Playterm, Platform of the Gurus

Playterm

Did you learn all your Linux console skills from books or from forums? Or, did you peek over someone's shoulder to see the real action? Once in a while, we stumble upon new projects that deserve some attention, like Playterm. What's the reason for this command-line "peep show"? To spread GNU Linux command-line knowledge.

You will see a fair amount of on-line terminal recordings when you enter this site. The recordings cover several topics performed in the shell: tricks, one-liners, guided tutorials and handy utilities.

Personally, I found them quite entertaining to watch, and it brought me back to the BBS days. It can be educational, and also quite hilarious to see people making typos and mistakes.

Another interesting Playterm feature is the embed facility. You can upload terminal recordings on this site, which you then can embed and play on your blog or Web site. Optionally, you can allow commenting on your recordings, which, of course, will provide interesting hints and tips and other improvements.

The Coder of Salvation (Leon van Kammen) created Playterm because he was just too curious about what people were doing in their terminals. He used to work for a company where he did extreme programming sessions with his colleagues through the GNU screen -x utility. In his experience, it is extremely educational when you work together in one terminal (and also entertaining). In his opinion, console-related books and articles are great, but sometimes it can be more helpful to see gurus at work. If it were up to him, more command-line projects should feature a terminal player on their sites: "Why not? Why have only a tar archive on a site? Developers should make more demos to show the world how cool their utilities are! It hurts me to see so many great utilities being overseen by the masses." Obviously, these are the words of a true terminal evangelist.

Before the big Internet boom, people used BBSes a lot. People called to other people's BBSes via their phone line. The cool thing about running your own BBS was that you could create a console "intervention". By doing this, you could "take over" the terminal session of a given user. In those days, a lot of teaching and cooperation was done this way.

Of course, the Playterm Web site would not be possible without the GNU and Open Source movement. Thanks also to the developers of ttyrec and jsttyplay.

Playterm is still beta, but it's already fully functional. Currently, we are curious about how many users we can serve, but in terms of global Linux knowledge, we are very excited. At this point, Playterm.org is a nonprofit project to serve the community and spread GNU Linux knowledge. Hopefully, it will inspire youngsters to use the shell more often.

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