“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing” -Dale Carnegie

*nix the Workhorse of MLOps

Welcome to 2024 data delvers! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season! As we enter into the new year I’d like wanted to take some time to talk about things that make my day to day as a developer fun! As I hope to get into in future delves, for many reasons I prefer a *nix (Unix or Linux) based environment for doing development. Many people use MacOS as their *nix environment of choice, however my preferred method of achieving this in recent years has been the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). It is super easy to set up on any modern windows machine, integrates very nicely with my IDE of choice, Visual Studio Code, and avoids many of the dangers associated with partitioning your hard drive to dual-boot your machine with multiple operating systems. As a bonus, when working with cloud providers you are almost always deploying your model on a Linux server, so mirroring that same environment on your dev machine makes everything that much smoother.

Importantly for our delve today, WSL provides a full bash shell to interact with the OS. Over the years many a Linux developer has created fun and useful utilities to use within a shell, some of which I’d like to share with you today!

Text-Based Utilities

The following utilities work by printing text out to your terminal.

  • cmatrix - This has long been a staple of my dev machines, if you ever wanted to feel like a hacker in “The Matrix”, this utility will simulate the iconic terminal screens from the film.

    cmatrix screencast

  • cbonsai - In a similar vein to cmatrix, cbonsai procedurally generates a bonsai tree within your terminal.


  • fortune - A very old, but still fun utility. Fortune prints a random fortune every time it is executed.

      $ fortune
      Q:      Why was Stonehenge abandoned?
      A:      It wasn't IBM compatible.  
  • cowsay - Another old, but very fun utility. Cowsay allows you to make an ascii art cow (or other animal) say a phrase of your choice.

      $ cowsay Hello world!
      < Hello world! >
              \   ^__^
               \  (oo)\_______
                  (__)\       )\/\
                      ||----w |
                      ||     ||

    For more fun you can pipe fortune into cowsay to get your animal to give you a random fortune.

      $ fortune | cowsay -f tux
      / Big book, big bore. \
      |                     |
      \ -- Callimachus      /
             |o_o |
             |:_/ |
            //   \ \
           (|     | )
          /'\_   _/`\
    • wttr.in - Allows you to get a weather report directly in your terminal.
      $ curl wttr.in
      Weather for City: Paris, France
           \   /     Clear
            .-.      10 – 11 °C
         ― (   ) ―   ↑ 11 km/h
            `-’      10 km
           /   \     0.0 mm

For each of these utilities (except cmatrix!), you can add them to the Message of the Day (motd) shown when you first log in to your shell by following these steps:

Note: This assumes you are using the Ubuntu distribution in WSL.

  1. Navigate to /etc/update-motd.d
  2. Create a file called 01-custom-message
  3. Paste any commands you like to be run in this file and save it.
     #!/usr/bin/env bash
     fortune | cowsay -f tux
  4. Make the file executable $ sudo chmod +x 01-custom-message

Now when you log into your machine you’ll get your own custom message!

Welcome to Ubuntu 22.04.3 LTS (GNU/Linux x86_64)
< Today is what happened to yesterday. >
       |o_o |
       |:_/ |
      //   \ \
     (|     | )
    /'\_   _/`\

 * Documentation:  https://help.ubuntu.com
 * Management:     https://landscape.canonical.com
 * Support:        https://ubuntu.com/advantage

Audio Visualizer Utilities

Another fun category of shell utilities are audio visualizers. I find these really fun to use when playing a music playlist and wanted to have some kind of display for the music. The two utilities I use for this are:

  • cava - Very easy to install and set up, runs on pretty much anything, and does exactly what it says it does, providing a configurable audio spectrum visualizer.


  • cli-visualizer - This one takes a bit more effort to set up but provides many fancy audio visualizations such as lorenz visualizations.


Note: These won’t work within WSL when playing audio on Windows, but work great if you install a browser like Chrome into WSL and play audio through that.

System Information Utilities

Finally, there’s a few utilities I like to use to print info about by system. These are:

  • neofetch - Prints out basic system information in a nice format.


  • hwinfo - Allows you to query for very specific system information.

      $ hwinfo --short --disk --cdrom
          /dev/sda             WDC WD10EARS-00Y
          /dev/sdb             ST2000DM001-1CH1
          /dev/sr0             PLDS DVD+-RW DS-8ABSH


Hopefully you find some of these utilities fun and make working in your *nix environment of choice that much better! As we enter the new year stay tuned for more delves into more practical utilities for MLOps workflows!

Delve Data

  • A *nix (MacOS or Linux) environment is the preferred development environment for MLOps.
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a good option for getting this type of environment set up on a Windows machine.
  • There are a number of fun shell utilities that you can install in these environments!