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 ter-
minal to that of another user.
person If you wish to talk to someone on your own machine, then person
is just the person's login name. If you wish to talk to a user
on another host, then person is of the form 'user@host' ( or
'user.host' or 'user!host' or 'user:host' ).
-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 name.
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 the message
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
respectively) 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 previous state.
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 combi-
nations 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 output.
/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 pro-
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)