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util.gem - General Bash Utilities

See the ProfileGem project for installation instructions.

This gem contains several functions and aliases considered (by the author) to be generally useful. By design the functionality in this gem are entirely additive, meaning nothing in your current environment should be changed by including these utilities. For most users there's no harm in including this gem even if you don't intend to use any of its features.

Note: while most vanilla shell environments will not conflict with the names used by this gem, it's impossible to guarantee the names chosen won't conflict with some other application or utility. If a name used here collides with a common utility please file a bug.

Key Features

See the associated files (,, etc.) for a complete list of functionality provided.


  • clipboard accesses the system clipboard cross-platform (Linux, OSX, and Cygwin currently). Supports both setting the clipboard (via stdin) and reading from it.

    Writes the output of my_command to the clipboard:

    $ my_command | clipboard

    Pipes the current clipboard contents into another_command

    $ clipboard | another_command

  • open opens the argument in the system-associated GUI application such as an image viewer or word processor. Intended to replicates the OSX open command, currently supported on Linux and Cygwin.

  • dirsize and diskspace - the former takes a directory as an argument and prints its size, the latter prints the available and total disk space. Both use a human-readable format.

  • sortc sorts and counts the unique lines piped to stdin, and orders them from most to least common.


  • quiet_success runs a command, suppressing its output unless the process fails. Useful for noisy commands that are only important when they fail, such as some unit testing utilities.

  • emailme takes a command and executes it, emailing you when it's done. Relies on sendmail being configured correctly, and reads the EMAIL environment variable to determine where to send to.

  • highlight highlights matched keywords in input passed to stdin, e.g. noisy_command | highlight ERROR

  • cdtmp creates a new directory under /tmp and cds to it.

  • screens prints a list of currently open screen sessions, and screenopen opens an existing screen session (or creates a new one) in a user-friendly way. Power-users will prefer sticking with screen or their own custom aliases, but screenopen gives lay-users easy access to screen's key functionality - detachable shell sessions.

  • gitsyncfork syncs a Git repository with its upstream master. Useful for pulling in updates to a forked GitHub repo.

  • backoff basic implementation of exponential backoff for shell commands.

  • wait_ext blocks until the PIDs passed as arguments are finished. Useful for waiting for commands running in other terminals.

    $ long_running_command & wait # prints the PID

    $ wait_ext PID && delayed_command

  • wait_port blocks until the ports passed as arguments are listening for requests. Useful for running a command once a service comes online, e.g.

    $ wait_port 1234 && send_request_to 1234


  • Displays the names of any open screen sessions when a new shell is launched.

Copyright and License

Copyright 2016-2017 Michael Diamond

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see


Common utilities for interactive shell sessions, distributed as a ProfileGem gem.








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