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Using liberty-minded opensource tools, and using them well

Conky rotating TODO.txt

Make the 'TODO' section of my conky rotate categories in order to save desktop space and do something cool with linux sysutils and shell scripts.

Text file

I’m gunna try this with a text file, because that’s the best idea that I’ve got at this time. The text file will be at ~/.conky/rotateconkytodo.txt. It will have to contain the categories (the ones with the + (plus) sign before them), and will have to alphabetize them. That could probably work with a shell script.

If I could make an ENV VAR to go along with that, I could use that to store the number of the incarnation of the rotation and have that particular line read from the list. That would make more sense than storing the variable in the text file.

while read line

while read line; do
	some thing

This. Is. Awesome. This is why I love linux.

Too bad grep already reads line by line. Now THAT is why I freakin love linux. (Well, in this case it really IS more adaquate to say GNU/Linux…)

Using grep

cat ~/todo.txt | grep -o "+[[:alpha:]]*[[:space:]]" >>

This will print out all of the categories. Now to deduplicate them…


This one uses to of the “small and powerful” shell utilities - sort and uniq.

sort categories.txt | uniq > rotatetodo.txt

uniq only removes duplicate files if they are adjacent to each other, so the files have to be put through sort first, and then a very nice-looking .txt file is produced.

I tried using the same filename, but apparently that is illegal, because I ended up with a blank file. So none of that.

Removing the +

There is no need to, it works perfectly fine leaving that in.

Making sure we’re getting a new category

So there’s a bit more to this script than some fancy-schmancy shell utils being put to good use. I’m going to set an environment variable that is relatively unique, and use a modulus of the number of lines in the sorted/uniq’d text file to rotate through the categories.

rotation=`date +%M`
numofcats=$(cat ~/.conky/rotatetodo.txt | wc -l)
let "v = rotation % numofcats"

Use the minute that the script was run in to generate the category. The easiest way now is to run this script once a minute. The first line here could obviously be modified to have a sample of the seconds and minutes run and converted into minutes in decimal form, but that’s way too much for the time being, and conky doesn’t need to be refreshed that much. Hell, it could be every two, five, or ten minutes if you want. Just adjust the values of rotation so they increase linearily.

Don’t ask me why I used a “v”, it wouldn’t get outta my head. That ultimately stores the number category that is to listed.

The cats in numofcats stands for categories. I’m a dog person.

On a personal note, wc -l is a cool function of wc (word count) that I was previously unaware of to count lines in a file.

Next we gotta do something with the “v”

So in the man page for the awk command it states,

NR – current record number in the total input stream.

So wtf is a record number? I guess that lets us get the line number, because this works:

current=$(awk "NR==${v}+1" ~/.conky/rotatetodo.txt)

The +1 is necessary; otherwise it starts at zero and displays ALL of the categories, and skips the last one in the rotation.

Output the command -Pd ~/.todo/config-conky ls $current

Short, sweet, to the point.

Run every conky refresh

Now that the script is pretty much constructed, I have to have it run every time that conky refreshes, so that I can set the refresh rate to half a minute, a minute, a day, whatever and have it come up with a new (the next) category each time. So, in .conky/conkyrc_TODO:

${execp ~/bin/}	

Then edit:

update_interval 60.0

Kick back and watch it run flawlessly.

If you ever find a need to wipe out a category entirely, or it just so happens that all the jobs are completed, and you don’t want that category to show up in conky, you’re in luck. All you have to do is add:

rm ~/.conky/rotatetodo.txt
rm ~/.conky/categories.txt

to the end of the executable, and it will generate brand new category files every time it’s called on to switch the display - aka it’s always up to date.

Extra Credit

Copy that script, but put the output aligned right after the TODO: that preceeds the todo list.