AH-TTY: A Helpful Terminal Emulator

`ah-tty' -- provides help at a UNIX shell prompt


A Helpful Termulator Emulator (`ah-tty' provides context-sensitive help at a UNIX shell prompt. `ah-tty' executes an inferior shell, and watches the output from the shell and the input to it from the user carefully, to determine what is a prompt, and what is actually a command typed by the user.

Once it has determined what the user's command is, `ah-tty' compares it to a list of rules to determine what helpful hint to display, if any.

This isn't making sense, is it? Okay, try this:

  1. Start `ah-tty',
  2. then at the shell prompt type `ls ', do not press return.
  3. Wait a moment, and watch the bottom of the screen.

Now does it make sense? Okay then.

DO NOT set your default shell to `ah-tty.' This is not a shell in its own right, just a kind of front-end shell watching thingy. If you want this to be your default shell, invoke it manually from the shell prompt, or in your `.login' or `.profile' scripts.

Rules consist of regular expressions, combined with appropriate delays, as well as a maximum number of times the hint should be displayed in one session. However, any particular hint is only displayed once per prompt.

For details of how to create and modify rules files, see RULES section (see section The Rules File). If you can create rules files yourself, you probably don't need to use `ah-tty' 8)




After unpacking the tar file, do:

        make install

If you do not have installation privileges, then you can try the following:

        cp ah-tty.conf ~/.ah-ttyrc

You will also have to move `ah-tty' to somewhere in your PATH (ie, `~/bin'), or add `ah-tty''s path to your PATH environment variable.


It does not fully understand the shell's line-editing capabilities. Right now it works, it just may not match correctly.

How to find out more

online documentation
There is a set of online documentation.
Contact the author:
Randall Maas (


Copyright (C) 1999-2000, Randall Maas. All rights reserved. This package is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under terms of the GNU Public License.

Portions are copyright Fraser McCrossan


Randall Maas

Fraser McCrossan

Author: Randall Maastop