Open Source Musings


(Note: This post was first published at and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 International License.)

Correct spelling doesn’t seem to be very important to many people these days. There are, however, those of us for whom it is. Yes, I am one of those people.

While I’m not a spelling cop, misspelled words stick out when I encounter them. They hurt my eyes. They hurt my brain.

Any good text editor and, of course, any word processor packs a spelling checker. If you're working in plain text, you can go another route to check the spelling of your document: at the command line. How? With the help of a nifty utility called GNU Aspell (which I’ll be calling Aspell from here on in).

Aspell is fast, easy to use (yes, even for a command line tool!), and flexible. Let’s take a look at how to use it.


(Note: This post was originally published, in a slightly different form, at and appears here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.)

There are a number of utilities that enable you to view text files when you're at the command line. One of those utilities is more.

more is similar to another tool called less. The main difference between them is that more only allows you to move forward in a file.

While that may seem limiting, it has some features that are worth knowing about. Let's take a quick look at some of what more can do and how to use it.


Here's the latest in an irregular series of short posts that introduce a few Linux terminal tricks.

Where, on your computer, do you go to check a date? Probably the calendar on the toolbar of your desktop or in a calendar app or widget.

That's one way to do it. You can also check dates at the Linux command line. How? Using the cal command. There's nothing extra you need to install or configure, either — cal comes as standard kit with every distribution.

Let's take a quick look at the basics of using the cal command.


(Note: This article was originally published at and appears here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.)

There are great tools on the Linux desktop for taking screen captures, such as KSnapshot and Shutter. Even the simple utility that comes with the GNOME desktop does a pretty good job of capturing screens. But what if you rarely need to take screen captures? Or you use a Linux distribution without a built-in capture tool, or an older computer with limited resources?

Turn to the command line and a little utility called Scrot. It does a fine job of taking simple screen captures, and it includes a few features that might surprise you.

Let's take a peek at it.


For years, I've been saying or writing that you don't need to know how to use the command line to use Linux effectively. I've helped more than a few people over the years migrate to Linux, and none of them have cracked open a terminal window. Guess what? They're getting what they need to get done using graphical applications. And nothing else.

But here we are in 2022 and I'm still trying to break that myth. Over the years, and quite a few times in recent months, have tried to call me out over that. They've pointed to articles and blog posts written about the command line as proof to contrary. As proof that the command line is essential if you want to use Linux.

I don't deny that I use the command line — mainly to make some complicated tasks simple. That said, I'm definitely not a command line master. Far from it. I know just enough to be dangerous, to carry out a few tasks. At most, I spend 5% of my computing time in a terminal window.

That time isn't spent doing anything complex. So, what do I use the command line for? Here's most of what I do in a terminal window:

  • Read RSS feeds with newsboat.
  • Convert files using pandoc.
  • Publish a couple of websites using GitLab Pages.
  • Use three or four simple scripts (which I cobbled together through trial and a lot of error or which were written by people I know) to automate tasks — scripts like this one.

And not much more than that. Hardly the behaviour of a seasoned, hardened, deeply technical command line guru, is it?

Scott Nesbitt

#linux #cli #opinion

(Note: This post was first published, in a different form, at and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.)

How do you usually copy all or part of a text file when working on the Linux desktop? Chances are you open the file in a text editor, select all or just the text you want to copy, and paste it somewhere else.

That works. But you can do the job a bit more efficiently at the command line using the xclip utility. xclip provides a conduit between commands you run in a terminal window and the clipboard in a Linux graphical desktop environment.