← Back to posts

An ode to curl

Matt Schrage

curl is an open-source tool and library for transferring data with URLs.

First released in 1998, curl is not that old by UNIX standards, but still... how many programs have a shelf-life that can be measured in decades, rather than sprints? Not that many.

curl runs everywhere. It is as close to ubiquitous as software can be. If you’ve used a device that connects to the internet anytime in the last two decades, chances are you’ve unknowingly been using curl. It is bundled inside of “thousands of software applications in over ten billion installations”. Oh, and it recently went to Mars.

And, if you’re a software engineer, you’ve probably used it directly from the command line to download a file or to test out a new API.

Here are a few cool things you probably didn’t know you can do with curl...


Run curl wttr.in/SanFrancisco to check the weather without leaving the command line.


Run curl ipinfo.io to check information about your IP address.


Run curl cheat.sh/git to look up CLI tools and receive user-friendly instructions on how to use them


Encode arbitrary URLs as a QR code. For example, run curl qrenco.de/fig.io


To see a dancing party parrot animation in your terminal, run curl parrot.live


For infinite nyan cat animation, run curl ascii.live/nyan.


Crypto prices without leaving the terminal by running curl rate.sx


To look up definitions for a word, run curl 'dict.org/d:word'

PS. If you like doing cool stuff in the terminal, you should try Fig! 😊

Thanks to Daniel Stenberg for building and maintaining curl and to all of creators of these curl-exclusive websites.