TPP: Command-line Based Text Presentation tool for Ubuntu Linux

While creating professional looking (with pretty graphics and other whatnots etc :D) presentations in GNU/Linux, office productivity suites such as LibreOffice, OpenOffice, KOffice and Caligra are widely used because they’re user friendly and rich in features.

However you still can create a professional looking presentation with a minimalistic appearance in plain text too. In those occasions why not try “TPP” (stands for: Text Presentation Program).

TPP is a command-line based utility and when formatting a document (such as adding headings, sub heading, date, footer content etc) you’ll have to do it in the old-school way of using built in text formatting “codes” (more below).


But it’s not complicated like with HTML or XML code editing for instance and most of the time one only has to use 7-8 formatting commands. It is pretty much user friendly, the commands are easy to remember and has an extremely well written read-me file as well.

Main features …

*. Supports saving files in plain text. So whenever you want to create a presentation you can use whatever the text editor that you have and when done, save the document, open it in TPP and off you go! ;-).

*. Supports adding new pages, headings, date, intro, footer section, change font sizes, change background/foreground colors, add borders to pages and more.

*. Change slide duration individually for each page (including slide auto-play).


*. Lets you executing commands within slides:

For instance, let’s say that I wanted to open a certain image when loading the second slide, then TPP lets you do that with ease.

*. Has few built in slide styles.

*. Add text Quotes and page borders.

*. Add “sleep” seconds: In these seconds TPP won’t accept any input (keyboard commands etc) and remain in sort of a “locked” state.

These are some of its features to mention.

You can install TPP in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by typing the below commands in your Terminal window.

sudo apt-get install tpp

Few simple examples …

As said before, you have to remember few of its built in text formatting commands or codes while using. But those commands are easy to remember as you can see from below example. It has an excellent read-me file plus an example presentations worth reading.

As I say usually, I’m an average user (with some bad English skills :D) and still it took me like 10 minutes to get used to its commands.

You can find both the “read-me” and “example” files by navigating in the below folder path in Nautilus (or whatever the file manager that you use) once installed it.


Once in that folder, double click on the file called “README.gz” (as shown below) and then double click on the extracted file to open it in your text editor (mine is GEdit).

This contains all the commands that you want to use. And also have a look at the “examples” folder for presentations created by TPP.


But let me forcefully give a simple example 😉

Now I’ve created a 2-page, sample presentation with some commonly used text formatting commands.

The text I composed are shown below (including the codes etc). The ones marked in “Blue” and “Green” are the built in commands, I’ll explain them later (but then again, as you can see, they pretty much speak for themselves :D).

--author Canonical
--title About Ubuntu …
--date today

--heading Where did it all begin?

Linux was already established as an enterprise server platform in 2004. But free software was still not a part of everyday life for most computer users. That’s why Mark Shuttleworth gathered a small team of developers from one of the most established Linux projects – Debian -- and set out to create an easy-to-use Linux desktop, Ubuntu.

The vision for Ubuntu is part social and part economic: free software, available free of charge to everybody on the same terms, and funded through a portfolio of services provided by Canonical.

--footer Copyright: Canonical …


--heading Ubuntu Releases …

The Ubuntu team broke new ground in committing to a programme of scheduled releases on a predictable six-month basis.


It was decided that every fourth release, issued on a two-year basis, would receive long-term support (LTS). LTS releases are typically used for large-scale deployments.


Explanation of the commands (text formatting) …


--author : This shown at the top of the first page of the slide under the ‘Author’ field.

--title: This sets the title for the page

--date: This is used to display the date. You can type your date manually or can use the “today” attribute (marked in Green in the above text) which prints the current date taken from the computer.

--heading: This adds a heading to the document.

Whatever you type afterward is added into paragraphs.

--footer: This defines the footer section of the page. You can add copyright notes or wherever you want to be displayed at the end of the each page.

--newpage: This command adds a new pages. So whenever you want to add a new page (slide), add this code in a new line. All the text after it is considered as a new page by TPP.

And after adding a new page, you can again use “--heading”, “--title” etc for customizing that page.


Any text between these tags will be displayed as bold text.


“--bold” used in page 2 …

For testing how the above text would look in TPP, I’ve put them into a text file, so get it from here (don’t copy-paste the above quoted text as adding “quotes” in WordPress breaks TPPs’ coding style, which can be fixed, but a bit hectic ;-)).

Now download that file say into your “Home” folder and to open it as a presentation, use the below command in your Terminal.

tpp new.txt

To view full screen, press the “F11” key (not needed if you’re running it from the original command-line rather than a desktop based terminal emulator).

Adding slide auto-play and individual page slide durations …

By default, TPP does not automatically play your slides (you can use arrow-keys for manually playing your slides). For that, you can use the “-t” attribute with “autoplay” attributes as show below in your Terminal window.

tpp -t autoplay new2.txt

You can add delays to individual slides using the “-s” attribute. So for playing a text slide with 3 seconds between each slide (page), I’ll use something like the below command.

tpp -t autoplay -s 3 new2.txt

Also make sure to read its manual (for knowing keyboard shortcuts etc). For that, use the below command.

man tpp

Other commands ??

As said, you can execute a program when loading a certain page or a slide. For instance, let’s say that I wanted to open a certain picture when opening a page, then within that pages’ content, I’ll use the “--exec” code, followed by the command of the application that I want to launch.

For opening a picture using Shotwell in Ubuntu, I’d add the below tag above (or below) the appropriate text field.

sample text above

--exec shotwell Pictures/mypicture.png

sample text below

It has a lot more other commands (such as changing background colors etc), so as said before, remember to read its “read-me” file.

Changing colors is also easy …

So as a final word, if you’re obsessed with the command-line in GNU/Linux ;-), and looking for a tool to create minimalist & professional looking text presentations directly from the command-line, then ‘TPP’ rocks!. Good luck.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

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