Ubuntu – How to easily share the output of a command or a text file with others

command line

I recently asked a question on Ask Ubuntu (or somewhere else), and a comment or answer asks me to paste the contents of some file or the output of a command to troubleshoot my problem.

How do I do that?

Best Answer

How to easily share all or part of some text file (or the output of a command)

You'll paste the file or command output to Ubuntu's "pastebin" service, and then allow others to look at it by simply sharing a link, or use it yourself to further copy and paste a few lines into your question.

Note: If your problem involves the Software Center, Update Manager or apt-get not working, you may have to use the Alternate Method near the bottom of this answer.

1. Start the terminal

  • The terminal allows you to interact with your system by typing commands, instead of using the mouse/cursor. It's not hard to use when you have instructions, and can make some tasks very easy to accomplish.
  • Press the Ctrl+Alt+T keys together (at the same time) to start the terminal. This will work for everyone using regular Ubuntu, but if you're using...

    • Lubuntu: Click on the Start button, go to Accessories, and click on LXTerminal
    • Xubuntu: Right-click anywhere on the desktop, and click on Open Terminal Here
    • Kubuntu: Click on the Start button, type konsole in the Search box, and click on Konsole

    How to start a terminal on L/X/K-ubuntu

    • You will get a window with a solid background, showing your username and your computer name, like the below (size/colors may differ!):

    enter image description here

2. Install pastebinit, a small tool to paste text from the terminal

  • In your terminal, type sudo apt-get install pastebinit and press Enter
  • Enter your password and press Enter (what you type won't show, don't worry)
  • When asked Do you want to continue?, type Y and press Enter, and wait for the prompt (user@machine) to return.

    enter image description here

3. Pastebin the file or command and paste its URL on AskUbuntu

  • Go back to your browser, select the exact filename (or command) whose content you were asked to paste, and press Ctrl+C to copy it to the clipboard.
    • A filename may look something like /etc/apt/sources.list, while a command may simply be something like dmesg or grep -i failed /var/log/auth.log. The answer or comment will tell you explicitly if it's a file or a command.
  • Now, for a file, type pastebinit in the terminal, follow with a space; then right-click on the cursor and click on Paste to paste the filename you copied.

    enter image description here

  • Press Enter, and after a few seconds you will see a link of the form http://paste.ubuntu.com/ as shown below. Move your mouse over it, and it will be underlined -- then right-click and click on Copy Link Address to copy it link to your clipboard:

    enter image description here

  • But for a command, copy and paste the command in the terminal first, and then type
    | pastebinit after it, and press Enter (see screenshot below)

    • The | symbol may be obtained by pressing Shift+\, which is usually below the Backspace key.
    • Move your mouse over the link--it will be underlined--right-click and Copy Link Address as explained above. enter image description here

4. Paste the link into your AskUbuntu question/comment

  • Go back to your browser, and add a comment (or edit your question) with the Pastebin link - just press Ctrl+V to paste it. Save the edited question or add the comment, and that's it!

5. Optional: View your pastebin link, and only paste selected lines from it into your AskUbuntu

  • You can also paste the link into your browser's address bar, or click on the link after you've added/edited it to AskUbuntu, to view it on pastebin. It will look similar to this:

    enter image description here

    • Notice the line numbers. You can also copy and paste selected/requested lines from here directly into your AskUbuntu question.
    • Please enclose the pasted lines with the <pre> and </pre> tags as shown below, so that it appears as separate lines in the question instead of being jumbled together: enter image description here

Alternate way to pastebin a file using an editor

This may be useful if you are having a problem with Software Center, Update Manager or apt-get and cannot install pastebinit; it only works for files, not commands.

  • Select and copy the filename from AskUbuntu into your clipboard with Ctrl-C.
  • Open a terminal as shown in Step 1 and type gedit, followed by a space, and then right-click to paste the filename as in Step 3 and press Enter

    • Lubuntu users type leafpad instead of gedit; Kubuntu users type kate
  • The editor will open with the file:

    enter image description here

  • Click anywhere inside the editor window, and press Ctrl+A. All the text should now be highlighted in another color:

    enter image description here

  • Now press Ctrl+C (or the Copy button, if you know where that is) to copy the entire file to the clipboard.

  • Go to your browser, and open paste.ubuntu.com. Type your name/nickname in the Poster: box; then click in the Content: box and press Ctrl+V to paste the text you just copied from the editor in there:

    enter image description here

  • Click on the Paste button, and in a few seconds you'll see the text you pasted:

    enter image description here

  • Select the address shown in the address bar (highlighted orange above), copy it with Ctrl+C, and then go back to AskUbuntu and paste it in as explained in Step 4.

  • Alternately, select a few lines, copy them and then paste them in AskUbuntu as explained in Step 5.
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