Fun with Linux

Fun commands and Utilities for Linux

The following are a collection of amusing and funny programs/commands that can be issued from your command line. Here are a selection of some of my favourites:

Cowsay and Cowthink

Cowsay is a configurable talking/thinking cow! Simply issue either cowsay or cowthink followed by some words and an ASCII image will be displayed along with your text message. If you don't like cows, then you can select one of around forty alternative characters. To install "cowsay" from a Debian based system, you can issue: sudo apt install cowsay

Examples of cowsay in action:

john@mint01a:~$ cowsay welcome to
< welcome to >
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||
john@mint01a:~$ cowthink welcome to
( welcome to )
        o   ^__^
         o  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

Alternative characters are called by passing the "-f" parameter: cowsay -f ghostbusters Who you Gonna Call

$ cowsay -f ghostbusters Who you Gonna Call
< Who you Gonna Call >
            \          __---__
                    _-       /--______
               __--( /     \ )XXXXXXXXXXX\v.
             .-XXX(   O   O  )XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX-
            /XXX(       U     )        XXXXXXX\
          /XXXXX(              )--_  XXXXXXXXXXX\
         /XXXXX/ (      O     )   XXXXXX   \XXXXX\
         XXXXX/   /            XXXXXX   \__ \XXXXX
         XXXXXX__/          XXXXXX         \__---->
 ---___  XXX__/          XXXXXX      \__         /
   \-  --__/   ___/\  XXXXXX            /  ___--/=
    \-\    ___/    XXXXXX              '--- XXXXXX
       \-\/XXX\ XXXXXX                      /XXXXX
         \XXXXXXXXX   \                    /XXXXX/
          \XXXXXX      >                 _/XXXXX/
            \XXXXX--__/              __-- XXXX/
             -XXXXXXXX---------------  XXXXXX-

$ cowsay -f stimpy Oh Joy!
< Oh Joy! >
  \     .    _  .    
   \    |\_|/__/|    
       / / \/ \  \  
      /__|O||O|__ \ 
     |/_ \_/\_/ _\ |  
     | | (____) | ||  
     \/\___/\__/  // 
     (_/         ||
      |          ||
      |          ||\   
       \        //_/  
       __ || __||

List of available Characters

Below are a list of ASCII image files that can be called after the "-f" parameter. You do not need to pass the extension ".cow" part of the name. Simply type: cowsay -f koala Gday

apt.cow                ghostbusters.cow  sheep.cow
beavis.zen.cow         gnu.cow           skeleton.cow
bong.cow               head-in.cow       snowman.cow
bud-frogs.cow          hellokitty.cow    sodomized-sheep.cow
bunny.cow              kiss.cow          stegosaurus.cow
calvin.cow             kitty.cow         stimpy.cow
cheese.cow             koala.cow         suse.cow
cock.cow               kosh.cow          three-eyes.cow
cower.cow              luke-koala.cow    turkey.cow
daemon.cow             mech-and-cow.cow  turtle.cow
default.cow            meow.cow          tux.cow
dragon-and-cow.cow     milk.cow          unipony.cow
dragon.cow             moofasa.cow       unipony-smaller.cow
duck.cow               moose.cow         vader.cow
elephant.cow           mutilated.cow     vader-koala.cow
elephant-in-snake.cow  pony.cow          www.cow
eyes.cow               pony-smaller.cow
flaming-sheep.cow      ren.cow

To get a list of the available cowsay files on your system issue the command: cowsay -l

Various other options are available such as "-d" for dead mode, "-e" for changing the eyes and "-T" for tongue options. For full details simply type "man cowsay" at the command prompt.

sl - Steam Locomotive

Have you ever typed the list command "ls" wrongly and entered "sl". Well you no longer have to put up with an error, you can simply install the "sl" package. On a Debian based system simply type: sudo apt install sl

Now whenever you type "sl" instead of the "ls" command, you will see an animated Steam Locomotive go across your terminal screen.

Various options are also available that can be passed to the "sl" command:

sl -a "An accident seems to happen. You'll feel pity for people who cry for help"
sl -F "It can Fly"
sl -l "Little Locomotive"

For a full list of options visit the man pages: man sl


Fancy snow on your desktop, well now you can with "xsnow". To install xsnow simply issue the command:

sudo apt install xsnow

To run "xsnow" simply type xsnow into your terminal. You should now be visited by Santa and his Reindeer, snow and lots of Christmas trees!

Numerous options are available to adjust the settings for the snow, the size and speed of Santa, wind speed and background colour. For a full list of options available, type man xsnow in your terminal.

Xsnow Linux desktop


Cmatrix is a program that simulates the display from the film "The Matrix". To install "cmatrix" on a Debian based system, issue the command :

sudo apt install cmatrix

Various options are available which allow you to adjust the characters, speed and colour of the display. For a full range of options, issue the command: man cmatrix in your terminal. Cmatrix is run from the terminal by issuing the command: cmatrix

Cmatrix Linux desktop

Oneko - Cat and Mouse

Oneko is a program that creates a virtual desktop cat that chases your mouse pointer around the screen. Options are available that allow you to change from a cat into a dog or even a tiger like cat. For a full list of the characters available and options, issue the command: man oneko from your terminal. Oneko is started by issuing the command: oneko from your terminal. To install "oneko", on a Debian based system, issue the command:

sudo apt install oneko

Jessie Jack


Fortune will provide you with an interesting adage selected randomly. To install issue the command:

sudo apt install fortune

Examples of some of the output from the "fortune" program:

$ fortune
Noise proves nothing.  Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles
as if she laid an asteroid.
		-- Mark Twain

$ fortune
As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.
		-- Shakespeare, "King Lear"

$ fortune
You too can wear a nose mitten.

$ fortune
How apt the poor are to be proud.
		-- William Shakespeare, "Twelfth-Night"

$ fortune
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

For a list of options, issue the command: man fortune


Toilet is a program that allows you to create colourful characters. You can specify colours, filters and fonts to create your master piece. To install "toilet" on a Debian based system, issue the command:

sudo apt install toilet

To run toilet, simply type "toilet" followed by the text you wish to be displayed. For a full list of the options regarding fonts, filters and colour, refer to the man pages with the command: man toilet

Below is "toilet" called with no parameters, and then with the filter "metal":

Toilet Linux desktop

Hash - How many times have I typed that command today?

To find out how many times you have typed a command today, type "hash" in your terminal:

$ hash
hits	command
   1	/usr/bin/top
   1	/usr/bin/nmon
   2	/bin/uname
   1	/usr/bin/free
   7	/usr/bin/clear
   1	/sbin/ip
   3	/bin/ls