If there's one thing the traditional command line is missing, it's animation. Not just flashing colors or pretend rotating characters, but actual moving things as you might see them from a desktop application. Considering the limitations of a text-based interface, you might think this is impossible to achieve, but Chafa has managed to make it look easy. And Chafa doesn't just handle animations, it can also display almost any image you can throw at it, all rendered almost perfectly, directly in your console. It does this by converting images and animations into ANSI X3.64 control sequences and ANSI/Unicode characters. The resulting images and animations are of a much higher resolution than you might expect from the command line, and it's genuinely useful to be able to view certain files without switching back to the desktop.

At its simplest, the chafa command takes a single argument as the path to the image or animation file. This will then be displayed as the output, inline with your command line. Color reproduction will depend on your terminal's capabilities, but it defaults to 24-bit output and can easily be reduced with an additional argument. There are dither options to help you get the most out of a limited palette. Changing the font size won't change the size of the image, but the font-to-image ratio can be adjusted to stretch or shrink an image in the output either horizontally or vertically. There are, of course, further options to scale an image manually or to get an image or animation to use as much space as it can. It's only when you start using Chafa that you realize how useful viewing images in the command line is, and it's equally brilliant that you can also view animations at almost the same quality you'd expect on the desktop. If you spend most of your day with the command-line interface, this is an essential install.

Project Website

Chafa's name is an acronym of "character art facsimile," and it can display both static images and animations on the terminal.

Note-taking app


There are lots of note-taking applications, but the majority are all trying to do something unique – whether that's note taking with keyboard shortcuts, on the command line, via a desktop widget, or synced with a phone app. FeatherNotes isn't unique in this way, but it is unique as a great and effective note-taking tool. FeatherNotes is a Qt-based hierarchical note manager with a rich text editor, support for embedded images, excellent search functionality, and password protection. The main application window operates a lot like an empty file manager, with a panel for the hierarchical view on the left and the text editor on the right. You can start creating notes immediately, and the editor is brilliant to work with. It offers all the same kind of markup you get from a word processor, including font control, left and right alignment, justification options, and good support for both lists and tables. Editing also feels remarkably fast.

The application is set up to help you make notes quickly, and you can start typing before you've even created a default state. New notes are created as nodes in the view on the left, and these can be added underneath a parent or as a new top-level parent, with as many sub-levels as you need. Nodes can be tagged to make search easier, have their fonts changed, and even have an icon assigned to them. You could use an application icon for notes related to a specific tool, for example, or photos for characters in a work of fiction. Just like files in a file manager, nodes can easily be dragged from one place to another, and the entire project can be exported as either HTML or as a PDF, as a single node or for the whole project. This is a brilliant way of organizing a book or large document, for example, and we can't think of any other note-taking application with an equivalent feature.

Project Website

FeatherNotes is a note-taking app that's also brilliant for authors because you can export your current structure as a single file – great for trying out chapter ordering.

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