telnet: The fundamental tool for entertainment

The bad part of writing about telnet — which is to say, the difficult part — is showing it in action.

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As I understand it, telnet just gives you a tool for accessing the telnet protocol, probably in the same way that a browser is a tool for accessing http (and other) content. So once it’s up and running, there’s not much of telnet itself to see.

The good part is, if you have telnet access and a live line to the Internet, you will never, ever lack for things to do.

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For every graphical game that requires a rat’s nest of dependencies and specific hardware support and only coughs up a generic shoot-em-up experience, there are probably 10 well written, well developed text-only games that only require an active connection and an 80×24 terminal space.

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A thousand themes, a thousand environments and a thousand worlds to explore, in every variation imaginable, and no more hardware requirements than what you can scrape up with a leftover 133Mhz laptop and a lousy PCMCIA network card.

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So in the end, the magic of telnet is not what it does, but what it gives you access to.

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Perhaps that’s a lesson for elsewhere in life as well. 😉

P.S.: telnet is part of inetutils in Arch, but stands alone as telnet in Debian.

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7 thoughts on “telnet: The fundamental tool for entertainment

  1. John

    Many of these games have better clients available, though. Telnet’s great for the Star Wars thing you mentioned, but when it comes to MUDs you want a better input interface. I use TinyFugue (tf on the command line) for my MUD (Aardwolf).

    I think telnet’s greatest advantage is that when you’re on a server you don’t have root access to it’s probably already installed. And it serves a practical purpose – you can use it to check if there is _something_ listening on a given port at a given IP. Most servers will output something for some sort of handshaking, and telent is a really simplistic thing so it will just dump that on your terminal. So you can get an idea of what kind of thing it was that accepted your connection.

  2. alexdantas

    You’re right! Telnet is awesome because of the things it gives access to!
    And to John, on the comment above, ‘TinyFugue’ is great!
    It’s available on Arch Linux as ‘tf'[0].

    Also, I researched a little bit and found out some interesting links:

    Flashterm[1] is a telnet client written in Adobe Flash.
    It’s a nice thing for machines without telnet installed, although I haven’t
    tried it; because of no Flash 😦

    Victoria Freenet Association provides a short listing of databases[2]
    to telnet, along with their description.

    tenet.org also has a short list of places to telnet[3].

    [0]: https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/tf/
    [1]: http://www.flashterm.com/
    [2]: http://victoria.tc.ca/history/internet/telnet-sites.html
    [3]: http://www.telnet.org/htm/places.htm

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