George Lucas skipped his early Math classes since he started the Star Wars sagas with number IV. Yet, I’m always a big fan of Luke and Leia.

If you feel like being nostalgic (and have plenty of free time to spare), why don’t you connect to the net, open the terminal and type in:

telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl

That’s how far a REAL fan will go. (And if you are lucky enough to have IPv6, you’ll get more scenes and – drum roll, please – color!)

3. Talking Terminal

Still have so much time to spare but no one to spare the time with? You could have the terminal talking to keep you company.

Just type in:

say {Fill in your text here}

Fill in any text in the area provided above and Terminal will speak it out for you.

4. Meet the Doctor

After going as far as letting the talking Terminal accompany you during your lonely hours, you feel worried about your mental health and thinking about going to a mental therapist.

Well, look no further. Emacs also hides a virtual psychologist. To consult it with your problems, follow the above steps on number 1, but instead of typing in the name of the game, you type “doctor” (sans quote).

I guarantee that you would need a real psychotherapist after consulting with this one.

As a final note, I think I should mention that I tried these fun things on my Mac. But since everything described here is merely command lines, these commands should also work fine on Linux Play Games Inside Your Linux Terminal Play Games Inside Your Linux Terminal Read More machines.

Do you know any other fun but simple things that you can do with the Terminal? Or can you help with some of the unknown games above? Share your knowledge using the comments section below.

  1. Anonymous
    December 6, 2016 at 12:16 am

    If you do: sudo apt install oneko

    it will install an app which makes cats chase your cursor

    i dont know how to get them off though :(

  2. caleon fox
    October 28, 2016 at 3:07 am

    how do i get the doctor to respond when i typed ret ret. or RET RET. or RETRET or retret it did not work

    • jde
      November 2, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Press enter twice

  3. hebgrvfsd
    July 30, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I can't figure out the games or the docter, what's a sans quote does it make a difference?

    • stera_droid
      September 18, 2016 at 2:02 am

      after typing "emacs" hit Esc and then X... a little blue prompt will pop up at the bottom of the "emacs" screen in this prompt type "Solitaire"

  4. POL
    May 27, 2016 at 7:03 am

    vaya mierda, me ha decepcionado esta pagina

    BASURA??

    SIIIIII

  5. Alexia Francesconi
    September 27, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Amazing article - learnt a lot here.
    Just the one thing, I'm not abel tot use the 'doctor' function and it's really bugging me!

    Just to recap on that one (and check I've got the process correct), it's:
    - emacs [Enter]
    - Esc + x keys
    - *doctor*

    ...right?

    Thanks!

    • Karryanne
      December 1, 2015 at 9:44 am

      You only need to type doctor, not *doctor*

  6. Brandon
    March 2, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    i wish someone would give instruction on the controls of some of the games. Solitaire for instants i have figure out how to jump left and right but i can't seem to find how to jump up and down

  7. Austin
    December 19, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    make your terminal sing a song: osascript 'say "your text here" using "cellos" ' this makes the terminal the text you wrote between the quotation marks as a song using the cellos voice

    • Jamey Austin
      May 28, 2015 at 10:37 pm

      Since Snow Leopard or before, you can just use $ say -v "cellos" "your text here".

  8. Neil Brock
    July 18, 2009 at 6:48 am

    The Star Wars ascii movie, or at least most of it, is available with any web browser at:
    asciimation.co.nz/

    Neil

  9. john
    July 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I've been searching for a while for cool terminal stuff.

    I think you can try:

    curl dict://dict.org/d:(word you want)
    no brackets, of course. I think it gives a dictionary definition.

    I think it gives you the list for the emacs thing when you put this:
    ls /usr/share/emacs/22.1/lisp/play

  10. Rishabh Mishra
    July 9, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    I believe that the Mac OS X commands "say" and "doctor" will not always work on other Unix-like systems.

    The same goes for the Emacs tip--but Emacs is far more likely to be available on most other Unix-based systems anyway.

  11. Sergio
    July 9, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Note that this works perfectly well in Windows as well.

    Go into DOS (WindowsKey+R - Type "cmd") and just write the telnet link. :D

    • Angelina
      July 9, 2009 at 7:54 pm

      Aww boo... you stole my comment :[
      I've tried the txt starwars on windows and its pretty cool
      although I can't wait to try everything else in Terminal on my mac partition =P

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