Touchpad Gestures on XPS 13

Hardware Linux

The XPS 13 is a great laptop and it comes with an equally matched touchpad. Setting up touch gestures is pretty easy, and we will cover what needs to be done to get it working on Arch.

First, let’s install all the needed software:

  • extra/libinput
  • aur/libinput-gestures

After installing the 2 packages you should be able to run libinput-gestures -d as root and try the pre-defined gestures. You should see an output when you swipe left/right/up/down with ¾ fingers and pinch in/out.

# libinput-gestures -d

libinput-gestures: session unknown+unknown on Linux-5.0.6-arch1-1-ARCH-x86_64-with-arch, python 3.7.3, libinput 1.13.0
/usr/bin/libinput-gestures: hash 4cc3250c5befc6926c04b3e499114677
Gestures configured in /etc/libinput-gestures.conf:
swipe up           _internal ws_up
swipe down         _internal ws_down
swipe left         xdotool key alt+Right
swipe right        xdotool key alt+Left
pinch in           xdotool key super+s
pinch out          xdotool key super+s
libinput-gestures: device /dev/input/event10: DLL075B:01 06CB:76AF Touchpad
libinput-gestures: SWIPE up 3 [-33.88000000000001, -604.8000000000001]
   _internal ws_up
libinput-gestures: SWIPE right 3 [755.69, -17.479999999999993]
   xdotool key alt+Left

Let’s add your user to the input group (because it should not run as root), then re-login:

sudo gpasswd -a [user] input

Now let’s edit our personal config file in ~/.config/libinput-gestures.conf. Using xdotool create a map of what keyboard shortcuts you would like to map your gestures to. Keep in mind you can also map it to commands.

For example, my config file looks like this:

# Gestures
gesture swipe up 3 xdotool key Ctrl+F9
gesture swipe up 4 xdotool key Ctrl+F10
gesture swipe left 3 xdotool key Ctrl+Alt+Right
gesture swipe right 3 xdotool key Ctrl+Alt+Left
gesture swipe down 3 xdotool key Super+Down

And the keyboard shortcuts are mapped to (KDE):

  • Ctrl+F9 - Show all windows (current desktop)
  • Ctrl+F10 - Show all windows (all desktops)
  • Ctrl+Alt+Right - Move to desktop on right
  • Ctrl+Alt+Left - Move to desktop on left
  • Super+Down - Desktop preview

Let’s configure the gestures to start with the desktop environment:

$ libinput-gestures-setup autostart

And start the gestures for the current session:

$ libinput-gestures-setup start

Icon theme "papirus" not found.
Icon theme "ubuntu-mono-dark" not found.
Icon theme "Mint-X" not found.
Icon theme "elementary" not found.
Icon theme "gnome" not found.
libinput-gestures started.

Enjoy your new setup gestures.

Bash Tips: History

Linux Bash

Bash keeps a history of the commands you type in and saves them to ~/.bash_history. These commands can be accessed in many ways and there are a lot of configuration related on how they are saved. I’ll cover some basic functionality here.

Event Designators (!, !!, !*)

From MAN Pages

An event designator is a reference to a command line entry in the history list. Unless the reference is absolute, events are relative to the current position in the history list.

For the different examples below, assume we are running it against the same command (netstat -an | grep ':22'). This is to help you visualize the differences between each of the event designators.

Repeating the last command that starts with !string

You can run the most recent command starting with string by using !string.

$ !netstat
netstat -an | grep ':22'
tcp        0      0    *               LISTEN     
tcp6       0      0 :::22000                :::*                    LISTEN     
tcp6       0      0 :::22

Another example:

$ ls my_file.txt
.rw-r--r--     0 victor users 18 Oct 11:35  my_file.txt

$ ls my_folder
drwxr-xr-x     - victor users 18 Oct 11:35  my_folder

$ !ls
ls my_folder
drwxr-xr-x     - victor users 18 Oct 11:35  my_folder

Tip: you can use the :p option to print the command instead of running it

$ !netstat:p
netstat -an | grep ':22'

Repeating the same command with !!

As you may already know, the !! can be used for repeating the same command.

$ echo !!
echo netstat -an | grep ':22'

This is useful when you forget to use sudo on a command that requires sudo access.

For example:

$ systemctl daemon-reload
Failed to reload daemon: Access denied

$ sudo !!
sudo systemctl daemon-reload
[sudo] password for victor:

Re-using the last argument with !$

Another very useful option is the !$, which provides quick access to the last argument in a command.

$ echo !$
echo ':22'

This can come in handy if you need to repeat the last argument with another command.

$ touch

$ vim !$

Another example:

$ mkdir myfolder

$ cd !$

The fc command

The command fc allows you to open commands in your history with an editor, modify the commands and then execute the modified version. It will use your default editor (as per $EDITOR), so make sure that is set.

Some common usage for fc:

  • fc -l - List your last commands
  • fc n - Edit the n command
  • fc -1 - Edit the last command
  • fc 20 22 - Edit commands 20 to 22

History Settings

On this section we talk a little bit about some of the configuration available for your Bash history.

