Smarter way to use df on GNU/Linux

To hide all the cruft, you can exclude the filesystem types. I learned df on AIX UNIX, so I never bothered to read the man page for gnu df.

df -PBM -xtmpfs -xdevtmpfs



xfconf-query save and load from file

xfconf-query load from file


The wonderful xfce desktop environment provides a mechanism to inspect and modify your settings, similar to dconf. This tool is named xfconf-query, and it allows you to list and modify entries one at a time. Unfortunately, it does not provide a way to export to a file and import, the way dconf does (with standard redirection).

Save settings to file
For xfce, you can display the settings by specifying the channel:

xfconf-query -c thunar -lv

#place sample output here

You can save this to a file with output redirection, but you won’t be able to load this very easily from such a file.

To get the settings in a nicer format for saving to a text file, use this oneliner:

xfconf-query -l | sed -r -e '/Channels:/d' | while read line; do xfconf-query -lv -c "${line}" | sed -r -e "s/^/${line} /"; done > my-settings.xfconf

#place sample output here

xfconf-query load settings from file

I wrote a wrapper script that loads the settings from such a file. Please check out the full script at github.
Its basic use is very simple. Call the script with the settings file as the only parameter: mysettings.xfconf

Code walkthrough

# File: /usr/share/bgconf/inc/
# Author: bgstack15
# Startdate: 2017-09-17 08:10
# Title: Script that Loads Settings into Xfconf
# Purpose: To make a single interface for other bgconf scripts to call for loading an xfconf file
# History:
#    2017-06 Main research was done but put in separate bgconf scripts.
#    2017-09-17 I decided to separate it out to streamline the bgconf scripts themselves.
# Usage:
#    In a script, determine that an xfconf file exists, then call:
# mysettings.xfconf
#    To generate a new xfconf file, you can run:
#       xfconf-query -l | sed -r -e '/Channels:/d' | while read line; do xfconf-query -lv -c "${line}" | sed -r -e "s/^/${line} /"; done > outfile
# Reference:
# Improve:
# Document: Below this line


# get DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS of first DE process of this user
# reference:
tmpfile1="$( mktemp )"
if test -n "${SUDO_USER}"; then _user="${SUDO_USER}"; else _user="${USER}"; fi
cat /proc/$( ps -eu${_user} | grep -E "${thisDE}" | tail -n1 | awk '{print $1}' )/environ 2>/dev/null | tr '\0' '\n' | grep -E "DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS|DISPLAY" > "${tmpfile1}"
test -f "${tmpfile1}" && test $( grep -cE "(DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS|DISPLAY)=.+" "${tmpfile1}" 2>/dev/null ) -ge 2 || echo "$0 error: Skipping ${thisDE}: Could not find current session." 1>&2
chmod +rx "${tmpfile1}" 2>/dev/null
. "${tmpfile1}"
/bin/rm -f "${tmpfile1}" 1>/dev/null 2>&1

# Assume infile exists as a file
if test -n "$( cat "${infile}" 2>/dev/null )" && test -x "$( which "${thisDEconf}" )" && ps -ef | grep -qE "${thisDE}" && test -n "${DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS}";

   # get user of that directory
   thisowner="$( stat -c '%U' "${infile}" )"
   thisowneruid="$( stat -c '%u' "${infile}" )"

   # xfce custom configuration
   grep -viE '^\s*((#|;).*)?$' "${infile}" | while read channel attrib value;

      # display output
      #printf "channel=%s\tattrib=%s\tvalue\%s\n" "${channel}" "${attrib}" "${value}"

      # provide data type. This needs to be researched before making a new .xfconf file.
      case "${attrib}" in
         *last-separator-position) _thistype=integer ;;
         *last-show-hidden|*misc-single-click) _thistype=bool ;;

      # make change
      sudo su - "${thisowner}" -c "DISPLAY=${DISPLAY} DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS=${DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS} ${thisDEconf} --create -t ${_thistype} -c ${channel} -p ${attrib} -s ${value}"


/bin/rm -f "${tmpfile1}" 2>/dev/null

The line numbers here are different from the script on github, and probably will get outdated as I make improvements to this utility. So I will use line numbers for the version seen above. Also, this script was originally written as a small portion of a larger project to deploy my settings to a whole system. That’s why you’ll see the “sudo – su” and logic to determine file ownership, because it is being called by a command running with sudo.

Lines 23-31 find the running desktop environment for the user (or the user who called sudo) and grab the values for DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS and DISPLAY that point to that running desktop environment. I don’t know a more official way, so I assembled this kludge over the course of this project. I’m rather fond of this logic despite the kludgeyness. You will observe on line 30 that this script actually dot sources a temp file with those variables. I actually first used this technique for loading conf files in an attempt to be more unix-like and use environment variables first, and then load in a conf file.

Line 34 calculates the requested file has contents, and the desktop environment really exists and is running, and one of the variables from the previous section is defined.
Lines 42-58 perform the actual import of settings from the file. The interesting regular expression is my official non-blank non-comment regex. For quick hand-typed oneliners, I normally just use ‘^$|^#’ but here I went with the fancier version that handles whitespace.
So the block reads three entries per line, the channel, item, and item value. Then it runs xfconf-query and plugs in the variable.
Lines 48-53 perform a manual type declaration based on hard-coded names. I don’t know how to query that from xfconf-query, so I had to use the graphical xfce settings tool to collect the exact names. You will definitely need to read through your xfconf files to make sure you include all the right options here. I suppose one could find a list of all the datatypes maybe from xfce’s documentation and parse it. I guess I’ll add that to the “Improve:” header.

dconf save and load from file

dconf save and load to file

GNOME-based desktops use a settings utility that is a little similar to the registry of a famous non-free operating system. I’ll spare you the ideological diatribe and get to the task at hand. I use Cinnamon from the Linux Mint project, and it is based on GNOME 3.

