Old School Bell Trick

Update 2018 I’m now achieving this in Fish by adding echo -n -e "\a" to the end of my fish_prompt function in my fish_prompt.fish. This means Fish pings the bell on every prompt, which seems excessive, but if I’m focused in the terminal, then i3wm ignores it anyway (alacritty converts the bell to the X11 urgent flag).

I’m running test cases from the console a lot lately. Besides missing Eclipse, my productivity has dropped as I’ll task switch to something else while the tests run, and I typically only notice the tests have completed after my other supposedly-parallel task hits an interrupt.

To help with this, I’m using an old bell script I had laying around. I came across it awhile ago, and it is pretty simple, but I thought it might be worth rehashing the trick for others finding themselves on the command line lately.

It looks like:

echo ^G

Where ^G is not two literal characters ^ and G, but a single control character BEL. How you enter BEL depends on your editor–in vim, you do Ctrl-V Ctrl-G in insert mode.

If you chmod u+x bell and then just run bell from the command line, you should hear a “ding” system bell.

Now when running tests, I do:

grails test-app ; bell

Switch away, and then I can come back immediately when I hear the “ding”. The pre-emptive task switch makes me feel more productive anyway.

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