Bash Scripts

I use bash scripts or shell scripts extensively as part of my accessibility setup. Bash scripts are small text files containing a series of commands that your computer will run in sequence. Check out this quick Bash Make for exactly how to make and use a bash script.

The Terminal is that scary looking window that hackers always use in the movies to take over the world or blow up a nuclear power plants something, but it can be used for good as well! This is what a typical Terminal window looks like (yours may look slightly different). It’s not scary at all and I promise you can use them too:

A Typical Terminal Window

One quick example of a bash script I use a lot, probably everyday actually, is one that lets me screen share with one of the other computers in the house. This is really useful for tech support with your family and friends when they are all in the same house, it’s also useful for accessing remote machines you don’t have physical access to:

I say the words “Xylophone Phyllis”1 and DragonDictate for Mac runs the following Bash script and connects to the machine on my network called Phyllis:

After you’ve downloaded the script you just need to make it executable By running the following command in terminal: chmod +x screen-share.sh and then run it either from the Terminal, DragonDictate, or from Apple’s Switch Control or keystrokes or anything else that will run bash scripts really.

Advantages

Bash is all text based. Once you can put in text quickly (using Dasher or Dragon Dictate for example) you may find yourself wanting to work more and more in a text-based environment. I know I did. It’s just so much easier than trying to mouse around without hands. The great thing is you can do pretty much anything in the Terminal. I use it for text editing, IRC, calling for help, and most importantly messing around on Twitter and bugging Sam Harris!

Oh, it also means I can log into one of my many Raspberry Pis or the servers that run our websites and still use the same tools as I do on my fully accessible laptop. I don’t need to ask anybody for help, I can just log in from my accessible laptop to an inaccessible and remote computer and fiddle with it to my hearts content.

Look out for more tips and longer makes on how and why I prefer to use a Terminal interface rather than the graphical user interface (a GUI is the normal pictures and buttons way of using a computer).

  1. I use the word “xylophone” with all of my DragonDictate commands because it makes it easier for Dragon dictate to recognise what you are saying as a command rather than ordinary speech. Just pick an unusual word as your prefix and use that for all of your commands and you’ll find the DragonDictate will very rarely mistake ordinary speech for commands and vice versa.