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I would like to be able to print to the terminal of a computer on a different network (this should work bilaterally). I understand that this should be possible by using the command ntalk, but I have not been able to figure out how.

As I understand it, a way to do that would be to set up a restricted shell for a ssh user which would allow that user to print in the terminal, while not being able execute any other commands, so solutions for that would also be appreciated (as well as any other for that matter).

I'm just looking for a low security risk way to establish a point to point chat similar to IRC and with a minimal requirement to instal or configure additional software if OS X ships with something that can work.

Can ntalk work between another computer and Mac OS X?

  • Do you want to have a chat session between two computers or do you just want a message to be displayed? – Allan Apr 13 '16 at 1:24
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It's unclear what you really mean with communicate!

If you want to have a chat-like communication enable ntalk on both hosts:

sudo launchctl load -w com.apple.ntalk

Then enter

talk user@host

to open a chat session.

To enable the chat session on the other side just enter the displayed command e.g.

talk otheruser@otherhost

This might fail if the system versions of the two hosts are different.


To "mirror" a session/attach your Terminal window to another one on a different host use screen:

On host1/user1 enter

screen -S test #test is the sessionname and can be chosen more or less freely

On host2/user2 enter:

ssh -t user1@host1 screen -x test #use the sessionname from above

User1's input will be visible in user2's shell but is unable to execute anything on host2. User2 can execute commands on host1. Both users see all commands entered in both "shells".

Screen is a really mighty tool. Please consult man screen for further informations.

  • I tried to steer the question to talk with an edit and reopening it, @HannesAndersson You should be able to initiate talk from OS X to another computer with just knowing the user name and the remote computer name or IP address instead of whatever.com in talk user@wherever.com - the ntalk tells your Mac to listen to and respond to incoming requests... – bmike Apr 13 '16 at 17:17
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You can ssh into another Mac by typing into the terminal:

ssh [ip address of other mac]

When prompted type in the username and password. You should be able to connect to the terminal of the other Mac.

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    Yea but the question was how to enable printing in terminal while restricting other actions – Hannes Andersson Apr 12 '16 at 23:03
  • I don't think that that is possible – JMB1304 Apr 12 '16 at 23:04
  • OK, thanks. There should be some solution to get the desired result though. – Hannes Andersson Apr 12 '16 at 23:05
  • It's probably best to leave the ssh/screen off this if the OP just wants to chat back and forth. Talk is installed and it's the tool for the job as I see the root need of this Q/A. – bmike Apr 13 '16 at 17:18

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