Toilet and Figlet


We thought [Kristofer's] Tech Tip about using figlet with scripts was kind of fun. It’s a throwback to the days of logging onto a BBS and being greeted by a vertically scrolling ASCII art image that had been meticulously hand crafted (although a lot of the coolest stuff was actually ANSI art). No hand crafting here, just feed (or pipe) your text to figlet and it outputs the message in ASCII style letters.

When we went to try install this in Ubuntu, the toilet package was suggested. This one’s worth checking out too. It works in much the same way as figlet but uses extended characters and has a lot more color and font settings:


Give these packages a try and make character art cool again!


  1. Spadefinger says:

    Hmm… can’t say that I have a use for it as most of my scripting stays in the background, but it does remind me of the good old bbs days. I miss them occasionally, but I don’t miss the old 2400 bps modem (that I was still using until 1997…memories).

  2. jayson says:


  3. macegr says:

    Using-things-the-way-they-were-intended-a-day! :)

  4. yuppicide says:

    I do miss the old BBS days. I remember going from 300 baud to 1200 and thinking it was the best thing in the world. Then I went up to 2400.

    I used to draw ASCii and did some cartoons for a C64 run BBS out on Pennsylvania.

  5. John R says:

    Thanks for the “hack”, hacked gadget. For the newbies: there are many versions of this and similar programs running as CGI on the web so that you don’t need to install anything.

    From wikipedia:
    Initial release 1991 (as “newban”) / 1993 (figlet 2.0)

  6. John R says:

    wait, this is not hacked gadget…. coffee time.


  7. walt says:

    @yuppicide PA had some good BBS’s. I recall: The Enterprise (amiga), Fidonet, Crow… the list goes on and on.

  8. anon says:

    Can’t wait for the next hack a day article:

    How to install Windows XP

  9. Zymastorik says:


  10. I thought this was going to be some kind of hack for my toilet. Maybe increasing the throughput.

    ▌ ▌
    ▛▀▖▞▀▖▞▀▖▛▀▖ ▝▀▖▛▀▖▞▀▌ ▌ ▌▞▀▖▞▀▖
    ▙▄▘▌ ▌▌ ▌▌ ▌ ▞▀▌▌ ▌▌ ▌ ▐▐▐ ▛▀ ▛▀
    ▌ ▝▀ ▝▀ ▘ ▘ ▝▀▘▘ ▘▝▀▘ ▘▘ ▝▀▘▝▀▘

  11. Drone says:

    Easier way to display a fixed text file like this without installing any packages: Google for an online ASCII Text Art Converter. Save the online output as a text file. Then CAT the text file to to display on stdout. This is nice for command line boot splash or logon screens via serial console or SSH.

  12. Drone says:

    Here’s one of many online ASCII Text Art Converters:

    Chosen at random, no affiliation…

  13. jan says:

    hey in case we havent noticed mike is back..

    you are insulting us!

    hear me?

    ingnoring us wont help you!

  14. Awesome! Next I’ll assume Hack-a-day will cover using a email to pager gateway to tell you that your script is finished. Hack like it’s 1997!

    Oh wait, let me kill the momentum right now:

    echo “insert body of message here” | mutt -s “hey, your stupid script is finished!”

  15. Peter says:

    get a copy of and old program called ‘thedraw’ if you want do make quick ascii/ansi lettering, etc.

  16. isama says:

    thanx for something to make my /etc/motd.tail look good :D

  17. walt says:

    ┌─┐ ┌─┐ ┌─┐ ┌┬┐ ┌┬┐ │
    ├─┤ └─┐ │ │ │ │
    ┴ ┴ └─┘ └─┘ └┴┘ └┴┘ •

  18. Ian Chai says:

    In case you’re interested, the latest version of FIGlet, version 2.2.4, is now public with support for TOIlet tlf2 files.

    We just released it today :-)

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