If you want to try using a Linux terminal and aren’t sitting anywhere near a Linux system, don’t despair. There are some services that will allow you to run a Linux terminal inside a browser. This post examines some of these and should give you a feel for what you can do and the performance you might experience.
The Linux terminal sessions described here were all run on a Windows system using a Chrome browser. While you could as easily run a Linux terminal in a browser on a Linux system, you’d likely be less motivated to do so.
You’ll find available links to JSLinux through this site:
Of the eight systems listed, six are Linux. Go for one of the console windows listed. These URLs include:
- Alpine Linux 3.12.0: https://bellard.org/jslinux/vm.html?url=alpine-x86.cfg&mem=192
- Buildroot: https://bellard.org/jslinux/vm.html?cpu=riscv64&url=buildroot-riscv64.cfg&mem=256
- Fedora 33: https://bellard.org/jslinux/vm.html?cpu=riscv64&url=fedora33-riscv.cfg&mem=256
I prefer the Fedora 33 implementation from JSLinux because it includes man pages while the other two don’t seem to.
You’ll end up being logged in as root, though the who command won’t be available to acknowledge your presence. Even so, the whoami and the pwd command will confirm your identity:
localhost:~# who; whoami; pwd sh: who: not found root /root
If you like, you can compile the hello.c program and run it, you should see this.
localhost:~# cc -o hello hello.c localhost:~# ls
bench.py hello hello.js hello.c readme.txt localhost:~# hello sh: hello: not found localhost:~# ./hello hello world
You might want to run some of your favorite Linux commands, put together a script or two and explore the command line. I put together and ran a simple bash script to count the files in each of the directories in my search path.
$ cat count_commands #!/bin/bash for dir in `echo $PATH | sed “s,:, ,g”` do echo $dir ls $dir | wc -l echo “==========” done
[root@localhost ~]# ./count_commands /usr/local/sbin 0 =========== /bin 2349 =========== /sbin 609 =========== /usr/bin 2349 =========== /usr/sbin 609 =========== /usr/local/bin 9
Clearly, the system is equipped with lots of Linux commands.
If you run into problems when trying to run a script, source the script like this:
[root@localhost ~]# ./count_commands sh: ./count_commands: not found [root@localhost ~]# . count_commands
Even with the current file system location in my search path on one of the systems, I needed to source the script to get it to work.
To check out your search path, use a command like this:
$ echo $PATH /usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin
The man page directories on Fedora look like this:
[root@localhost ~]# ls /usr/local/share/man man1 man2 man3 man4 man5 man6 man7 man8 man9 mann man1x man2x man3x man4x man5x man6x man7x man8x man9x [root@localhost ~]# ls /usr/share/man ca es it man1 man2x man4 man6 man8 mann pt_BR sv zh_TW cs fr ja man1p man3 man4x man6x man8x nl ru tr da hu ko man1x man3p man5 man7 man9 pl sk uk de id man0p man2 man3x man5x man7x man9x pt sr zh_CN
Running a man page command when the man pages are available works as you’d expect.
[root#localhost !]# man date [root@localhost ~]# DATE(1) User Commands DATE(1) NAME date - print or set the system date and time SYNOPSIS date [OPTION]... [+FORMAT] date [-u|—utc|—universal] [MMDDhhmm[[CC]YY][.ss]] DESCRIPTION Display the current time in the given FORMAT, or set the system date. Mandatory arguments to long options are mandatory for short options too.
Asking about the IP address of the system I was using, I saw the loopback (127.0.0.1) interface and an internal 10.x.x.x address.
localhost:~$ ip a 1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN qlen 1000 link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00 inet 127.0.0.1/8 scope host lo valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever 2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UNKNO WN qlen 1000 link/ether 02:46:81:31:ca:a3 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff inet 10.5.218.60/16 brd 10.5.255.255 scope global dynamic eth0 valid_lft 817sec preferred_lft 667sec
NOTE: When you open one of these JSLinux consoles, you will always start at the same place—a fresh Linux terminal. Any scripts or changes you make will not be preserved in any way.
Copy.sh is another virtualization tool that allows you to run Linux (or a number of other OSes) inside a browser. To see all of the options available, go to http://copy.sh/v86/. You’ll find a couple dozen options that include Windows, FreeBSD, Oberon and a number of others in addition to Linux.
I took a look at these options:
- linux26: http://copy.sh/v86/?profile=buildroot
- archlinux: https://copy.sh/v86/?profile=archlinux
The Damn Small Linux option provides a graphical interface which I’ve yet to fully explore.
- Damn Small Linux: http://copy.sh/v86/?profile=dsl
Once again, how to run my script varied with the distro I was using. I had to source my script on the buildroot terminal, but not on the archlinux one.
~% cat showme #!/bin/bash echo “Hi, there” echo -n “What are you looking for?: “ read ans echo “Sorry, I have never heard of coffee” ~% .showme ./showme: not found ~% . ./showme Hi, there What are you looking for?: coffee Sorry, I have never heard of coffee
I also ran the count_commands script
~% . ./count_commands
One of things I liked very much about copy.sh was that it gave me the option to “Save State” and “Load State”. This means that I was able to preserve the scripts that I added and recover them when I next connected from the v86state.bin file that had been saved on my system.
The only strange problem I ran into with the copy.sh terminals involved having to use Control-Alt+Delete followed by hitting “Cancel” to release my trackball from the clutches of the terminal.
Speed on terminal-in-a-browser options is not always impressive, but it’s nice to try Linux inside a browser and explore what it can do for you. Lots of Linux commands are available and, in spite of a few quirks and performance issues, the virtualized Linux systems can be very nice to use.