Silly Programs

Those of us who have been using Linux for a long time all know the joy of silly programs like xeyes. One of my favorites, however, is good old xsnow. Whether you love the cold weather or live in Florida and like to ski on occasion, xsnow will add some winter fun to your desktop. The xsnow program has been around forever and is surely available for your distribution.

If you're absolutely against snow and all its icy accomplices, you might want to check out a couple other oldies but goodies. Back before we had fancy computer games, we used to waste time with programs like xneko (you'll probably find it now as oneko), which was a little cat that chased your "mouse" around the screen. Or, perhaps you still enjoy the ever-staring eyes of xeyes (or a more modern tuxeyes). Finally, if your time-wasting tastes are a bit more on the macabre side, xroach (or groach) might tickle your fancy with bugs that scurry to hide under the windows on your desktop. Whatever your thoughts on silly time-wasting apps, you owe it to yourself to check out a bit of Linux/UNIX history.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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Espeak is very useful thing

Anonymous's picture

Espeak is very useful thing it converts all my ebooks to wave files and I can later listen to ebooks saving strain on my eyes and electricity wastage on any portable device.

my favourite silly software

rogueclown's picture

...and, who can forget the classic sl? mistype ls, get a steam locomotive.

A Doom-like pskill

Desidia's picture

I remember a patched version of Doom (or maybee Boom, a free fork) that allowed to kill processes from within the game, with your gun...

Never tried it, my box hadn't enough CPU for that... What was the form of a zombie process ?

With the first releases of OpenGL, there was also a 3D-top where the processes were displayed as changing blocks, like in a 3d chart, and it was possible to turn around them, see them from above, and so.

The problem was that the viewer consumed more CPU than all the others...

x-windows silly programs

Saint DanBert's picture

There was an X-roach like program that was spiders that would cover
an idle tube with cobwebs. Cannot remember the name.

And let's not forget the original "adventure" -- XYZZY

~~~ 0;-Dan

silly programs.

Anonymous's picture

Does somebody remember XBILL??

I love it.-


snagz's picture

I always loved maze, it would draw endless mazes on your screen and solve them. You can find it integrated into Xscreensaver now.


seanbutnotheard's picture

The silly programs quickly became one of my favorite things about Linux, not to mention the swaths of goofy and fun old games that are still in most repos. Running Xsnow on a Fluxbox desktop makes me nostalgic about the first Slackware box I built. To this day I install the xscreensaver-extra package on almost every machine I set up, and choose a screensaver that builds some work of computery art before my eyes (like "Vermiculate" or "Squiral").

Xeyes is useful

thisIsMe's picture

xeyes aren't time wasting! If you sit outside on a sunny day, and you can't find your mouse on the screen, xeyes can be very helpful :)


JD's picture

It's an ancient one, but whenever I set up a Unix box of any stripe, and the fortune (fortune-mod) packages are available, I install 'em and put 'em in my shell startup script.
Logging on can often then be good for a laugh.

Compiling the insults into Sudo is entertaining, too.


genus_001's picture

espeak reminds me of Joshua in War Games.

noone's mentioned figlet or

Mervaka's picture

noone's mentioned figlet or cowsay? brilliant fun, especially within irssi :)


Greg Wildman's picture

my favourite to use on newbies was xroach. Many a woman screamed when they minimized a window.


xmag - magnifier
xbiff - mail notification
xclock - analog clock

Do I have any chance to run

Tomka's picture

Do I have any chance to run xroach or groach on Ubuntu? I cannot find it


xtifr's picture

One of my favorites, good for letting off steam, is the ancient X11 demo program, blast, which lets you create (semi-) persistent holes in your windows. Feeling frustrated with your word processor or browser? Blast the thing full of holes!

The upstream source site seems to be dead, but it should still be available in several distros' repositories. (I was going to link to the Debian package page, which includes the unmodified source, but my attempt to do so seemed to make the system think I was spamming, so, "apt-get install blast" if you run Debian, and you're on your own otherwise.)

check Xpenguins

Anonymous's picture

I remember installing

Anonymous's picture

I remember installing ArchLinux (I think) a few years ago, and Xpengiuns was active on the greeter. It doesn't work so well once I'm logged in though, because my windows fill the whole screen.

Help! I didn't know

xrat's picture

... about these gOOdies :)
But I do know another:
Ubuntu users might want to try Alt-F2 and then "free the fish" :)

Do I have a chance, to stop

Anonymous's picture

Do I have a chance, to stop the fish, and if so, how.

kill the gnome-panel

sid's picture

kill the gnome-panel

Pulling the plug generally

xrat's picture

Pulling the plug generally helps getting rid of fish(es) ;-)

Works also in Fedora.

init 5's picture

Works also in Fedora.


Anonymous's picture

And how can I catch the fish?

click on it

Anonymous's picture

Just click on the fish (scares the fish), but it will come back again...

to stop the annoying fish,

Anonymous's picture

to stop the annoying fish, $killall gnome-panel