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!)

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