Virtual Assistants for Linux You Can Use on Your Desktop

Virtual Assistant Linux Featured Image

You have most likely heard about virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and even Google Assistant. It isn’t common, however, to hear about virtual assistants for Linux. That doesn’t mean Linux doesn’t have anything to offer, however. Here, we’ll take a look at two virtual assistants that are available for Linux.

1. Betty

Betty is a command-line based virtual assistant. You can easily carry out various commands with Betty simply just by typing in a command which asks the question you want answered. Commands are entered in natural language, which is a big plus since this can help you if you don’t remember a particular command.

Installing Betty

To install Betty, first run the following command:

After completing the installation, you can go ahead and start having fun with Betty. You can make Betty do things like tell you the time and tell you your username. For example, if you wanted to know the time, you would type the following command:

Virtual Assistant Linux Betty Date Command

If you request something that Betty can’t do, you will receive a warning message.

Virtual Assistant Linux Betty Warning

You can do things like controlling your music player and finding out information about files, too. Betty can’t carry out advanced commands like starting timers, but simpler commands are fair game. It could be a useful tool for someone who’s new to Linux since it can help carry out simpler commands without having to memorize them. After seeing what the command is, it is sure to be stuck in a user’s memory, especially after seeing it enough times.

2. Mycroft

Mycroft is an open-source voice assistant that runs on a number of platforms including Linux. The company even provides hardware devices that run the assistant.

How to Install Mycroft

You can install Mycroft for distributions based on Debian.

Otherwise, you can install the software via git. You can do that with the following series of commands:

To run Mycroft, use the following commands:

To stop Mycroft, use:

After installing Mycroft, you will have to create a Mycroft account and add your Linux machine to your devices for the assistant to work properly. Simply head to the Devices section of the Mycroft website and hit “Add Device.”

Virtual Assistant Linux Mycroft Add Device

Mycroft will provide you with an activation code to enter. Enter the code and then you’ll be ready to start using Mycroft.

Using Mycroft

Mycroft is fairly advanced, and you can do things like ask it to play the news or ask it to set a timer. Mycroft is speech-based, so you won’t have to worry about entering commands. For example, if you wanted to set a timer for five minutes, you literally just have to say “Set a timer for five minutes.” Mycroft will detect your speech and then get your timer started.

Virtual Assistant Linux Mycroft Commands

Mycroft is pretty good at converting speech to text, and I didn’t experience any major problems with it understanding me.

You can stop Mycroft by saying “Hey Mycroft stop.” You can even add additional skills to Mycroft. For example, you can add things like an audio recorder skill and a reminder skill. It is a much more advanced platform than Betty and is always learning, so it will continue to get better.

Mycroft is a refreshing open-source AI virtual assistant. The company even sells hardware smart speakers that have functionality similar to devices like the Amazon Echo.

Virtual Assistant Linux Mycroft Hardware

It’s refreshing to see that there are useful virtual assistants for Linux. It’s true that there are some other solutions that exist, but these two are the most reliable. Betty is a simple command-line based assistant, while Mycroft offers more advanced features. It would actually be useful to have both of them running, since Betty is really useful when you want to do simple things while using the command line. For the more full-blown virtual assistant stuff, like asking for the weather forecast, Mycroft is your best bet.

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William Elcock William Elcock

William has been fiddling with tech for as long as he remembers. This naturally transitioned into helping friends with their tech problems and then into tech blogging.

3 comments

  1. For some reason it didn’t work on my Mint 19.3 Z400 workstation. The error message was:

    Command ‘betty’ not found, did you mean:
    command ‘getty’ from deb util-linux
    Try: sudo apt install

    Curl and git were already the latest version so installed ruby etc.

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