Recently I had a flirtation with removing all the non-free software from my Debian installs. This didn’t last very long: I got annoyed that I couldn’t watch iplayer with gnash, and blodgett reminded me that I had a copy of Vista running in VirtualBox. Ooops.

However, upon reinstating the non-free repository I installed the vrms package to remind me of my failings. Blodgett suggested vrms might be better implemented as a popup character like clippy. But wait! Doesn’t xcowsay do something very similar?!

Well, xcowsay has a --cow-size option that lets you select from small, medium, and large cow images. This actually just looks for a cow_*.png file, so if we created a cow_rms.png


Here we see Richard Stallman arising from the Humber like some terrible sea monster about to wreak destruction on the propriety software industry of Hull.

If you want to use this yourself just install xcowsay, vrms, and grab these files:

  • cow_rms.png – save this in /usr/share/xcowsay or wherever xcowsay is installed.
  • vrms-xcowsay – a script to invoke xcowsay with the output of vrms. Don’t forget to chmod +x it!

The script is very simple and looks like this:

(printf "I SEE UR USIN NON-FREE SOFTWARES :-(;\n\n"; vrms) \
   | xcowsay --font=monospace --cow-size=rms $*

I’m thinking of adding a --image option to xcowsay 1.2 to make things like this easier.


UPDATE: xcowsay 1.2 now supports this via the --image option.