Linux Command-Line People: I HAVE QUESTIONS!

I have a raspberry pi zero w that I finally managed to get ssh working after a weekish of flaffing about (spaced out over a monthish) because I couldn’t figure out why wifi wasn’t working on it. I have it updated, and right now it’s living in an old glasses casemerrily puttering away on my network doing little to nothing. This thread is twofold.

  1. With the pi as is, sitting on my network with just the tiny amount of storage it has on crd what can I do with it through SSH that would be useful? This part would potentially be helpful to those that have any old hardware that they can afford to leave somewhere running their flavor of linux on.

  2. I have a simi sorta goal if I can get help with the fiddly soldoring bits to make a pocket terminal, mostly aimed at writing, but possibly for a few other things depending on how comfortable i get with command line.

so on to the questions!

Are there any ‘writer centric’ text editors for command line? Failing that any way to make Nano a little more friendly to long period writing?

Any way to take text files and post those as blog entries?

Non-obtuse/easy to use mail clients?

Any chance at a CLI boingboing board program?

Is there a way regardless of what the terminal is doing, to have a line of screen space reserved for battery indicator, current time/other infobits that’d be nice at a glance?

Any way I can easily alt-tab between terminal windows? A related question is if that is possible how do i close out of a terminal when i’m no longer needing it to conserve on memory used and cpu cycles?

Any good command-line music players?

IM Applications (steam, AIM, Google, etc? I know bitlbee is a thing and i used that off of my DS since there was a homebrew irc client with a not infuriating UI. However are there other alternatives? I… how hard is Finch to use?

Clamshell or slide-out? As in do I use a clamshell DiW ‘let’s get an xbox chatpad connected to a pi and an adafrit tft’ or do I go with N-O-D-E’s modded iphone keyboard case?

Okay, I’ll be that guy and ask if you’ve considered using remote desktop rather than ssh?


Given all the candidate hardware is also pretty old. I hadn’t really considered it. Plus the pi zero itself is underwhelming power-wise, so keep it to tasks that aren’t GUI dependant.

For the first part, running a Pi-Hole or VPN is a good idea if you just want it to leave the pi plugged in and without interacting with it much.

My answers to your questions:

  • Wordgrinder could be a good option if you want something closer to a word processor. If you are comfortable with LaTeX, then vim or emacs with plugins could be what you want

  • There may be tools for this, but it would depend on the platform for your blog.

  • Mutt is an ncurses based email client. Emacs and Vim have plugins for email.

  • I don’t believe there is one specifically for discourse (what this bbs runs on), but lynx definitely works and w3m might work.

  • Tmux can be configured to do this with Oh My Tmux!

  • Again tmux does this through key board shortcuts. The above config file provides a large amount of shortcuts.

  • The only one I’ve used is cmus. Probably needs to combined with alsa-mixer to control the volume.

  • WeeChat with plugins may work for what you want, but you’d have to find (and test) the plugins.

  • Slide-out would be cooler.

Most (if not all) of the programs can be installed through the package manager. Hopefully, this is a good starting point. Beyond this, I probably can’t be of much help.


Emacs works very well in a terminal and has all the features you need for general writing. Org mode would be worth looking at for general writing as it handles headings, tables, bulleted lists, hyperlinks, etc., and can also export to HTML or PDF (after installing some extra tools)

My vote would be vim or pico for your editor. Pico comes with Alpine, which I would also recommend for your mail client.

Vim is my go-to daily editor, and I still use alpine to this day for certain logging email that I find more appropriate to read in a terminal than in a GUI-based email client.


The Pi is more than capable enough of running a windowed desktop environment so don’t worry about that. If space is an issue, 64GB micro SD cards can be obtained for really cheap (just make sure you buy from a reputable seller or else you’ll probably end up with counterfeit goods).


I used pine as my email client for many years, and I miss it on some levels.

I still use vim daily. I recommend it, but it’s not for everyone.


Flabbergasted at this response I got elsewhere to me asking the same as I did in this thread.

Well honestly, if it’s just for console use only, I would buy a Walmart $50-80 android tablet and install an ssh or console app.

This is very true. I could just go buy a china no-name tablet and root it. However… where’s the fun in that?


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