Reddit Terminal Viewer

Charly's Column – RTV

Article from Issue 205/2017

Fortunately, Facebook is not the only place you can chat: When sys admin columnist Charly Kühnast visits the web chat center Reddit, he often goes without a web browser and uses the RTV tool, which can even display photos and videos on plain text consoles.

Reddit is a web portal where all sorts of people post all kinds of news from all possible topics and lead impossible discussions about them elsewhere. The allocation in various topic areas (subreddits) ensures a certain degree of structure. Instead of bothering with a browser, I often just use Reddit Terminal Viewer (RTV) [1].

The tool is written in Python, which is why the python and python-setuptools packages have cast their anchors in the system. Using

pip install rtv

I then run the actual RTV installation. After opening (rtv), you are greeted by the Reddit start page.

I either navigate using the arrow keys or Vi style: I can get to the login at the touch of a button (U). For me, Reddit is predominately a read-only medium, I rarely post and comment. If I did, then I'd need to log in, and the same goes for evaluating contributions. Using A, I can rate a post as positive (upvote); using Z, I can express my disapproval (downvote).

The Reddit comment system is implemented well in RTV. Indentations indicate who replied to whom. Using the spacebar, I can hide comment branches that I'm not interested in – for popular or controversial issues in particular, this is the only way to stay on top of things, because the length of comment threads on Reddit is legendary.

If I don't like a key assignment, I change it then and there. To do this, I enter

rtv --copy-config

to create a configuration file where the default settings are initially stored and which I now can adjust to my taste. As well as the key assignment, it is possible to define the character set (usefully preset to UTF-8) or allow automatic login. I can also set a home page for myself – for me, the subreddit /r/linux.

When the Images Learned to Run

Of course, showing media such as pictures or videos is an issue in a shell. However, if I've opened the terminal on a graphical user interface, RTV can call several configurable help programs to display media content. (Or I launch a browser immediately, but that can't be helped.) In preparation, I call

rtv --copy-mailcap

once. After that, in the home directory, I find the .mailcap file, which defines which viewer should play which medium (MIME type). The slim viewer feh is the default image displayer, which I have to install first (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Pixel fineness – as a console program, RTV gets help from the image viewer feh.

Later in the configuration file, I find links especially for text processors: This is where converters that convert images and videos into ASCII appear and show the content of the media on a text-only interface.

The Author

Charly Kühnast manages Unix systems in the data center in the Lower Rhine region of Germany. His responsibilities include ensuring the security and availability of firewalls and the DMZ.

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