This is a guide to getting started with Hacknet. If you don’t have any experience with using DOS or command terminal on your own computer, the game can be very difficult to get into, and some of the wording is confusing to beginners. This guide will run you through how to do the most common tasks, what your major commands do, and how to use your terminal.
This is not a level walkthrough. Part of the fun of the game is figuring out how to use your skills to solve the contract!
User Interface – What am I looking at?
FYI – this guide is very unfinished. just thought I’d publish what I have to see if it helps anyone 🙂
So, you picked up the game, made a user account, booted into your computer, maybe did the tutorial and first few missions, but aren’t sure what you’re looking at or what to do? This is the guide for you!
At first, the amount of commands available to you can be overwhelming, but you will quickly memorise all of them just by repetitive usage.
Let’s start with what your screen looks like.
UI – a primer
This is what your computer should look like at the beginning of the game. Here I’m reading emails. Keep in mind that not all of the screenshots are going to have the same layout or colours – later on in the game you can change your visual theme, so don’t get confused if images suddenly have things laid out differently than as seen here.
(By the way, UI is your User Interface. The stuff you click on and that can have pictures in it. So if I say UI or GUI [graphical user interface] I’m referring to the stuff on the screen that is not the terminal/console)
The netMap on the bottom of the screen lists all of the nodes you’re aware of. A node is any fixed IP address that you can connect to. It can be a server for a company or individual, a personal computer, a mobile phone, tablet or any other kind of device that can connect to the internet.
In the top-left corner is your RAM usage. This is the amount of processing memory your computer is currently using, mostly through active programs. Ideally, you should keep your RAM usage as low as possible, by closing notes you don’t need. If you’re using too much RAM, you can’t run certain programs until others finish, which wastes time.
In the left sidebar are your currently-running programs. Here I just have some notes open from Bit’s tutorial emails. Because notes use up your RAM, if you’re in a later mission where you need to use a lot ot programs, I personally recommend playing in a window and having a Notepad document open to enter things like passwords, IP addresses, and commands there. It’s a bit cheaty, but it works. While you’re getting used to the game, the ingame notes will work fine.
On the rightmost side of this image is your terminal. 99% of your commands will be input here. A lot of beginning missions will have you do most of the work through a graphical interface, instead of the terminal, but don’t get too comfortable. It’s very important that you learn to use the terminal early and often. I’ll cover how to use the terminal in the next section. In the meantime, while you’re clicking around, watch the terminal move and see that it’s still inputting commands as if you were doing so through the terminal, while you’re using the graphical interface. This is how a computer UI works in real life as well – the graphical UI masks the engine working behind the scenes. If this confuses you, just remember that everything you click on and do without using the terminal, has a direct and equal way to do the same thing with the terminal.
An example netMap using the white CSEC skin
The green icon on this map is your home node, the computer you’re using.
Nodes with a circle moving around them are where you can accept missions. Nodes with a star inside them are asset servers, where you can find important assets for your missions.
Red nodes are the node you’re connected to if you haven’t cracked or have admin access for it yet. (Depending on your skin, this may be a different colour.) White lines show nodes that are connected to one another, which you’ve found using the scan function.
Remember how I said there are different UI themes in the game? This one I’m using now I’ll stick to for the remainder of the guide. That’s why the nodes are different colours than in the first image, because I’m using a different user theme than the one you start the game with. Don’t panic!
Email links and notes
The + icons as seen at the bottom of the email here are links to external files, notes, account details, or nodes. Clicking on them will open a note, as seen with the ‘quick reference guide’ on the left, add a node to your map, or add account details to your save. If you have a lot of nodes on your map, clicking the link again will highlight that one, so you can navigate to it easily.
External UI – Options and saving
The top-left corner has your in-game options (gear wheel), save (floppy disk) and exit game (X) functions. This is basically what the Escape or menu button would do in most other games. The game does autosave at certain story checkpoints, but these points are few. If you’re not confident in your abilities, be sure to save often. Closing the game, either through the cross or hard closing the application, does seem to save progress automatically, but I’m not entirely sure how it works, so it’s best to manually save when you’re about to close the game.
Using the Terminal – Part 1: File Navigation
Let’s run through how to navigate files, starting with your home node. As aforementioned, all of the basic functions that can be done through the UI have an equal way to do so through the terminal. Take a look at the terminal in this image.
I clicked on the home node through the map, but the terminal displays the ‘connect’ command as if I had typed it in. (don’t worry – this is not your real IP)
Next, click ‘View Filesystem’ – you will notice that the terminal displays this as ‘ls’ (But you can also use ‘dir’). Either ‘ls’ or ‘dir’ will display the contents of your current folder in the terminal. To remember these, ‘dir’ is short for directory, and ‘ls’ is short for ‘list’, or you could remember it easier as ‘list system’.
Here we can see it is displaying all the subfolders available in my top level folder, and you can see this mirrored in the UI. – :home, :log etc are shown as /home and /log in the UI.
Now I’ve clicked on the ‘home’ directory in the UI. You can see that the terminal reflects this by saying ‘cd home’. CD stands for Change Directory, and can be used to navigate to a sub-folder.
(I’ve blacked out some of the file names here for spoilers.) In this case, ‘cd home’ changed the active directory, that is, the one we have open, to ‘home’.
You can directly click on and read any text files – that’s .txt, .doc or .docx, etc.
You can press the <- button next to the name of the filesystem to go up a level, that is, go to the previous folder. When you do this, note that the terminal displays this as ‘cd ..’ This is the command to go up a level in the terminal.
You can also enter any subfolders the same way, by clicking on them or typing ‘cd <folder name>’ in the terminal. These are displayed with a forward slash next to them in the UI, or you can pull up the whole file list in the terminal with ls or dir, as you remember. Play around with entering your subfolders and reading whatever text you have there – by default it’ll be a bunch of funny text logs from bash.org – [bash.org] .
Now you know how to navigate folders. Let’s move on to what we can do in these folders.
Using the Terminal, Part 2: File Management
If your ‘Notes’ program isn’t open, type ‘notes’ into your terminal to run it. It’ll open up all your notes. You can then add notes with the + key. It does use up RAM, so try not to keep too many notes in there. If you want to, you can break the fourth wall and put extra notes in a Notepad document on your real computer outside the game.
If ever you need to delete a file, the command you need is ‘rm’, for ‘remove’. Put in ‘rm’ and the name of the file you want. Unlike in Uplink, it seems that you don’t need to remove all your logs after hacking a server, but it’s good practice. If you want to delete everything in a folder, navigate to it and then type ‘rm *’ – the * is a wildcard, which in this context means ‘everything’.
Here I’ve chosen to delete all my logs. I’ve done this by navigating to my ‘logs’ folder (instead of ‘home’) and putting in ‘rm *’.
Using the Terminal, part 3: Hacking a server
Once you have completed the mission that gives you access to the hackers’ fileserver and downloaded your hacking tools, it’s time to hack a server. Keep in mind that every server kind of works in the same way, but with more layers of complexity.
Go to a server and select ‘probe filesystem’ to see what you need to hack in. The number of ‘ports required’ listed on each server and red banners when you do this indicate how many different programs you’ll need to use. You will also run into firewalls and proxies.
Simple server – two ports
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