What is robo?

robo is a way to make your computer speak to you, either in your private live or as a unix administrator. robo  is a commandline tool, which uses festival as speech synthesis system. robo dynamically converts shell script code to a computer voice output. From now on your computer is speaking to you. It will feed on direct input on a command line, or over input by textfile, or shell scripting code. In combination with cron jobs, variables and `backticks` this little tool has quite a powerful potential. “robo”  could just be what you were looking for. This is what robo could do for you:

While you are having a cuppa,  logfile incidents are getting reported (“Connection attempt on port 22“). You could be getting reminded of events (“Tomorrow  wedding“) or you could get charmed: “Good morning $USER, you are looking great!” Every afternoon your computer might say: “Daily backup at 10:18 successfully completed.” Or imagine your answer machine goes robo …  If you make up your own scripts, please consider to share them in scripts.


For the english voice, “robo” will work fine just based on a commandline audio player and the text2speech abilities of festival . This software was originally created by the University of Edinburgh (Scotland). The main festival command utilised by robo is called “text2wave”, which is the actual text2speech converter behind “robo”. “robo” will take text as input -either directly or by extracting a text file- and read the input back to the user with computer voice. Input may be generated by shell scripting code – the use of `backticks` make “robo” a potentially powerful tool, which is only limited by the shell scripting abilities of its user. To find out how to use “robo”, go to syntax. Or go straight to install.

Implementing German or other languages:

The idea of robo originated in this article on linuxnetz.wordpress.com (german blog). During the resulting discussion the idea grew to make “robo” speak German, which is not possible by default with the festival speech software. The solution to this demand was to make the german voices of mbrola working with festival. A script was is about to be introduced by Roughtrade (from the German Ubuntuusers Community) to automatically download and install the required software and create the proper scripts to make “robo” working with mbrola voices and festival. More info to follow soon.


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