Stupid Geek Tricks: Watch Movies in Your Linux Terminal Window

By Lowell Heddings on February 22nd, 2009

In these days of high definition videos everywhere (even YouTube), only the truly geeky would decide to watch their movies in ASCII text in a terminal window. The surprising thing is that some videos are even fairly watchable.

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I’ve found that cartoons work best because of the limited detail. Even more importantly, the series finale and (probably) last ever Futurama movie is coming out Tomorrow on DVD! You can pre-order Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder on Amazon.

Watch Movies in ASCII

The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure that mplayer is installed, which is easy enough from the command line:

sudo apt-get install mplayer

Then, to actually watch the movies from a terminal window, use the following syntax, replacing MovieName with the filename of your video.

mplayer -vo caca MovieName.avi

The “caca” command is actually the color text driver – you could also use ” -vo aa ” instead for black & white, but that would just be silly.

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These screenshots don’t really do it justice – it’s seriously just as bad when you’re watching.

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Sequences with a lot of contrast work better…

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And it wouldn’t help to sit about 8 feet back from the monitor.

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Now that was truly a Stupid Geek Trick!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 02/22/09
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