Tech Tip: Create an Automatically Scrolling Reader

By combining three useful command-line tools (less, watch and xdotool) along with two xterm windows, you can create an automatically scrolling reader.

Say you have a good book in text-file form ('book.txt') that you just downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

Open one xterm and do the usual thing you do when you want to read that book with less:

$ less book.txt

Look at the first few characters in the title line of that xterm's window. (In mine, it was bzimmerly@zt, which is my user ID and the name of the machine I was working on.)

Open another xterm, issue this command, and watch (pun intended) the magic:

$ watch -n 1 xdotool search --name bzimmerly@zt key ctrl+m

The watch command will (every second) issue a "Return" (Ctrl-m) keystroke to the window that has "bzimmerly@zt" as a title, and it will stop only when you interrupt it with Ctrl-c! I think this is neato daddyo! (What can I say? I'm a child of the '60s!)



Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Scrolling Reader using tabs

Richard B's picture

Worked fine for me under using Ubuntu 10.10 (Meerkat), so I tried using tabs - one for the document, a second for the command. Start it then click on the document tab and scrolling starts. To pause it, click on the command tab which then receives (but ignores) the "Return"s. Click the document tab to resume lazy reading.

Note, however, that if you have another terminal window open with the same title line it will send to that.

Error opening terminal: xterm-256color

Travel Directory's picture

how do we go about installing the necessary terminfo files then?

hmmpf. all I get in the

Anonymous's picture

hmmpf. all I get in the second xterm is a ">"

Thanks for sharing

Mix Twist's picture

it looks cool to give a try will be back after making and experiment with this

One Click, Universal Protection: Implementing Centralized Security Policies on Linux Systems

As Linux continues to play an ever increasing role in corporate data centers and institutions, ensuring the integrity and protection of these systems must be a priority. With 60% of the world's websites and an increasing share of organization's mission-critical workloads running on Linux, failing to stop malware and other advanced threats on Linux can increasingly impact an organization's reputation and bottom line.

Learn More

Sponsored by Bit9

Linux Backup and Recovery Webinar

Most companies incorporate backup procedures for critical data, which can be restored quickly if a loss occurs. However, fewer companies are prepared for catastrophic system failures, in which they lose all data, the entire operating system, applications, settings, patches and more, reducing their system(s) to “bare metal.” After all, before data can be restored to a system, there must be a system to restore it to.

In this one hour webinar, learn how to enhance your existing backup strategies for better disaster recovery preparedness using Storix System Backup Administrator (SBAdmin), a highly flexible bare-metal recovery solution for UNIX and Linux systems.

Learn More

Sponsored by Storix