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Discovering ncurses, the GUI for the Linux Console

Jan 25, 2010, 21:33 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Juliet Kemp)

"The CLI versus GUI debate is well-known, but sometimes, drawing a hard line between text-only interfaces and graphical interfaces is too restrictive. Most of the time, if you're using a terminal (whether over SSH or on the console), the CLI and text-only interface works great. Sometimes, though, it can be a real advantage to be able to use at least some graphical logic, without having to fire up an X server. Not all servers run X; you don't always want to forward X to your remote terminal; or you may be at a stage of system or hardware install that prevents you from running a regular graphical interface.

"This is where ncurses comes in. The ncurses library allows you to write programs that work in a GUI-like way, but which will run within a normal terminal emulator.

"You've almost certainly already encountered programs that use ncurses, including:

"screen, which allows you to run multiple screens in a single terminal window (this uses the terminfo information from ncurses but does its own screen-handling).

"make menuconfig, a tool which gives you a menu-driven user interface when configuring the Linux kernel before building it."

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