How to Build a Twitter-Bot
Table of Contents
There is a command-line twitter client that can be used to send tweets to a certain account from terminal. Combining it with cron and other linux tools I have built a twitter-bot that sends proverbs periodically to twitter (https://twitter.com/l10n_sq). I will describe here how I did it.
1 Accessing twitter from the terminal
There is a single-letter tool called "t", which is a command-line Twitter client written in Ruby. I installed and configured it as described in this tutorial: http://xmodulo.com/access-twitter-command-line-linux.html.
The installation is simple:
apt-get install ruby-dev gem install t
Then create a new app on twitter: https://apps.twitter.com/app/new Follow the detailed instructions and the screenshots on the tutorial above.
The next step is to authorize your app to access the Twitter account:
useradd --system --create-home twitter su - twitter t authorize
The account access info will be stored in ~/.trc as a plain text.
Now we can use it like this
$ t account l10n_sq $ t whois @dashohoxha ID 50053789 Since Jun 23 2009 (8 years ago) Last update 20+ Free eBooks To Learn Linux For Free https://t.co/PoOMspWYJr (a month ago) Screen name @dashohoxha Name Dashamir Hoxha Tweets 1,403 Favorites 21 Listed 5 Following 50 Followers 141 $ t stream timeline $ t update "Hello there" $ t follow @dashohoxha @linuxfoundation $ t mentions -n 10 $ t search timeline "linux"
For more complex usage examples, refer to the official documentation.
2 Getting random proverbs with 'fortune'
There is a nice little command, called
fortune, which can get and
print a random citation from a file of citations.
apt-get install fortune fortune
The data files from which it gets the random citations are on
/usr/share/games/fortunes/. The ones with the extension
binary files (which are used by the command), and those without this
extension are text files. The format of these text files is very
simple: Quotations are separated from each-other by a line that
% sign. It is very easy to create a file that contains
your own list of preferred proverbs or citations. Then convert it to
the binary format with the command:
strfile -c % yourlist yourlist.dat
Now, to get a random item from your list you can run:
3 Twitting random items from your lists
I use a small script in order to tweet random sayings from my preferred lists:
#!/bin/bash fortune='/usr/games/fortune' t='/usr/local/bin/t' tweet=$($fortune -s -n 140 25% english 75% shqip) $t update "$tweet"
The main command here is
fortune -s -n 140 25% english 75% shqip.
-s -n 140 makes sure that only short proverbs of up to
140 chars are returned, which are suitable for being twitted. The
25% english 75% shqip ask the command to return something
from the files in the directory
with a probability of 25%, and something from the files in the
/usr/share/games/fortunes/shqip/ with a probability of 75%
(in the first directory I have collected some English proverbs, and on
the second one some Albanian proverbs). The last step of the script is
to send this random proverb to twitter, with the command =t update
4 Making it automatic
The last thing is to run the script above periodically and
automatically. This is a job for the good old
cron. I have created
/etc/cron.d/fortune which has these lines:
### first create a user with `adduser twitter` 0 */5 * * * twitter /home/twitter/fortune.sh > /dev/null 2>&1 ### uncomment this line only for debugging #*/5 * * * * twitter /home/twitter/fortune.sh
It runs the script each 5 hours, sending posts to twitter automatically.
5 Twitting translations from l10n.org.al
Another script very similar to the previous one is this:
#!/bin/bash t='/usr/local/bin/t' base_url=https://l10n.org.al tweet=$(curl -k $base_url/btr/tweet) mention=$( ( $t followings ; $t followers ) | uniq | sort -R | tail -1) $t update "$tweet @$mention"
This one gets a random translation from l10n.org.al, with the command:
curl -k https://l10n.org.al/btr/tweet
Then it appends to it the name of a random friend and sends it to twitter.