I like ASCII animations and want to view them through a terminal window.

What famous Linux programs and commands are suitable here to display ASCII animations or view videos in a terminal screen?

closed as too broad by Kaz Wolfe, terdon Jun 16 '17 at 17:17

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • You mean animated ASCII art? – Byte Commander Nov 17 '15 at 13:59
  • I'd like to clarify to the downvoters and thos who want to close this question - I meant ASCII animation - I didn't know what it was called :) – TellMeWhy Nov 17 '15 at 14:59
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    I retracted my close vote :) – Ravan Nov 17 '15 at 15:12
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    I won't retract my vote since I view this as too broad. – muru Nov 17 '15 at 16:27
  • Thanx for the edit @ByteCommander :) – TellMeWhy Nov 18 '15 at 10:57

Not really a short video but here is the most famous one: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Open a terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and run :

telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl

enter image description here

  • 1
    what's your theme and terminal? – Aleksandr Dubinsky Nov 18 '15 at 0:11
  • I am using arc-theme with Gnome terminal. Background color : #2F343F. – hg8 Nov 18 '15 at 8:28

You can play any video as an ascii animation with the caca video driver for mplayer:

sudo apt-get install mplayer2 caca-utils
mplayer -vo caca /path/to/video

This has several output options which work better in X11 but can also work from a real terminal, even over SSH (urgh, it's horrible). It'll also sync sound in there too.

If you don't have any videos to hand, I can help you out. You wouldn't get this from any other guy. I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling. Gotta make you understand...

sudo wget -qO /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl https://yt-dl.org/downloads/latest/youtube-dl
sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

youtube-dl -o- "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ" | mplayer -vo caca -

enter image description here

  • 3
    My eyes! My eyes! – muru Nov 17 '15 at 14:39
  • The goggles do nothing. – cbll Nov 17 '15 at 14:40
  • Great one - but I have no more votes... :P Can it play sound too? – Byte Commander Nov 17 '15 at 14:47
  • @ByteCommander: It is full MPlayer, so it supports all of MPlayer's audio output capabilities. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Nov 17 '15 at 21:14
  • You do know that downloading YouTube videos violates the YouTube EULA? – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Nov 17 '15 at 23:53

If you like trains, install sl:

sudo apt-get install sl

enter image description here

Now you can enjoy a beautiful old steam locomotive driving through your terminal as often as you want!

Also try sl with different parameters:

  • -a: "accident" - people in the train crying for help
  • -l: "little" - a smaller locomotive
  • -F: "flying" - antigravity is cool! ;D
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    I'm thoroughly convinced there should be a carexecutable to be run when you misspell cat. – kos Nov 17 '15 at 14:40
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    @kos that would be so cool :) – TellMeWhy Nov 17 '15 at 15:09
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    The joke is that you get a train every time you make typo of ls ;) – Grzegorz Wierzowiecki Nov 17 '15 at 19:59

Try this command:

$ curl -s http://artscene.textfiles.com/vt100/movglobe.vt | pv -q -L 9600

to see animated AsciiGlobe:

enter image description here

More examples: http://artscene.textfiles.com/vt100/

What is Animated Ascii Art?: http://www.qqpr.com/ascii-art-article-2.html

Source of command line snippet: http://www.cambus.net/visualizing-progression-of-file-operations-using-pv-pipe-viewer/

  • This should have been the accepted answere. – ychaouche Feb 12 at 15:54

This is also a great one - I haven't tried it but it looks awesome...

A live aquarium!

You can find out how to install it here.


I've just found one:

Burn your terminal:

sudo apt-get install libaa-bin

Run it with aafire:


What 6 answers and no mention of bb?

Youtube vid at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ukhOAUseKY

enter image description here

if not installed:

sudo apt-get install bb

run with:

  • 1
    I just watched the YouTube video you linked, but COOL! :D – Byte Commander Nov 18 '15 at 8:55

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