Zach Adams Web Developer and Programmer

Making a custom bash prompt

June 12, 2014

After using XUbuntu as my main OS I loved it, but there was one problem. I got really tired of seeing the ENTIRE directory in the bash prompt, especially when working with WordPress. For those of you with the same problem here’s how I got mine looking nice again:

Open your .bashrc with

(vim|gedit|emacs) ~/.bashrc

Add the following to the bottom

PS1="$ [#W] "

This will tell bash that you want your your primary prompt string (PS1) to be equal to the dollar sign plus the basename of the current working directory (W) inside the square brackets with a pound symbol in front of it. I’ve found this to be much nicer on the eyes and feels better when working.

If you want to further edit your bash prompt here’s the full list of things you can add like W.

  • a : an ASCII bell character (07)
  • d : the date in “Weekday Month Date” format (e.g., “Tue May 26”)
  • D{format} : the format is passed to strftime(3) and the result is inserted into the prompt string; an empty format results in a locale-specific time representation. The braces are required
  • e : an ASCII escape character (033)
  • h : the hostname up to the first ‘.’
  • H : the hostname
  • j : the number of jobs currently managed by the shell
  • l : the basename of the shell’s terminal device name
  • n : newline
  • r : carriage return
  • s : the name of the shell, the basename of $0 (the portion following the final slash)
  • t : the current time in 24-hour HH:MM:SS format
  • T : the current time in 12-hour HH:MM:SS format
  • @ : the current time in 12-hour am/pm format
  • A : the current time in 24-hour HH:MM format
  • u : the username of the current user
  • v : the version of bash (e.g., 2.00)
  • V : the release of bash, version + patch level (e.g., 2.00.0)
  • w : the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde
  • W : the basename of the current working directory, with $HOME abbreviated with a tilde
  • ! : the history number of this command
  • # : the command number of this command
  • $ : if the effective UID is 0, a #, otherwise a $
  • nnn : the character corresponding to the octal number nnn
  •  : a backslash
  • [ : begin a sequence of non-printing characters, which could be used to embed a terminal control sequence into the prompt
  • ] : end a sequence of non-printing characters


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