View images without a graphical environment

The issue of how to view graphics at the command-line is a thorny one. Theoretically, should you find yourself without a GUI, it should be possible to install and use simple image viewing programs that use the framebuffer. This is where the image data is written straight into the memory of the graphics card, without any need for complexities such as actual graphics drivers. However, Ubuntu prohibits the use of the framebuffer because it can cause problems with the hibernation power-saving mode.

A solution, and it's one that has a measure of entertainment value, is to convert the image to lots of letters and numbers. When viewed from a distance, or through squinted eyes, the contents of the photo can just about be made out. It's far from ideal, for sure, but can be surprisingly useful and is often entertaining to boot.

Start by using Synaptic to install the aview and imagemagick packages. Then switch to a virtual console, login and type the following: $ asciiview filename.jpg

Obviously, you should replace filename.jpg with the name of your file. The file can be any image format.

You can zoom into the picture using the plus and minus keys, and move around it using the cursor keys. See Figure 3.41, on the following page for an example from my test PC. A good tip is that repeatedly zooming in and out somehow causes the image to be easier to comprehend. When you've finished, hit (q).

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