Typing Practice with speedpad

đź“… March 10, 2017
Can you type faster than a robot?

The Ubuntu Linux repository is filled with lesser-known gems that are surprisingly useful and fun. Speedpad is one of them.

This a typing practice program that displays a random quote from fortune, but you compete against a typing robot.



Simply install speedpad from Synaptic or the command line.

sudo apt-get install speedpad

This is a terminal-abased program, so run it by entering speedpad at the command prompt.

Speedpad also needs fortune installed (if it is not already installed).

sudo apt-get install fortune


Speedpad in Action

You will be greeted with an organized interface that displays a random quote. Press Enter to begin.

Speedpad displays sportsmanship by waiting for you to make the first keystroke.

By default, the speedpad robot is limited to a speed of 100 WPM (words per minute.)

Who is ahead in the typing race? The robot is red, and you (the user) is white along with a numerical ranking. The % shows the total completion.

Upon completion of the quote, statistics are displayed in the bottom pane. Here, the robot won at 20 WPM while the user managed 15 WPM.

Pressing Enter will display a new quote, but if you want to practice the existing quote again, press CTRL+X. Press CTRL+Q to exit the program.

Winner! The user completed the quote at 25 WPM, but notice the errors. If you make any typing mistakes, they will be highlighted during the results. Case also matters.


Changing the Default Target WPM

Observing man speedpad lists a number of command-line arguments. To change the default WPM from 100 to something else, such as 20, enter

speedpad --speed 20

This limits the robot speed to 20 WPM because it can become disheartening to always lose to a computer.

Changing the Quotes

Since speedpad retrieves its quotes from the fortune program, you can use the -c option to modify the fortune quotes, such as length (some are too long for comfort).

speedpad -c -- fortune -n 100

This limits the quote length to 100 characters.

speedpad --speed 20 -c -- fortune -n 100

This sets the robot speed to 20 and limits the fortune quote length to 100 characters.

Custom Words and Sentences

You can even use a text file containing custom sentences.

speedpad -c -- cat words.txt


speedpad words.txt

Custom word list from a text file named words.txt.

The entire file is displayed at once with this example. This is useful for custom wordlists.

One Line at a Time

What if we want to show one line at a time from a custom text file?

Since speedpad appears to execute its -c option for each new word (Enter), we can write a script that chooses a line at random from a text file. Here is a quick Python3 script (named select.py) that picks one line at random for display in speedpad:

#!/usr/bin/env python3
# Filename: select.py

import random
wordlist = 'words.txt'

with open(wordlist) as f:
    lines = f.readlines()


At the command-line, enter

speedpad -c -- python3 select.py

Same words.txt file, but one line is displayed at a time instead of the entire file.

Another line is chosen at random from the words.txt file.

This script is simple, so it will need to be modified to handle characters that need to be escaped.


Keyboard typing skills are indispensable for writing and programming. Need typing practice? Try speedpad! Speedpad is a quick and easy program that provides a way to hone your keyboard-warrior skills using real sentences.



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