What is Ncurses?

Ncurses a program for POSIX-compliant operating systems (Linux, Unix, BSD, etc) that is designed to provide a text-based visual interface for a variety of tools. Essentially, programs that rely on ncurses can display GUI-like interfaces within a terminal emulator that support keyboard and even mouse navigation just as a true GUI program would.

Some of the advantages of ncurses include:

  • the ability to provide users with a menu-driven interface
  • easier selecting of options using check-boxes, multiple sub-menus, and even text input
  • it may appear more user-friendly to users who are accustomed to graphical interfaces

Programs that use ncurses include:

  • GNU Midnight Commander – a visual file manager
  • Aptitude – a visual frontend for the APT package management tool used in Debian and other operating systems

As ncurses-based programs often serve as frontends for programs with actual command line interfaces (CLI), it may be a good idea to still learn how to use the CLI-based versions. In general, however, ncurses can make your day-to-day server management easier, and that is always a good thing.