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Dat shell. Open a remote dat and explore with cd, ls, etc.

dat-shell is part of the dat Peer-to-Peer universe. It's useful to explore remote dats by their key without having to download them. Think of it as bash for dats, letting you cd, ls and cp at will.

dat-shell screencast


$ npm install --global dat-shell


You'll need node 8.9.1 (LTS) or above. I suggest using n-install to install the n node version manager.

You'll probably need git too since we're using my (temporary) fork of glob to support hyperdrives (dat archives), and that fork is only available on github and not (yet) on npm. See below to help merge my glob fork.


$ dat-shell <dat-key> # dat-key is optionnal

For example, you can access this readme and scripts at: dat://ae8c136e04a66451c79325681d4593bc3ce30c8005dfa5fc6001e0898ec4573a

$ dat-shell dat://ae8c136e04a66451c79325681d4593bc3ce30c8005dfa5fc6001e0898ec4573a
# or
$ dat-shell ae8c136e04a66451c79325681d4593bc3ce30c8005dfa5fc6001e0898ec4573a
# or
$ dat-shell dat://dat-shell-millette.hashbase.io/

You might wonder about dat://dat-shell-millette.hashbase.io/ but it's perfectly valid since the hostname maps to the ae8c...573a key through https discovery.


  • help: List of commands and their descriptions.
  • .help: Internal repl commands.
  • ln: Pseudo symbolic link (mkfifo).
  • cp: Copy a file from remote dat to local filesystem.
  • cat: View a file (concatenate).
  • ls: List files.
  • file: Detect mimetype.
  • view: Generic view command (text, markdown, html, etc.).
  • sl: Train yourself to avoid typos.
  • cd: Change directory.
  • pwd: Output current working directory.
  • dat: dat -c to close; dat to open; dat to output current key.
  • state: Output current state.
  • version: Current dat-shell version.
  • exit or quit: Exit dat-shell (or CTRL-D).


ln is a bit weird, not sure how useful it's going to be. As it's currently implemented, ln creates a fifo, writes the specified remote file (in dat) to the fifo and waits for the user to read the fifo before closing and removing it.

For instance, inside dat-shell, you can do:

ln readme.md ~/tmp-readme.md # ~/tmp-readme.md will be overwritten with our temporary fifo

And in another terminal (bash, etc.):

cat ~/tmp-readme.md # or tail, cp, etc.

You can't currently ln a video file and play it with vlc or mplayer unfortunately.


The cli now uses update-notifier to let the user know about updates to this program.

Users have the ability to opt-out of the update notifier by changing the optOut property to true in ~/.config/configstore/update-notifier-dat-shell.json. The path is available in notifier.config.path.

Users can also opt-out by setting the environment variable NO_UPDATE_NOTIFIER with any value or by using the --no-update-notifier flag on a per run basis.

To upgrade, simply

$ npm install --global dat-shell


Needless to say, I'm 100% open to contributions. Unit tests are coming soon, but for now make sure to follow the StandardJS coding style (no semi-colons, etc). Run either yarn lint or npm run lint to verify.


There's lots to do, classified here in bugs and features.

I should probably move most of the items below to GitHub issues and establish a roadmap.

Merge glob

There's an issue on glob to allow other fs implementations. This allows glob to work on dat archives (and the hyperdrive beneath).



  • issue#7 Add file autocompletion
  • issue#8 Add text browser mode (à la lynx)
  • issue#9 Enable usage as: dat-shell KEY ls (non-interactive)
  • issue#10 Browse versions (history)
  • issue#12 Add status bar (show when files are updated, version, etc.)
  • issue#13 Unit tests, travis, coveralls
  • issue#14 Enumerate hosts
  • issue#15 Improve args quoting (à la bash)
  • Add more command
  • Add tail command
  • Add tree command
  • Improve ls handling (arguments, long version, etc.)
  • Colors
  • Make all commands async (promises)
  • Improve user responses
  • Make prompt configurable (à la bash)
  • Make statusbar configurable
  • Gemnasium badge
  • Support plugins
  • Add debugging options and output
  • Evaluate shelljs for integration
  • Evaluate cash for integration
  • Evaluate vorpal for integration
  • Evaluate nsh for integration
  • Evaluate coreutils for integration
  • Evaluate bashful for integration
  • Add bookmark support (compatible with beaker, hopefully)
  • Make sure it works cross-platform (posix, windows)
  • Package self-contained binary with pkg
  • "Implement" standard-readme

Optimizations (speed or size)

  • Replace marked-terminal and update-notifier with smaller equivalents

Ideas from #dat on freenode (IRC)

  • creationix: would be cool to have the ability to run scripts in dat-shell
  • creationix: pluggable vms for running scripts, scripts could list dependencies via dat urls, maybe even load native vm code from dats
  • scriptjs: Would be nice if the licence for dat-shell was aligned with the dat ecosystem MIT please

Related projects

Maybe related

See features above.


AGPL-v3 © 2017 Robin Millette

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