A linux caca story

The root cause

Here’s the thing, I was doing some cleaning in my computer’s home directory after solving some hacking challenge. To see what kind of files where still present I ran the command ta, which is aliased (in my system) to the following function.

ta () {
  tree -ah "$@" | lolcat;

It lists my files recursively, showing hidden files and putting some neat rainbow colors at the same time.


I took a look to the output and found the _cacache word. I’m still childish, and in French ‘caca’ means poop and cache can design a place to hide things. So the hidden poop thing got me curious. Do I have shit in my computer? If so, how much? What kind of poop do my current operating system possess?


So I ran the following command to inspect my system. To understand it, you can browse the manual with man find, but hey, I know you’re not here for that so here’s what it does!

  • sudo - SuperUserDo, executes the command as a superuser
  • find - Pretty explicit, find all the files
  • / - From the root of my filesystem, so including every possible places
  • xdev - Only walk my filesystem, not mounted fs
  • iname - Find by name, case insensitive
  • “*caca*” - Contains the word caca without constraint on the beginning nor end

    sudo find / -xdev -iname "*caca*"

I stripped the result that were not really interesting, here’s the sum’up:


First finding

So, first line shows my google drive’s folder. The file extension tells us that it’s an image, so let’s use eog (eye of gnome)!

eog /DRIVE/perso/2015/arthur/caca_papillon.jpg


So this is one of my previous roommate, definitely not some poop. He was extremely tired after a party so I took advantage of the situation to make fun of him! è.é

Other findings

  • _cacache - Cached files in different home places, this is some user-specific cache that makes softwares start / run faster by keeping some assets locally.
  • /usr/share/ - Mostly read-only data, configuration examples, and code samples. Meh meh.
  • /usr/include/ - Code and headers. This is the kind of file that one can include in other programs to compile them.
  • /usr/lib/ - Compiled dynamic libraries that can be either linked during the compilation or loaded at runtime. Also some package-specific configuration files.
  • /usr/bin/ - Distribution specific linux programs… That’s our goldmine!

Goldmine exploitation

We have toys (binaries), so let’s have fun!
Description from the libcaca dev’s website:

libcaca is a graphics library that outputs text instead of pixels, so that it can work on older video cards or text terminals.




cacaview /DRIVE/perso/2018/Louka/avatar_square.png


One again, a huge thank you to Simon Martineau who drew my avatar! ^_^


Quick look to the man and the program, probably useful for the developers, but not much fun for us… Sigh

$ man caca-config
caca-config - script to get information about the installed version of libcaca

$ caca-config --help
Usage: caca-config [OPTIONS] [LIBRARIES]

$ caca-config --version


RTFM (Reat The Fancy Manual) -> Find the right fonts to use -> Boom, live clocks with funny fonts!
I’ve been to lazy to create a gif but trust me, it’s live! ;)


cacaplay & cacaserver

The first tool can be used to play .caca files. I won’t use it there but feel free to browse the web and send me your best .caca!
Please no poop pics. Just don’t.

The second one is meant to serve some caca animations. Differents clients can connect to it using telnet or netcat and enjoy these animations without having this software.


Last but not least, the demo for the best caca animations!

The license

Once more, the manual tells us:

cacademo is covered by the Do What the Fuck You Want to Public License (WTFPL). cacafire is covered by the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).

Crazy names, huh?
Still, these are perfectly valid licenses!

More information on how to choose yours here

As always, I hope that you had fun reading this article. Personally I’m always amazed to realize that really smart people spend a lot of time writing that kind of “useless” yet complex software, document it, contribute to it, makes it public, license it, and… Ship it in our distributions!

Next time you’ll find something odd, something bizarre, consider giving it some time, who knows what you could end up finding! ツ

I came here looking for shit, but unfortunately I only found gold! - Laluka 2019

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