Patch into The Matrix at the Linux command line

Patch into The Matrix at the Linux command line

Recreate the classic look and feel of everyone's favorite 1990s sci-fi movie code scroller with cmatrix.

Linux toy: cmatrix
Image credits : 

Jason Baker


Get the newsletter

Join the 85,000 open source advocates who receive our giveaway alerts and article roundups.

You've found your way to today's entry from the Linux command-line toys advent calendar. If this is your first visit to the series, you might be wondering what a command-line toy even is? It's anything that's an entertaining diversion at the terminal, be it a game, a fun utility, or a simple distraction.

Some of these are classics, and some are completely new (at least to me), but I hope all of you find something you enjoy in this series.

As we come to the close of another year, it's a good time for looking back, and looking forward. What will 2019 hold for you? What does it mean to be 2019?

I'm reminded that 2019 will mark the twentieth anniversary of one of my favorite science fiction movies from my teenage years, that at the time had me thinking a lot about what the future would hold: The Matrix. For a computer nerd kid like me, it was the ultimate story of a computer programmer rising up and becoming an action hero in a virtual universe by tapping into the power of his mind.

At the time, there was no movie that seemed more futuristic to me; both in the story itself, and in the mesmerizing special effects. Realizing that it was filmed over twenty years ago doesn't change that in my mind.

Bringing it back to our command-line toy for today, let's recreate the downward flowing code of the Matrix at our terminal with cmatrix. cmatrix was an easy install for me, packaged for Fedora, so installing it took simply:

$ dnf install cmatrix

Then, just type cmatrix at your terminal to run.

You can find the source code for cmatrix on GitHub under a GPL license.

Do you have a favorite command-line toy that you think I ought to include? The calendar for this series is mostly filled out but I've got a few spots left. Let me know in the comments below, and I'll check it out. If there's space, I'll try to include it. If not, but I get some good submissions, I'll do a round-up of honorable mentions at the end.

Check out yesterday's toy, Winterize your Bash prompt in Linux, and check back tomorrow for another!

Linux toy: Bash prompt

Your Linux terminal probably supports Unicode, so why not take advantage of that and add a seasonal...

About the author

Jason Baker - I use technology to make the world more open. Linux desktop enthusiast. Map/geospatial nerd. Raspberry Pi tinkerer. Data analysis and visualization geek. Occasional coder. Cloud nativist. Civic tech and open government booster.