Terminal Activity

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Activity-terminal.svg The Terminal activity grants access to the XO's Linux command line.

The Terminal is an Activity that allows you to control your XO directly from a command line, similar to the Terminal program in Mac OS X or the Command Prompt in Microsoft Windows. The Terminal allows you to do far more with your XO than running Sugar activities. But BEWARE it is also possible to delete your data, so be careful. And if you become the root user, you have full control of the computer and can destroy all software!

See the Terminal manual.

Starting Terminal

The Terminal Activity is usually not marked as a favorite, so it does not appear in the Home View Favorites view.

In the Home View, press ctrl-2 to select the List view, search for Terminal, and click on it to start.

You might also mark it as a favorite if you like.

Starting a console

You can also access a Linux command prompt by switching to the console, instead of starting the Terminal activity.

Common Terminal commands

When you start Terminal, it runs the Bash "shell" program that interprets keystrokes and commands. Its main job is to allow you to run other programs, for example:

  • nano for editing text files directly. If you want to edit text files in Sugar, use Write.
  • yum for automatically installing new software.
  • rpm - another way to automatically install new software
  • olpc-logbat - log the activity of the battery system. Useful for assisting developers in debugging battery problems.

There are hundreds of Linux commands available in the Terminal, Linux software describes some more of them. The OLPC system software on the XO is a slimmed-down version of Fedora and so its command-line programs come from Fedora. Many command-line programs from Fedora are not available but experienced users can add them using yum or rpm.

Users and super-user

Initially Terminal begins as the default user (usually "olpc"). Some programs require that you run them as the root "super-user. You can prepend sudo to some of these, or press the #_ icon in the Activity menu to become root, or enter su -l to become root. The root user has awesome destructive power, do not run commands as root unless you have to.

Copy and paste in Terminal

Several options:

  • Use the Edit menu, which is underneath the scissors icon,
  • Press Shift+Ctrl+C to copy, Shift+Ctrl+V to paste,
  • Plug a three-button USB mouse into a port and use the middle mouse button to paste,
  • Click both buttons below the track pad (or click directly between them) to paste.
  • Configure a bluetooth mouse on an XO-4 and use the middle mouse button to paste,

You can select text in Terminal's window and use the mouse or track pad methods to duplicate it without first copying it to the clipboard.

Copy from Wiki and Paste in Terminal

Many Wiki pages provide commands that are to be pasted into Terminal. For example:

echo this is a test
echo hello world

What you should do is:

  • Start the Terminal activity,
  • Press Alt-Tab to switch to the Browse activity,
  • Use the mouse or touchpad to highlight the text of the commands,
  • Press Ctrl+C to copy,
  • Press Alt-Tab to switch to the Terminal activity,
  • Press Shift+Ctrl+V to paste,
  • Look at the outcome of the commands.

See also how to copy and paste a compound command.

Other keystroke commands

Keyboard shortcuts lists special keys in Sugar. Some of these don't work in Terminal, or require that you press the Shift key as well.

Change font size in the Terminal activity

To change the font size, click on the eye icon, then click on - or +.

The Console

Another way to bring up the Linux command prompt is by pressing the Ctrl+Alt+F2 keys in sequence.

By design, not all XOs have the F2 legend on the key, see Keyboard#Missing_keys.

Ctrl-Alt-F2 will switch to a console terminal that runs outside the Sugar and GNOME.

To return to the Sugar or GNOME environment, press Alt+F1. (On releases before 11.2.0, use Alt+F3).

Most Sugar or GNOME commands won't work on the console.

Logging in

Press enter, and the console will log you in as root. You are now logged in as the root user, be very careful.

Alternative terminal program

You may also switch to the GNOME desktop to use the Terminal program there, in the Applications -> System tools menu.

See also

  • Linux software A brief description of some of the linux software that is installed with Sugar.
  • BASH Reference A longer list of commands and programs (many are not installed on the XO by default because they aren't needed).