Zac Anger's Blog

Portable Environments With Bash


Tags: bash

I recently switched from st to xterm on my Linux machines, and I also have a Mac and a Windows machine with WSL. st and allow for copy-pasting using fairly intuitive keyboard shortcuts, but I didn't know what the equivalent was for xterm. Fortunately, it doesn't matter, because I have bash aliases that do what I need to do. The nice thing about having well-developed config files ("dotfiles") is that you may not even need to learn all the new shortcuts and clicking options for new software, you can just use what you already have. In the case of copying and pasting, here's what's in my dotfiles:

if [[ $(uname) == 'Darwin' ]]; then
  alias co='pbcopy'
  alias pa='pbpaste'
  alias clc='echo -n | co'
  alias co='xclip -selection clipboard'
  alias pa='xclip -selection clipboard -o'
  alias clc='echo -n | co && echo -n | xclip -selection primary'

Usage is something like this:

# copy some text. let's say you're trying to use youtube-dl to
# download a video, and you put the youtube URL on your clipboard
youtube-dl $(pa)

# to put something on the clipboard, just pipe it through:
echo foo | co

I thought this was handy enough to share, particularly from the standpoint of a philosophy for working with your computers: you could spend lots of time reading the manpages for each new app you run into, or you could handle enough of the edge-cases to get by in your own config and never have to worry about it.

Happy holidays!