Tip of the trade: fbida, the Console Image Viewer

That's right, console image viewer: No X Windows required. Why would you want a console image viewer, you ask? Well, why wouldn't you? The Linux framebuffer has substantial graphics support, including support for different fonts and display resolutions. It's a universal hardware-independent graphical layer that you have likely already seen in action. Most Linux installers use the framebuffer on a text installation as well as to display logos at boot. fbida is the melding of two programs -- fbi and ida. Fbi displays console images, and ida runs on X Window.

Fbida melds two programs, fbi (frame-buffer imageviewer) and ida. fbi displays console images, and ida runs on X Windows. They share common image-decoding libraries, so the developer merged the two apps to save on doing everything twice.

Fbida comes with most Linux distributions. On Fedora it comes in two packages, fbida and fbida-ida. On Debian it's fbi and ida. Ida is not needed for console use.

Using fbida is easy. Just hit Ctrl+Alt+F2 to switch to a console and run it like this:

$ fbi filename
If you get the error "can handle only packed pixel frame buffers," which is quite possibly one of the most uninformative error messages of all time, simply pass in a vga parameter at boot. GRUB users add it to the end of the kernel line in /boot/grub/menu.lst. LILO users add "append=".

How do you know what to use? Refer to Section 5.3 in the Framebuffer Howto. For example, to get 1024x768x16 bits, GRUB looks like this:

kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.15-23-386 root=/dev/hda1 ro quiet splash vga=0x314
fbi will play a slideshow. Change to a directory full of images, then run:

$ fbi *
You can zoom in, zoom out, and scroll up, down, and sideways. You can also configure your desired options permanently in ~/.fbirc. man fbi tells all.

This article was originally published on Jun 13, 2006
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