May 26, 2018

Colorizing the Linux Command Line

A Little Color for Readability

  • August 11, 2009
  • By Juliet Kemp

Juliet Kemp

I find that a little color on the command line helps make things easier to read. ls is easy to colorize: just add the line:

alias ls='ls --color=auto'

in your ~/.bashrc (then source it or open another terminal).

You can also set color up for your manpages. The easiest way to do this is using most as a pager: Install the most package, and then type

export MANPAGER="/usr/bin/most -s"

Try looking at a man page and you'll suddenly see it in color! However, most isn't as good as less as a pager, and if you're accustomed to less you don't necessarily want to retrain your fingers to new commands. An alternative is to set up assorted termcap-related environment variables to provide colors. Add these lines to your .bashrc:

export LESS_TERMCAP_mb=$'E'01;31m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_md=$'E'01;31m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_me=$'E'0m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_se=$'E'0m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_so=$'E'01;44;33m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_ue=$'E'0m'
export LESS_TERMCAP_us=$'E'01;32m'

(with thanks to the CLUG wiki, which also has some other tips). Source your ~/.bashrc and type export MANPAGER="less" to clear the most setting (or just open a new terminal window) and take a look at a man page.

Note: not all systems automatically source ~/.bashrc on login. If you're having problems, trying manually sourcing ~/.bashrc, and if that works, add a line

source ~/.bashrc

to your ~/.bash_profile.

Finally, you can install the package grc to provide color for certain commands (check /etc/grc.conf to confirm which ones -- you can also add your own definitions here). Use it like this:

grc diff file1 file2

Although in the case of diff, a better solution may be to use vimdiff or gvimdiff, both of which provide colors by default and also puts the files side-by-side in a much easier to read format.

Follow ServerWatch on Twitter

Article courtesy of Serverwatch

Most Popular LinuxPlanet Stories

We have made updates to our Privacy Policy to reflect the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation.