Maps fuel the imagination, inspire flights of fancy, and instill a yearning to travel—whether to the farthest corners of the globe or the nearest White Castle for a smorgasbord of sliders.

While it’s probably more satisfying to pull that dusty old atlas off the top shelf of your bookcase, and more useful to hit up Google Maps in the browser, it’s infinitely cooler to gaze at cartographic excellence from the comfort of your favorite terminal emulator. .

Here’s how you can use mapascii to view maps in your Linux terminal.

MapSCII gives you the world in your terminal

Modern maps viewed through a monitor are little more than static images showing roads, rivers and boundaries with a pre-determined level of detail. Any dedicated map program of quality will allow you to zoom from planetary scale to house level and pan across cities, countries and continents with any level of detail you choose.

MapSCII does this too—instead of seeing the world in your browser with satellite imagery, blocks of color, and clean vector lines to guide you, your experience is completely terminal-based, with images made up of ASCII characters . They are mostly dots, but with letters in place names.

How to Install and Use MapSCII on Linux

To use MapSCII on Linux, you don’t need to install anything. Simply connect to the MapsCII tile server via Telnet—an ancient networking protocol that comes as standard in all Linux distros.

It’s as if you’ve been thrown back to an early 1990s movie with a group of teenagers gathered around a tiny CRT monitor.

The map data is courtesy of OpenStreetMap, and you’ll find that you can use your mouse to drag the map across your screen, and also use the mouse wheel to zoom in on particular locations. It’s great fun.

If you prefer keyboard-driven navigation, you can use the standard Vim key bindings (HJKL) for panning, or the cursor keys for zooming in and out, along with A and Z.

Pressing c changes the view to block character mode.

Of course, connecting to a remote server via Telnet is not ideal from a security perspective, and for anything involving usernames, passwords or personal data, we would advise against it.

Running MapSCII over Telnet also means you have to work with delays as the data and maps are provided remotely. Your virtual globe-trotting halts abruptly with the message: “Renderer is busy,” as you drill down toward street level during a whimsical exploration of Guinea-Bissau.

And if you leave the connection idle for more than two minutes, you’ll see “Connection closed by foreign host”.

So it’s great that you can easily install the MapSCICI client on your local machine if you are able to use the Snap packages.

We love MapSCII and have spent hours exploring cities along the Silk Road, checking out the terrain in war zones and pretending we’re part of a 1980s sci-fi action movie. MapSCII certainly has some advantages – especially if you have very little bandwidth, a low-spec machine, or an aversion to GUIs.

But MapSCII is only a map viewer. It doesn’t do route planning and doesn’t show you street photos at the press of a button. If you want that type of functionality, you’re better off with Google Maps or Apple Maps.

Viewing Maps in the Linux Terminal Is One of the Many Things You Can Do

The terminal is central to the Linux experience, and it’s nowhere near as good as having fun with Maps. In addition to the daily business of managing your file system, accessing remote machines, and surfing the Web with the text-based browser, you can do almost anything, including listening to music.

Want to spend some time while you are at work? View Wikipedia summaries from terminal and free your mind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *