Replacing history with McFly

McFly improves on the venerable history command with a customizable interface and contextualized results.

The history command brings previously used commands forward to use again. So what could be a more appropriate name for a history replacement than the last name of Michael J. Fox’s character in Back to the Future? McFly [1] replaces history with an improved interface and more contextualized results that are generated with an AI-based algorithm and an SQLite database. Although no quicker with results than history, McFly offers numerous advantages:

  • Results are displayed full-screen, with basic commands summarized in the titlebar (Figure 1).
  • Information is given about when a result was run and in which directory, if it was not in your home directory, as well as if it failed. Failed results are usually not displayed.
  • Priority is given to the present working directory.
  • Results take into account other commands that in the past were run after the command.


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