Betty: Translate English Phrases Into Linux Commands

Betty: Translate English Phrases Into Linux Commands

Betty is an open source tool that translates English-like phrases into Linux commands. The main goal of this project is to use the Linux powered systems through natural language input. Let us see some examples how it works.


Betty installation is very simple and straight forward. Make sure you’ve installed the following prerequisites packages.

On Debian based systems:

sudo apt-get install git curl ruby

On RPM based systems:

yum install git curl ruby

Now, git clone the Betty repository to any preferred location. I am going to clone the betty repo in my home directory i.e /home/sk/.

git clone

Add the betty alias in your bashrc file.

sudo nano ~/.bashrc

Add the following line at the end:

alias betty="/home/sk/betty/main.rb"

Make sure you’ve replaced the correct path of the betty directory.

It’s done. Now, it’s time to play with betty.


You should include the word “betty” in-front of every English phrases. As you may know already, if we want to know the user name of our system, we run the following command:


Sample output:


As you see above, my current user name is sk. Well, now we can get the same result using betty as shown below.

betty whats my username

Sample output:

Betty: Running whoami

Cool, isn’t it? Yes. Betty understands the normal English phrase “whats my username” that I entered, and ran the command “whoami” automatically, and finally displayed the correct output.

Let us see some other commands too.

Betty will respond in multiple ways if you didn’t enter exactly what you’re looking for. For example, we run the following command:

betty whats my name

Betty isn’t sure whether she should find the system username or full name. In this case, she will ask you multiple questions to find the exact result. As you see below, Betty asks me which command(whoami or  finger $(whoami) | sed ‘s/.*: *//;q’) should I want to execute. I just want it to display my username, so i chose number 1.

Betty: Okay, I have multiple ways to respond.
Betty: Enter the number of the command you want me to run, or N (no) if you don't want me to run any.
[1] whoami
Gets your system username.
[2] finger $(whoami) | sed 's/.*: *//;q'
Gets your full name.
Betty: Running whoami

Compress And Uncompress Folders

If you want to compress a file or a folder, use the following command. For example, I want to compress a folder called “test” folder in my home directory.

betty compress test/ test.tar.gz

Sample output:

Betty: Running tar -czvf test.tar.gz test/

Similarly, we can use the following command to uncompress an archive file.

betty uncompress test.tar.gz

Sample output:

Betty: Running mkdir test &&  tar -zxvf test.tar.gz -C test

Complete list of Betty commands

Betty tool has some command formats. It doesn’t understand if you put the command “what is my user name” instead of “whats my username”. So, you have to enter the correct English phrase that supported by Betty.

The complete list of supported commands are given below.

betty how many words are in this directory
betty how many characters are in
betty count lines in this folder
(Note that there's many ways to say more or less the same thing.)
betty change your name to Joe
betty speak to me
betty stop speaking to me
betty what time is it
betty what is todays date
betty what month is it
betty whats today
betty find me all files that contain california
betty download to something.tar.gz
betty uncompress something.tar.gz
betty unarchive something.tar.gz to somedir
(You can use unzip, unarchive, untar, uncompress, and expand interchangeably.)
betty compress /path/to/dir
betty mute itunes
betty unmute itunes
betty pause the music
betty resume itunes
betty stop my music
betty next song
betty prev track
betty what song is playing
(Note that the words song, track, music, etc. are interchangeable)
betty go crazy
betty whats the meaning of life
...and more that are left for you to discover!
betty show me a map of mountain view
betty what version are you (or just betty version)
betty whats your github again
betty give me permission to this directory
betty give anotheruser ownership of myfile.txt
betty show me all processes by root containing grep
betty show me all my processes containing netbio
betty show size for myfile.txt
betty play spotify
betty pause spotify
betty next spotify
betty previous spotify
betty whats my username
betty whats my real name
betty whats my ip address
betty who else is logged in
betty whats my version of ruby
Web queries:
betty turn web on
betty please tell me what is the weather like in London

Betty seems very nice tool to lazy Linux users like me. Hope this tool will useful for you too.



  • John Troony

    This is a nice tool but not for Linux novice users.. I think new users should understand the very basics of Linux by running the commands themselves. Starting off with such tools will be PITA later when they have new systems with new applications to test. But getting down with native commands, using man pages where things look confusing is the right foot to step into Linux.. Let teh tool be for lazy old Linux users like us :)

  • SK

    Agreed. I must mention your points in the article. Thanks for the comment. Much appreciated.

  • Thorsten Staerk

    cool, bringing the computer to the language :) I have a related tool out there: translate english sentences into Regular Expressions:

  • Jeanyan Nicolas Lutchman

    no sound from speak to me on lubuntu

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