This page lists a variety of (hopefully) common applications of the shell, and how to perform these in Ergonomica.

Replace instances of a word in a file

.: read a.txt
this is Example
Test which is an Example
of a file
.: read a.txt | replace Example test {0} | write a.txt ${}


Firstly, read a.txt reads the list of lines of the file a.txt and reads it into an array of lines. The replace command is then used, for each line, to replace instances of Example with test. The {0} character indicates that every 0-th item in the array of lines should be operated on (out of 1 items), applying this to each file. Then, the list of all processed lines, or {}, are written back to a.txt.

Remove all .pyc files recursively

.: find file .*pyc | rm ${0}


The command find file .*pyc finds all files in the current directory or any subdirectory (of arbitary depth) that matches the regex .*pyc (aka all strings ending with pyc). rm then removes each 0-th file in this list of files, in other word every file.

Add hashbangs to any Python file (if they don’t exist)

.: find file .*py | if (not (?contains (read ${0}) "#!/usr/bin/env python"))
                       (write ${0} (+ (list "#!/usr/bin/env python") (read ${0})))

Define a function to go up one directory N times

set up (lambda (n) (
        if (!= $n 0) (
            up (- $n 1)))
        (cd ..))

This defines a function, up, which operates recursively on a depth n. Until n is 0, it invokes itself again (decrementing n by 1), going up one directory level each time, until n reaches 0.

Find all directories 7 directory levels down that have more than two items

This program hinges on the fact that we can separate our conditional into two different statements—”is 7 directories down” and “contains more than 2 items”. We create two functions that return boolean values as to whether their inputs fulfill these conditions. Then, we first filter by our “7 directories down” condition, and then our “contains more than 2 items” condition. Note that it would be possible to simply substitute the values in of the two filter functions as lambdas in the final expression, however breaking it up like above makes it easier to debug and conceptualize.


Here, we must prefix each function that we’re filtering with with a $, because otherwise they would be interpreted as strings. Functions are values in the namespace just as any other variable.

Backup all GitHub repositories listed in a file

First, we initialize a file github_backup.ergo:

#!/usr/bin/env ergo

set backup_repo (lambda (user url) (
  if (contains "/" $url) (git clone (+ "https://github.com/" $url))
  else (git clone (+ "https://github.com/" $user "/" $url))

set repos (rest (read repos.txt))
set user (first (read repos.txt))

rm backups
mkdir backups
cd backups

print $repos | backup_repo $user ${0}

In repos.txt, we list all the repositories which we wish to backup, in addition to the GitHub username. All personal repositories do not require a prefix of the username.


Then, whenever github_backup.ergo is run, all repositories are backed up in subdirectories of backups.

Keep track of the number of files modified in a directory

.: set mcount 0
.: on_fs_update . (lambda (x) (set mcount (+ $mcount 1)))

First, we initialize a variable that will be in the scope of the function passed to on_fs_update, mcount (modified count). Then, we use the on_fs_update function on the current directory (i.e., .), passing to it a function that will simply increment mcount.

Spawn a process in the background

Suppose you have a massive hard drive and you’d like to delete all the files. However, since this might take a while, the rm operation will likely be slow.

spawn (lambda () (slice -1 (list (rm /mnt/bigdrive) "Disk wipe completed.")))

What this snippet does is spawns a process in the background that will erase the drive. slice is used so that first, a list will be created with the result of rm as well as the string "Disk wipe completed. It will have to wait until all elements in the array are evaluated (e.g., the rm operation), and then will return the second element—printing "Disk wipe completed." to the console.

Super Simple REPL

#!/usr/bin/env ergo

set eventloop (lambda (string) (
        if (split $string)