fortune prints a randomly-selected quip from its “cookie files”.
$ fortune Good news, everyone!
The cookie files are normally stored in
man fortune on your system to be sure.)
The Ubuntu package repositories contain a variety of additional cookie files, including fortunes in other languages! Try
aptitude search fortunes.
Useful Options / Examples
Print a fortune from a particular file or directory
$ sudo apt-get install fortunes-ubuntu-server $ fortune ubuntu-server-tips Did you know that releases of Ubuntu labeled LTS are maintained for 5 years on servers? 'cat /etc/lsb-release' will tell you which release you are on.
You can specify the name of a cookie file to cause
fortune to read from that file only. This also works for subdirectories of the cookie folder, like the ones used for different languages.
Show or hide offensive fortunes
$ fortune -a Handel's Proverb: You can't produce a baby in one month by impregnating 9 women!
Your system might have an
off/ directory in the cookie folder containing fortunes which could be offensive. By default,
fortune will not read from this folder, but the
-a option lets it choose from all fortunes (normal and offensive). Similarly, the
-o option would make
fortune only choose offensive fortunes.
List fortune files
$ fortune -f 100.00% /usr/share/games/fortunes 15.59% riddles 31.91% literature 52.50% fortunes
-f command lists the cookie files that
fortune will choose from. It takes into account the current options, meaning that the “offensive” files (see above) will not normally be listed - using
fortune -af instead will include them.
It also shows the probability of picking each file. Instead of reading every cookie file every time you run
fortune, it uses the file sizes to (fairly) choose a file to open before choosing a fortune from that file.
Print a short fortune
$ fortune -s Measure twice, cut once.
You can use
-l to print a short or a long fortune respectively. The
-n option can then be used to specify the number of characters considered “short” - for instance,
fortune -s -n 40 prints a fortune no longer than 40 characters. This may be useful when pairing
cowsay, if you want to prevent the speech bubble from getting too big.
Search for a fortune
$ fortune -m Twain 2>/dev/null Buy land. They've stopped making it. -- Mark Twain % If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything. -- Mark Twain % (...many more...)
-m option prints all fortunes that match the given regex, much like how
grep works. You can generally just enter a word to search for (like in this example), even if you don’t know how to use regex.
This option will also print to stderr the names of the cookie files that contain matching fortunes, so you may want to use
2>/dev/null to hide them.