I want to get a program (a script that can be set to auto-start or something) that tells you every hour like "It's 11 o'clock."

I know it's easy on Macs, but how do you get that on Precise?

3 Answers 3


There's a program in the standard repos for it, saytime.

sudo apt-get install saytime

Then you can run saytime -r 3600 to run it every hour (3600 seconds, or change the number for a different interval in seconds). It will start as a background process when run with this option.

If you want to change the format (for example to remove the "and X seconds") it would be saytime -r 3600 -f %P%l%M - full format options in man saytime.

Source: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=516600&p=3130400#post3130400

  • @Dan Wow. Whoops. Good spot, that's rather an embarrassing one! Yes, it was indeed meant to be 3600. Edited to fix.
    – Jez W
    May 22, 2013 at 11:20
  • 1
    If you have problems like sox FAIL formats: can't open output file '/dev/audio': Permission denied run it with padsp: $ padsp saytime -r 3600 Jun 17, 2013 at 7:19
  • @franzlorenzon How do you make padsp saytime -r 3600 work from Startup Applications in Gnome? I tried adding it there but it doesn't work. Jul 18, 2013 at 10:13
  • Does it work one the terminal? Can you see the log from Gnome (unix.stackexchange.com/questions/17244/…)? Jul 18, 2013 at 11:14
  • How can I use this to run at starting of every hour like 1 o' clock, 2 o' clock, etc...? Aug 4, 2021 at 9:14
sudo apt-get install festival

If you wanna get crazy you can also add to gnome-schedule:

echo This is my custom message | festival --tts

Where custom message can include the output of the command


and if you want a nicer voice try something like:

sudo apt-get install festvox-us1
echo "(set! voice_default 'voice_us1_mbrola)" | sudo tee -a /etc/festival.scm
  • I think you should use cron too to make it run every hour. Jun 17, 2013 at 7:21
  • That's what I meant by gnome-schedule
    – Jonathan
    Jun 20, 2013 at 10:27
  • Ops, you're right :) Jun 20, 2013 at 11:31

The current espeak version (1.48.3) links directly to mbrola voices. So you can obtain a good result with something like:

date|espeak -v en-us

Parms are available to espeak to tweak the voice. See it's man for more options.

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