Lolcat – A Command Line Tool to Output Rainbow Of Colors in Linux Terminal

For those who believe that Linux Command Line is boring and there isn’t any fun, then you’re wrong here are the articles on Linux, that shows how funny and naughty is Linux..

  1. 20 Funny Commands of Linux or Linux is Fun in Terminal
  2. 6 Interesting Funny Commands of Linux (Fun in Terminal)
  3. Fun in Linux Terminal – Play with Word and Character Counts

Here in this article, I will be discussing about a small utility called “lolcat” – Which produce rainbow of colors in terminal.

Lolcat Command to Output Rainbow of Colors for Terminal
Lolcat Command to Output Rainbow of Colors for Terminal

What is lolcat?

Lolcat is an utility for Linux, BSD and OSX which concatenates like similar to cat command and adds rainbow coloring to it. Lolcat is primarily used for rainbow coloring of text in Linux Terminal.

Installation of Lolcat in Linux

1. Lolcat utility is available in the repository of lots of Linux distributions, but the available version bit older. Alternatively you can download and install latest version of lolcat from git repository.

Lolcat is a ruby gem hence it is essential to have latest version of RUBY installed on your system.

# apt-get install ruby		[On APT based Systems]
# yum install ruby		[On Yum based Systems]
# dnf install ruby		[On DNF based Systems]

Once ruby package has been installed, make sure to verify the version of ruby installed.

# ruby --version

ruby 2.1.5p273 (2014-11-13) [x86_64-linux-gnu]

2. Next download and install the most recent version of lolcat from the git repository using following commands.

# wget
# unzip
# cd lolcat-master/bin
# gem install lolcat

Once lolcat is installed, you can check the version.

# lolcat --version

lolcat 42.0.99 (c)2011 [email protected]

Usage of Lolcat

3. Before starting usage of lolcat, make sure to know the available options and help using following command.

# lolcat -h
Lolcat Help
Lolcat Help

4. Next, pipeline lolcat with commads say ps, date and cal as:

# ps | lolcat
# date | lolcat
# cal | lolcat
ps Command Output
ps Command Output
Date Output
Date Output
Calendar Output
Calendar Output

5. 3. Use lolcat to display codes of a script file as:

# lolcat
Display Codes with Lolcat
Display Codes with Lolcat

6. Pipeline lolcat with figlet command. Figlet is a utility which displays large characters made up of ordinary screen characters. We can pipeline the output of figlet with lolcat to make the output colorful as:

# echo I ❤ Tecmint | lolcat
# figlet I Love Tecmint | lolcat
Colorful Text
Colorful Text

Note: Not to mention that is an unicode character and to install figlet you have to yum and apt to get the required packages as:

# apt-get figlet 
# yum install figlet 
# dnf install figlet

7. Animate a text in rainbow of colours, as:

$ echo I ❤ Tecmint | lolcat -a -d 500
Animated Text
Animated Text

Here the option -a is for Animation and -d is for duration. In the above example duration count is 500.

8. Read a man page (say man ls) in rainbow of colors as:

# man ls | lolcat
List Files Colorfully
List Files Colorfully

9. Pipeline lolcat with cowsay. cowsay is a configurable thinking and/or speaking cow, which supports a lot of other animals as well.

Install cowsay as:

# apt-get cowsay
# yum install cowsay
# dnf install cowsay

After install, print the list of all the animals in cowsay as:

# cowsay -l
Sample Output
Cow files in /usr/share/cowsay/cows:
apt beavis.zen bong bud-frogs bunny calvin cheese cock cower daemon default
dragon dragon-and-cow duck elephant elephant-in-snake eyes flaming-sheep
ghostbusters gnu head-in hellokitty kiss kitty koala kosh luke-koala
mech-and-cow meow milk moofasa moose mutilated pony pony-smaller ren sheep
skeleton snowman sodomized-sheep stegosaurus stimpy suse three-eyes turkey
turtle tux unipony unipony-smaller vader vader-koala www

Output of cowsay pipelined with lolcat and ‘gnu‘ cowfile is used.

# cowsay -f gnu ☛ Tecmint ☚ is the best Linux Resource Available online | lolcat
Cowsay with Lolcat
Cowsay with Lolcat

Note: You can use lolcat with any other command in pipeline and get colored output in terminal.

10. You may create alias for the most frequently used commands to get command output in rainbow of colors. You can alias ‘ls -l‘ command which is used for long list the contents of directory as below.

# alias lolls="ls -l | lolcat"
# lolls
Alias Commands with Colorful
Alias Commands with Colorful

You may create alias for any command as suggested above. To create permanent alias, you have to add the relevant code (above code for ls -l alias) to ~/.bashrc file and also make sure to logout and login back for the changes to be taken into effect.

That’s all for now. I would like to know if you were aware of lolcat previously? Did you like the post? And suggestion and feedback is welcome in the comment section below. Like and share us and help us get spread.

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16 thoughts on “Lolcat – A Command Line Tool to Output Rainbow Of Colors in Linux Terminal”

  1. I would really love it if my font stayed colorful I pipe lolcat through everything I can’t help it! The colors are so happy and vibrant does anybody know if there is an option in termux styles that may be similar? I didn’t tried all the options yet.


  2. I’m trying to get this to work at logon.

    In my file /etc/update-motd.d/00-header, I have a line that says:

    echo "Hello and welcome..." | /usr/games/lolcat

    And while it says, “Hello and welcome…” it is black.

    Yet when I manually run the script, it is colorful?

    Any idea why it’s not colorful at logon?

    I’m using Ubuntu 20.04

  3. Great article but on openSUSE, after you ‘wget’ from github, you will have to install the gems before thy can be used.

    Just type ‘cnf lolcat’ after pulling the gems from github and it will show where the files are found. You can go back to your home directory now using
    ‘cd ..’.

    After you’ve found location, type in ‘sudo zypper install ‘. Usually, the package looks like this ‘ruby2.1-rubygem-lolcat ‘.

    Then you can now test it with lolcat – h.


    • @Andrew,

      Yes, you can use any Linux command with lolcat as shown in few below examples:

      # ps | lolcat
      # date | lolcat
      # cal | lolcat
  4. I found it quite amusing to pipe fortune through cowsay and then through lolcat. For example:
    ” fortune | cowsay | lolcat ” came out as (In colour of course in the terminal)
    / This is the first age that’s paid much \
    | attention to the future, which is a |
    | little ironic since we may not have |
    | one. |
    | |
    \ — Arthur Clarke /
    \ ^__^
    \ (oo)\_______
    (__)\ )\/\
    ||—-w |
    || ||

    • Yes I can add the pipe. I know how to do that. I’m asking is there a way to make it happen automatically so that it’s not needed to manually add the pipe

      • Edit aliases eg: alias teste = ‘figlet teste | lolcat ‘ to edit the aliases of a vim (or gedit) eg: vim $ HOME / .bashrc.
        it will be all your aliases

  5. Just a toy – Certainly not something you want or even need in a production system – But I’m sure you all knew that!

    • Dear Anthony,
      Its very pleasing to get such kind of appreciation.
      Thanks for your good words.
      Keep Connected!


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