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I have a file which contains one word, "green", "yellow" or "red" (this file is updated via a cron job.

I would like to use that color to display text in Conky. The actual text would stay the same, but the color would update depending on that file. Does anyone know of a way to make this work? Thanks!

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Create a bash-script that outputs ${color yourcolor} :


read -r </path/to/color-file color
echo -n '${color '$color'}'

And run it in conky (every 10 seconds):

${execpi 10 /path/to/} Colored text here {color}

Something nested like ${color ${head -1 /path/to/color-file}} might also work.

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Thank you! Worked perfectly. – Trevor Dec 9 '11 at 15:04
Here's an alternate line #4 for your script which will even work if your color file contains some garbage (e. g. control characters) beyond the 1st line for some reason: awk 'NR==1{print}' color-file. I'd always avoid cat in these cases because it is always risky to blindly assume the file will only contain one neat line. A blank line following the first line might already induce problems. – syntaxerror Oct 11 '14 at 13:08
You're right @syntaxerror I edited the answer and also updated the bash-script – micke Oct 11 '14 at 15:28
Looks pretty good now, thanks for the quick update ... except that I'm still not sure that this will work in Conky without the first $ in the echo line being escaped with a backslash. Conky is always picky about these things.:) Even though I might be wrong. – syntaxerror Oct 11 '14 at 17:38
Nah, it's cool. No need for escaping inside single quotes. – micke Oct 11 '14 at 21:24

Note that you will need execp or execpi to do the above as exec and execi do not parse the output of the script

execp: Executes a shell command and displays the output in conky. warning: this takes a lot more resources than other variables. I'd recommend coding wanted behaviour in C and posting a patch. This differs from $exec in that it parses the output of the command, so you can insert things like ${color red}hi!${color} in your script and have it correctly parsed by Conky. Caveats: Conky parses and evaluates the output of $execp every time Conky loops, and then destroys all the objects. If you try to use anything like $execi within an $execp statement, it will functionally run at the same interval that the $execp statement runs, as it is created and destroyed at every interval.

This also works with simply cat'ing a file such as:

${execpi 15 cat /path/to/file.log}
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This is not an answer to the original question. – DavidPostill Sep 7 '14 at 11:48

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