TALK(1) BSD General Commands Manual TALK(1)
talk -- talk to another user
talk person [-x] [ttyname]
Talk is a visual communication program which copies lines from your terminal to that of
person If you wish to talk to someone on your own machine, then person is just the per-
son's login name. If you wish to talk to a user on another host, then person is of
the form 'user@host' ( or 'host.user' or 'host!user' or 'host:user' ).
-x If you wish to talk to a user who has dot character in username, the -x argument
will force 'user@host' form of the person and talk will take dots as part of user
ttyname If you wish to talk to a user who is logged in more than once, the ttyname argument
may be used to indicate the appropriate terminal name, where ttyname is of the form
'ttyXX' or 'pts/X'.
When first called, talk contacts the talk daemon on the other user's machine, which sends
Message from TalkDaemon@his_machine...
talk: connection requested by your_name@your_machine.
talk: respond with: talk your_name@your_machine
to that user. At this point, he then replies by typing
It doesn't matter from which machine the recipient replies, as long as his login name is the
same. Once communication is established, the two parties may type simultaneously; their
output will appear in separate windows. Typing control-L (^L) will cause the screen to be
reprinted. The erase, kill line, and word erase characters (normally ^H, ^U, and ^W respec-
tively) will behave normally. To exit, just type the interrupt character (normally ^C);
talk then moves the cursor to the bottom of the screen and restores the terminal to its pre-
As of netkit-ntalk 0.15 talk supports scrollback; use esc-p and esc-n to scroll your window,
and ctrl-p and ctrl-n to scroll the other window. These keys are now opposite from the way
they were in 0.16; while this will probably be confusing at first, the rationale is that the
key combinations with escape are harder to type and should therefore be used to scroll one's
own screen, since one needs to do that much less often.
If you do not want to receive talk requests, you may block them using the mesg(1) command.
By default, talk requests are normally not blocked. Certain commands, in particular
nroff(1), pine(1), and pr(1), may block messages temporarily in order to prevent messy out-
/etc/hosts to find the recipient's machine
/var/run/utmp to find the recipient's tty
mail(1), mesg(1), who(1), write(1), talkd(8)
The protocol used to communicate with the talk daemon is braindead.
Also, the version of talk(1) released with 4.2BSD uses a different and even more braindead
protocol that is completely incompatible. Some vendor Unixes (particularly those from Sun)
have been found to use this old protocol.
Old versions of talk may have trouble running on machines with more than one IP address,
such as machines with dynamic SLIP or PPP connections. This problem is fixed as of netkit-
ntalk 0.11, but may affect people you are trying to communicate with.
The talk command appeared in 4.2BSD.
Linux NetKit (0.17) November 24, 1999 Linux NetKit (0.17)