Archive for January, 2012



We all need to look for word definition. Online dictionaries and wikipedia are great but we are not always connected to the net. sdcv is a console version of StarDict dictionary. Using sdcv you can search for definitions while still offline. So here are the step to install and make use of this great program.

Step 1. Installation

On Ubuntu

Open Up terminal and type:

$ sudo apt-get install sdcv

On Fedora

$ su -c “yum install sdcv”

On Mac OS X

Mac OS comes with a great GUI based dictionary, but cli enthusiasts will enjoy sdcv.

Please install Macports and then open Finder, Go to Application Folder > Utilities Folder and launch terminal and type

$sudo port install sdcv

Step 2. Download Dictionary Files

Now that we have installed sdcv, we need to download dictionary files from the net.

Go to this site1 , site 2  and download dictionary files according to you requirements. For open source fans, Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing (FOLDOC) and Jargon file are must. They are both available from site1.

FOLDOC: Dictionary for computing subjects.

Jargon File: “A comprehensive compendium of hacker slang illuminating many aspects of hackish tradition, folklore, and humor.” – From Jargon File Homepage.

GNU/Linux English-English Dictionary: You can download it form here.

Step 3. Install downloaded Dictionary Files

Now that you have downloaded the dictionary files we need to put them in the folder where sdcv looks for dictionary files when invoked.

On Linux based systems do the following

$sudo mkdir /usr/share/stardict/dic/

$sudo tar -xvjf downloaded.tar.bz2 -C /usr/share/stardict/dic or

$sudo tar -xvzf downlaoded.tar.gz -C /usr/share/stardict/dic

Note: Make sure the user who will be invoking the sdcv command has read and execute permissions on /usr/share/stardict/dic/ and its subfolders.

On Mac OS X

$mkdir -p $HOME/.stardict/dic

$sudo tar -xvjf downloaded.tar.bz2 -C $HOME/.stardict/dic

Note: Unfortunately you need to repeat this process for every user that needs access to these dictionary files.

Step 4. Enjoy sdcv

Searching for definition

$ sdcv Linux                         (looks for linux in the dictionary.)

$ sdcv                                  (invoes sdcv in the interactive mode, press Control-D to quit).

In earlier article we covered how to use espeak, now you can combine sdcv and espeak together. Sdcv to look for definition and espeak for pronunciation.

$ sdcv Linux && espeak Linux

Here is a picture.

"sdcv"

Note: Sometimes due to the long definition of a particular word text scrolls down too fast for you to read, advanced users can set SDCV_PAGER environment variable to /usr/bin/less. Now, less will be used to display to the dictionary’s article. You may consider adding this to your .bashrc file. Check out manpage for sdcv for more information.

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Sometimes we want out Linux box to speak to/for us.This ability is very useful to make announcements and alerts in case of many critical events in our machines or can be used just for sheer fun. There exists a command line synthesized known as espeak that comes pre installed in Ubuntu. You can also install it on debian systems by typing the command sudo apt-get install espeak  in a command console .For all other operating systems you can install it from source available at http://espeak.sourceforge.net/download.html The usage of espeak is pretty straight forward, just  type  espeak   “text to announce”  in a text console and listen your computer speaking the text.Some basic options to control espeak  are :

a <integer>     sets the amplitude/loudness of the speech
f <filename>  speaks the content of the given file
p <integer>     sets the pitch/frequency of the speech

s <integer>     sets the speed of the speech in words/minute 

Espeak is a cross platform utility that runs on more than half a dozen of OS platforms. So go through its man page by typing man espeak in a text console , explore it more and make your machine speak.

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