aview: Let me draw you a picture

Thinking back, I haven’t seen a whole lot of ASCII art viewers for the console, with the exception of the ones that come bundled with the aa or caca libraries.

aview can do this though, and has enough side options to keep you pressing keys at random, hoping for a suprise mode.


I will tell you up front that aview wants its target file to be converted to PNM format, so you might want to dredge up imagemagick before you start in with aview.

Once it’s running though, you have quite a few nifty tricks at your disposal. aview is prepared to handle image inversions, several different types of dithering, zoom and un-zoom modes, frame-by-frame panning across images, and a lot more.

And I wasn’t joking about hitting keys at random: aview’s home page suggests there are some hidden features. If you find any, let me know. 😉

One nice touch about aview: You can save the resulting image into an HTML file, or your choice of about eight or nine other formats, replete with display, character and other options. How’s it look? Well, you be the judge.


Not gorgeous, but at least Tux isn’t embedded with evil hidden messages this time. 🙄 And that’s just the simplest of the available styles that I saw. Go crazy with that.

As a final note, I’ll mention that aview kicks into a graphical-ish mode if you trigger it from within a terminal emulator, which is why I demanded the curses driver in the gif above. It is smart enough to stick to text-only if you’re calling it from a virtual console though. (The caca suite was smart enough to do that too, if you remember that far back. cacaclock -f /usr/share/figlet/fonts/big.flf -d '%H:%M:%S' anyone? :mrgreen: )

And no, there’s no color, which I’m sure disappoints you as much as it does me. I will survive though, and I take some solace in noting that the last update to aview was more than a dozen years ago, if the home page is correct. I like software that can survive the times. 😉

2 thoughts on “aview: Let me draw you a picture

  1. Pingback: bb: Not so much a game, and not so much an application | Inconsolation

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