I have some rather long commands and file paths which I have copied to clipboard and need to execute in a TTY, however the file paths are too long to retype and I would like to just paste them in after the $ (I can retype the commands before them then), is there a way to do this?

So I would like to execute a command and have it on the next line starting with $ put the text copied to the clipboard like so:

$ specialCommandToPasteText
$ pastedText

I am running Ubuntu GNOME 16.04 with GNOME 3.20.

  • 3
    Paste the commands into a Bash script in a text editor, then execute the script from the TTY? – Nick Weinberg Jun 19 '16 at 13:29
  • @NickWeinberg: Not really an option, this is all in the CLI and the programs I have running there only have the copy ability. – user364819 Jun 19 '16 at 13:30
  • 2
    What program(s) are you copying them from? – Nick Weinberg Jun 19 '16 at 13:34
  • Are you using gpm to provide mouse support in the VT, as suggested in your own answer to a previous question? – steeldriver Jun 19 '16 at 13:36
  • 1
    One possible solution would be to use the copy/paste functionality in tmux or screen – Nick Weinberg Jun 19 '16 at 13:49

It's simple, but you need an additional tool.

  1. Install the package xsel which provides an easy command to access the clipboard:

    sudo apt-get install xsel
  2. Find out which $DISPLAY your desktop is using. Usually it should be :0, but you can check it by running this command in a terminal emulator on your GUI desktop:

    echo $DISPLAY

    I will assume the output is :0, replace that with your actual output in the following commands if it's different.

  3. Copy the command you would like to execute in the TTY, e.g. using Ctrl+C.

  4. Switch to the TTY you want to use, e.g. to TTY1 using Ctrl+Alt+F1.
    Log in by typing your username and password.

  5. Enter the full command you wish to run, but replace the part you want to insert from the clipboard with $(DISPLAY=:0 xsel -ob).

    For example if you copied a large list of packages to install, you could type this into the TTY:

    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install $(DISPLAY=:0 xsel -ob)

    The clipboard snippet does not necessarily have to be at the end of your command though, it may appear anywhere.

To simplify things further, let's move this still a bit complicated DISPLAY=:0 xsel -ob to a script. I'll name it PASTE (because paste is already taken), but you can also call it differently.

To create the script file in a location where every user can run it without having to specify the full path (I recommend /usr/local/bin for this) and to make it executable, simply run those two commands:

( echo '#!/bin/bash' && echo 'DISPLAY=:0 xsel -ob' ) | sudo tee /usr/local/bin/PASTE
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/PASTE

Now you can simply embed $(PASTE) into your commands on a TTY to insert the clipboard content from your desktop there.

  • 2
    Thanks! This will help me with a lot more things now than what I originally asked about! :) – user364819 Jun 19 '16 at 14:09
  • 1
    You could even store DISPLAY=:0 xsel -ob as Bash alias or small script anywhere (let's name it PASTE) and only use a shortened form like $(PASTE) to use clipboard contents in your commands. – Byte Commander Jun 19 '16 at 14:42
  • Very nice approach – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Jun 19 '16 at 19:13

Personally, I just use text files:

  1. In your desktop environment, open a terminal and

    echo "whatever long text you have copied" > file
  2. Drop to the tty and

    $(cat file)
  • 2
    This is good to know. I actually didn't think that a simple command such as this would work so well. Sometimes the mind just thinks too complicated. Thank you! =) – Terrance Jun 19 '16 at 14:55
  • 1
    I just use some-command ' shift+insert (to paste). ' return. Pasting inside single or double quotes prevents newlines in the pasted text from running the command before I can edit it to fix up any problems. IDK what it gains you to put the text in a file. Bash has very powerful line-editing keystrokes, like ctrl-left or ctrl-right arrow to move by words. alt-backspace to delete backwards words. Alt-d to delete forward words, etc. etc. – Peter Cordes Jun 20 '16 at 11:43
  • Oh, I just figured out that the OP means a text console VT when he says TTY. Someone should really edit the question, because every terminal you can run a shell on is a tty, including pseudo-terminals controlled by xterm-like programs. – Peter Cordes Jun 20 '16 at 11:45
  • @PeterCordes yeah but the term "tty" is often, if inaccurately, used to refer to virtual consoles. – terdon Jun 20 '16 at 11:51

Another possible workaround not listed above involve the use of vim, pasting and running :!unix_command in command mode:

  1. copy the commands and the path to the clipboard
  2. open vim, go to command mode Esc, enter the prompt :
  3. type a bang ! and then paste Ctrl + Shift + V the command you previously copied in the prompt and execute

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