Adds time to each command in history

# Sets up time for history
export HISTTIMEFORMAT="+%Y/%m/%d %T "

For example:

$ history | tail -n 10
  949  +2019/03/11 00:32:53 ssh seedbox
  950  +2019/03/11 16:05:53 cd .config/polybar
  951  +2019/03/11 16:05:56 ./
  952  +2019/03/11 17:49:38 lolbanner victor
  953  +2019/03/11 17:53:10 lolbanner test
  954  +2019/03/11 17:53:11 psg checkupdates
  955  +2019/03/11 17:53:11 clear
  956  +2019/03/11 17:53:11 echo hello 1
  957  +2019/03/11 17:53:11 history
  958  +2019/03/11 18:10:01 history | tail -n 10

Avoid duplicate entries

# Avoid duplicates
export HISTCONTROL=ignoredups:erasedups

Append entries

This comes in handy if you run multiple terminal emulators simultaneously. By default, the latest closed terminal emulator will overwrite history from the other windows. With this setting, changes are appended making sure all commands are saved to history.

# When the shell exits, append to the history file instead of overwriting it
shopt -s histappend

Colorful Banners With figlet and lolcat

Linux Bash

Banners in *nix like systems is something that is being used for a very long time. System admins would sometimes use it to let users know that the system was going down (nowadays built-in with the shutdown command), or setup motd messages for SSH logins. Within the past years people got very creative with the use of different fonts and ASCII art.

For today’s post we will work With two different apps to display beautiful banners on your systems or config/dot files:

  • figlet - displays the banners
  • lolcat - colorizes the banners

Installation (Arch)

pacman -Sy figlet lolcat


Figlet comes with a default font and you can start using it right away

$ figlet "Hello World"
 _   _      _ _        __        __         _     _
| | | | ___| | | ___   \ \      / /__  _ __| | __| |
| |_| |/ _ \ | |/ _ \   \ \ /\ / / _ \| '__| |/ _` |
|  _  |  __/ | | (_) |   \ V  V / (_) | |  | | (_| |
|_| |_|\___|_|_|\___/     \_/\_/ \___/|_|  |_|\__,_|

You can also download additional fonts (which is what we want). This will allow you to create a huge variety of banners.

Head over to the figlet-fonts project and take a look at the font files (*.flf). I would advise downloading the 3d.flf because that’s what we will use here. You can also clone the whole repo.

Place the new font in ~/.local/share/fonts/ and give it as an argument to the -f option in figlet:

$ figlet -f ~/.local/share/fonts/3d.flf "Hello World"
 ██      ██          ██  ██            ██       ██                  ██      ██
░██     ░██         ░██ ░██           ░██      ░██                 ░██     ░██
░██     ░██  █████  ░██ ░██  ██████   ░██   █  ░██  ██████  ██████ ░██     ░██
░██████████ ██░░░██ ░██ ░██ ██░░░░██  ░██  ███ ░██ ██░░░░██░░██░░█ ░██  ██████
░██░░░░░░██░███████ ░██ ░██░██   ░██  ░██ ██░██░██░██   ░██ ░██ ░  ░██ ██░░░██
░██     ░██░██░░░░  ░██ ░██░██   ░██  ░████ ░░████░██   ░██ ░██    ░██░██  ░██
░██     ░██░░██████ ███ ███░░██████   ░██░   ░░░██░░██████ ░███    ███░░██████
░░      ░░  ░░░░░░ ░░░ ░░░  ░░░░░░    ░░       ░░  ░░░░░░  ░░░    ░░░  ░░░░░░


Lolcat produces a rainbow effect on terminal text. For example, try listing a directory and then piping it to lolcat. It should produce an output similar to the one below:

Putting it all together

Use the same figlet command we used before to print out «Hello World» and pipe it through lolcat to get the result below:

Optionally, you can add Bash alias/function to quickly display colorized banners:

lolbanner ()
    figlet -f ~/.local/share/fonts/3d.flf $* | lolcat

Have fun adding banners to your dot files, config files and screenshots/videos. Just remember that for config files, the colors will not be saved/shown.

Fzf for the Win

Linux Bash fzf

fzf is a command line fuzzy finder that can be used to automatically filter a list of items. Think of it as an interactive search tool, where items get filtered as you type characters in your terminal.

The video below shows a basic interaction using a list or files from the fd search utility:

fzf can also be used with other Bash tasks, like history, ssh and even file/dir completion. The GitHub page has a lot documentation on how to implement auto completion.

You can also use the --preview option to output the current selection into a preview box, and even call a command to be used with that value. For example, we can preview all the files in a folder by searching for files (with find or fd), piping the output to fzf, and then using a program like cat (on the example below I’m using bat, which is a clone of cat with the addition of syntax highlight and other cool things) to preview the files.

fd -d 1 -t f | fzf --preview 'bat --color "always" {}' --preview-window=right:60%

I’ve covered only the very basic usage for fzf, but it should give you an idea of how powerful this finder utility is. On future posts I’m going to cover other use cases, like the git workflow that I use.


Bash Theme Powerline 2column

Bash Linux

powerline-2column is a simple powerline like prompt for Bash that displays information in two columns.

The prompt provides the following information:

Left Side

  • Folder icon for:
    • Git folder with provider icon
    • Home folder
    • Dropbox folder
  • Username
  • Hostname (when connecting via SSH)
  • Current path
  • Git status
    • untracked
    • uncommited
    • ahead/behind

Right Side

  • Previous exit code
  • Battery status
  • sudo cached credentials
  • Time

Check out some of the things it can do on the video below.

You can download a copy from my GitHub repo -

code with