The command line tool for manipulating the settings is titled dconf.

Saving dconf settings to file

Dumping its output is easy.

dconf dump /
dock-items=['org.gnome.Terminal.dockitem', 'nemo.dockitem', 'firefox.dockitem']

Redirect to a file and you’re done.

dconf dump / > my-cinnamon.dconf

Pick a subdirectory if you wish to narrow it down.

dconf dump /org/cinnamon/sounds/

Loading dconf settings from file

The reverse is also as easy.
Make sure you use the same directory in the layout.

dconf load / < my-cinnamon.dconf

The story

This post is a precursor to a discussion about manipulating the settings programmatically in xfconf-query, which is the settings cli tool for the xfce desktop environment.
I wrote a wrapper script for a project of mine. Check out at github underneath my project bgconf.

Prepend output with time to generate each line

To show how long it takes before showing each new line of output, use this neat command.

long_command | ts -i "%.s"
$ ./configure --prefix=/tools | ts -i %.s
0.082337 checking for a BSD-compatible install... /tools/bin/install -c
0.002841 checking whether build environment is sane... yes
0.008164 checking for a thread-safe mkdir -p... /tools/bin/mkdir -p
0.000040 checking for gawk... gawk
0.005892 checking whether make sets $(MAKE)... yes



  1. St├ęphane Chazelas at

Restart cinnamon from command line

When cinnamon freezes up and needs to be restarted, you can restart it from Cinnamon itself or from a different terminal.

In Cinnamon

Press ALT+F2. Type in the letter r and press enter.

On the command line

To switch to another console terminal, press CTRL+ALT+F2.
On this terminal, type this command.

pkill -HUP -f "cinnamon --replace"



  1. User sim at

Save settings for bc, the Linux calculator


Use a ~/.bcrc file with contents:


Execute this or put it in your bashrc:

export BC_ENV_ARGS=~/.bcrc


In GNU/Linux, a basic calculator is bc from package bc.
The normal output is displayed with zero values after the decimal point, so I like to adjust it to show me four numerals past the decimal point.


You can use whatever scale you like.
To get this to take effect every time you call bc, you can set an environment variable BC_ENV_ARGS to a filename. That file is parsed as regular instructions to bc, before it enters the interactive shell or interprets standard in.
So modify a file, such as ~/.bcrc with your instructions.
Update your shell (or add to your .bashrc file):

test -f ~/.bcrc && export BC_ENV_ARGS=~/.bcrc



  1. Inspiration for this post
  2. Description of “rc” files in Unix

man pages


Send authenticated gmail from cli with mailx


I’ve shown how to send authenticated gmail from the command line before. That uses msmtp which takes some configuration.
This document shows how to use mailx itself to send authenticated gmail.


echo "this is the message" | mailx -s "Subject line here" \
-S smtp-use-starttls -S ssl-verify=ignore -S smtp-auth=login \
-S smtp=smtp:// -S from=" Stack)" \
-S smtp-auth-user="" \
-S smtp-auth-password="${SMTPPASSWORD}" -S ssl-verify=ignore \
-S nss-config-dir=/etc/pki/nssdb/


You need a certificate chain somewhere. You could also try nss-config-dir=~/.mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.default.
If you use the whole command in the tl;dr section, you don’t need any config file. Of course, be aware that any parameter passed on the command line is visible to any other program running, so passing in the password like seen above is risky.
You can redirect standard in from a file if you wish, of course, or from a here-document.
For a dedicated configuration, and better password security, consider adding in to your ~/.mailrc file:

set smtp-use-starttls
set nss-config-dir=/etc/pki/nss/
set ssl-verify=ignore
set smtp=smtp://
set smtp-auth=login
set smtp-auth-password=QWERTYUIOP
set from=" Stack)"

And then just use:

mailx -s "Subject line"



  2. Inspiration for entire contents

Send authenticated gmail from command line


You can send basic email from the command line. That’s been done a million times before, including by me!
Did you know that you can send email from the command line, from your gmail account that you authenticated to? That’s a big deal for some people. This document describes how to do that.

Sending gmail from command line

Install packages msmtp and mutt.
yum install msmtp mutt
Write the conf file and fill in the pertinent information.
# write conf file
touch "${tf}"; chmod 0600 "${tf}"; chown root:root "${tf}";
cat <<EOF >"${tf}"
account default
tls on
tls_certcheck off
auth on
port 587
password plaintextpassword
account second
tls on
tls_certcheck off
auth on
port 587
password plaintextpassword

Now you can send an email with this command.
echo -e "From: Pretty Name\r\nSubject: Example subject\r\nContent goes here." | msmtp --debug --from=default -t

Sending attachments

Configure mutt if you want to send attachments from the command line.
cat <<EOF >> /etc/Muttrc.local
set sendmail="/usr/bin/msmtp"
set use_from=yes
set realname="Pretty Name"
set envelope_from=yes

Send an email in html format and with an attachment.
subject="This is the subject
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/html"
mutt -a ~/attachment.txt -s "${subject}" -- << EOF
This will be fixed width font. I find it useful for sending code fragments or log files.

Authenticating to gmail from command line

The Arch Linux wiki provides an important reminder:

Tip: If using Gmail you’ll need to either

  • Allow “Less Secure Apps” in Settings > Security. Make sure to sign out of your other Gmail accounts first because the security settings part of Google Accounts can not manage concurrent sessions of more than one account.
  • Enable two factor authentication and create an app password.


  1. from bgscripts package