This article lists some experiences from working with Ubuntu on different projects.

Useful Ubuntu tips and tricks Image by @purlzbaum on Unsplash

1. Quickly open the terminal in Ubuntu

The shortcut key to do this is CTRL ALT T. Easy stuff!

2. Programmatically provide your version of Ubuntu

When downloading some packages, you need to provide your version of Ubuntu; you can do it programmatically, like this:

$(lsb_release -cs)

For example, if you’re running Ubuntu 20.04, the above command will return focal (as in Focal Fossa).

3. Programmatically get your logged-in username

Sometimes in some bash commands you need to print the username of the user that’s logged in when a command is ran.

For that, you can use $USER.

4. Programmatically provide more information about your Linux distribution

This one’s similar to the previous tip, but it gives us more info:

lsb_release -a

An example of a returned output:

No LSB modules are available.
Distributor ID:	Ubuntu
Description:	Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS
Release:	20.04
Codename:	focal

5. Quickly open another tab in bash

If you’ve got the bash window already open, to quickly open another tab in that same window, use this keyboard shortcut: CTRL SHIFT T

6. Install xclip to Ubuntu 20.04

First update apt-get:

sudo apt-get update -y

Next, install xclip:

sudo apt-get install -y xclip

That’s it, now you can type which xclip in the bash to verify that this program is now available:

which xclip

We’ll know that xclip is installed if something like this comes back:

/usr/bin/xclip

7. In Linux copy file contents and paste it in programatically

To copy and paste text programatically in Linux, we can use the xclip command we installed in the previous step.

Let’s say we want to copy a value from a variable called $FORMAT.

Now it’s a matter of doing the following:

echo -n $FORMAT | xclip

We now have the contents of the $FORMAT variable in our clipboard.

Now we can paste onto the screen what’s currently in the clipboard by running:

xclip clipboard -o

TO reiterate, we run these two to copy and paste:

echo -n $FORMAT | xclip
xclip clipboard -o

8. Use alias commands in Linux

Sometimes you have very long commands that would be a bit hard to type, plus it’s easy to misspell some long commands. There’s a simple solution to this issue, and that is: using aliases.

Here’s an example of how it works.

First, open the terminal, and type the following command:

nano ~/.bashrc

Now you can add another two lines to the .bashrc file, as follows:

alias pbcopy='xclip -selection clipboard'
alias pbpaste='xclip -selection clipboard -o'

The above two lines give us two “new” commands that we can use: pbcopy and pbpaste.

These two commands are used in Mac OSs, not in Linux. But if we’re used to the pbcopy and pbpaste commands, we can kind of emulate them like shown above.

We can even make aliases that use other aliases, like this:

alias cpspec='pbcopy < ~/Desktop/spec.txt'

For example, let’s say that we have a special file that we named spec.txt, and we want to copy the contents of this file using the pbcopy alias. Again, instead of typing the full command with the full path, we can simply use a short version, as alias - which we’ve called cpspec. So now all we have to do is just type:

cpspec

As an introductory exercise to using alias commands in Linux, a useful and easy-to-do exercise includes *making aliases to cd-ing into some nested folders. For example:

alias cddeep='cd ~/Desktop/this/folder/is/nested/very/deep/`

Now, instead of having to type the entire cd command with the full path, we can simply type:

cddeep

Aliases are a nice addition in your Linux toolbox, and a great productivity-boosting tool.

9. Run two commands in Linux but wait for the first to finish before the next one

This is a really newbie question, but still an important one.

The answer is very simple: We don’t have to wait.

We just specify one command, and then add && and we follow it up with the second command.

For example:

echo "first" && echo "second"