A Script to Make Use of the “About Me” System Preference Utility

The Linux distributions, such as Fedora or Ubuntu who ship the Gnome desktop environment, include a utility in the “System -> Preferences” menu called “About Me”. This fun little utility allows you to enter in all of your personal and/or work information and also allows you to pick a cute avatar icon which is shown when you login. Beyond setting an avatar icon, I haven’t found much use in it or seen any benefits that it provides. I remember reading a post about it on the Ubuntu forums a while back which asked people if they use it. The response was that nobody used it except to set their login icon. While thinking about this, I figured I would recommend a use for the “About Me” utility: setup a signature script for Evolution. Please feel free to use this as your own starting point. I included some of the basics of what I may want in a signature, but if you need more, it’s not hard to add it. The following script parses out the information from the binary file that’s created within the hidden .evolution home folder and displays the information. You can even choose between “work” or “home” information shown. Enjoy! Oh, and I’d love to hear how else the “About Me” utility can be used, so drop a comment below…



FULLNAME=`finger `whoami` | grep "Name:" | cut -d : -f 3 | sed 's/^.//'`

ORG=`grep -a "ORG:" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2 | cut -d ";" -f 1`
ORG_WITH_DEPART=`grep -a "ORG:" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
TITLE=`grep -a "TITLE" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
ROLE=`grep -a "ROLE" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
MANAGER=`grep -a "X-EVOLUTION-MANAGER" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
ASSISTANT=`grep -a "X-EVOLUTION-ASSISTANT" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
EMAIL=`grep -a "EMAIL;TYPE=$TYPE" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
JABBER_IM=`grep -a "X-JABBER;TYPE=HOME" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
#FIXME: A grep for "URL" matches two URLs (Blog and Homepage)
WEBSITES=`grep -a "URL:http" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2,3`
PHONE=`grep -a "TEL;TYPE=$TYPE,VOICE" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
CELLPHONE=`grep -a "TEL;TYPE=CELL" $ABOUT | cut -d : -f 2`
STREET=`grep -a "ADR;TYPE=$TYPE:" $ABOUT | cut -d ";" -f 4`
CITY=`grep -a "ADR;TYPE=$TYPE:" $ABOUT | cut -d ";" -f 5`
STATE=`grep -a "ADR;TYPE=$TYPE:" $ABOUT | cut -d ";" -f 6`
ZIP=`grep -a "ADR;TYPE=$TYPE:" $ABOUT | cut -d ";" -f 7`

# Evolution expects signature in HTML format, so surround block with
# <p>aragraph markings and all newlines need <br />
echo " <br /><p>"
echo "Best Regards, <br />"
echo "<br />"
echo "$FULLNAME <br />" 
echo "$TITLE <br />"
echo "$ROLE <br />"
echo "$MANAGER <br />"
echo "$ASSISTANT <br />"
echo "$ORG <br />"
echo "$EMAIL <br />"
echo "$JABBER_IM <br />"
echo "$WEBSITES <br />"
echo "$STREET <br />"
echo "$CITY, $STATE $ZIP <br />"
echo "$PHONE <br />"
echo "$CELLPHONE <br />"
echo "</p>"

What you’ll see after saving this to a script, giving it executable rights (chmod +x about_me_sig), and then running it:

Best Regards,

My Full Name
My Title
My Role
My Manager
My Assistant
My Organization
My Email
My Jabber
My Website
My Street Name
My City, My State, My ZIP
My Phone
My Cellphone

If you don’t know how to integrate this with Evolution, please see my other step-by-step guide here:
Generate Random Quotes with a Shell Script [Part 3/3: Integrate with Evolution Email].

Also, you could take it a step further and install the fortune program to give a random quote as well.

Another thought was to use the above script to populate the .plan file which is shown when your username is invoked with the finger command. For this, you would need to setup the script a bit differently and experiment with newlines and what-not as well as setup a cron job to make sure that it’s updated regularly for when you update the “About Me” information. To test it out, simply run the commands below (the above script has been named “about_me_sig”):

./about_me_sig > .plan
finger `whoami`

Have fun!

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