While the "recovery console" session option found in the GDM login screen would be the closest replication of my X-less ordeal, I found that the xterm window it had was too small to show in snapshots. I decided to log into Gnome, but work solely within a maximized xterm window(alternatively you can use gnome-terminal and toggle full-screen with the F11 button). Here are the following applications I've used so far, grouped together according to general tasks:
Yes, the Linux command line can have a "window manager" of sorts. That window manager is called screen. It allows you to have multiple terminal sessions, similar to managing tabs in GUI terminal emulators. It's a necessity when you want to run several command line tasks at once and backgrounding will not suffice, or when have logged onto a server via SSH and wish to run something after you've exited the session. It should be available in virtually any major distribution's repositories.
While it's true the command line is non-graphical, it is certainly possible to do some multimedia tasks with no problems.
For sound recording, you can use arecord to record sound from your microphone, and then pipe the output to an encoder like so:
arecord -f cd -d numberofseconds -t raw | lame -x -r – out.mp3
arecord -f cd -d numberofseconds -t raw | oggenc – -r -o out.ogg
|Music On Console|
To rip audio from a CD, cdparanoia does the job well and the output can be sent to an audio encoder just like arecord.
You can also master and burn CDs/DVDs on the command line. As I mentioned in the last blog post, growisofs can be used to both create ISO images and burn them to disc.
You can also watch movies on the command line with mplayer by invoking it like this:
mplayer -vo caca movie.avi
|Vim, editing a C header file|
Antiword allows you to view and convert MS Word files into plain text, PostScript or PDF files. An indispensable tool if working with Word files is unavoidable.
|Wordgrinder word processor|
|SC spreadsheet calculator|
While Web browsing has evolved into a very multimedia affair(Flash, Youtube, Facebook/Twitter, etc.), there's a surprising amount of things you can do on the Internet without a GUI.
|ELinks web browser, viewing Groklaw.net|
For non-interactive web interaction, wget and curl are excellent tools. You can also download torrents with the rtorrent console client(mentioned in the previous blog post and highly recommended).
For email, there's several console email clients to use. There's pine/alpine, the traditional mail command, and mutt. If you're used to using the nano text editor, alpine is the easiest option. Mutt is way more powerful, but requires a bit of configuration to get it working specifically how you want it to.
|Irssi, chatting with the Kokua/Imprudence devs|
|Montage of previous screenshots|
Yes, there's some terminal-based gaming options for Linux. You can connect to various text-based MUD(multi-user dungeon) games on the Internet via the telnet command. A good place to start with MUD games is The Mud Connector. If text-only isn't your thing and require something marginally more graphical, the surprisingly challenging nethack game may be right up your alley. If you've got a bunch of old DOS games lying around, you can use dosbox to play them.
I'm pretty sure I've missed a few things, so feel free to let me know in the comments.