the prompt

What makes a good bash prompt?

Ubuntu 17.10 has a nice easy to look at prompt but it doesn’t give you a lot of information.

lawrence@laptop:~$ _

It’s nice to have some information relevent to your current task

[lawrence@laptop] [develop !? -]
~/code/dotty > _

Or tasks you have backgrounded

[lawrence@laptop] [jobs: 1 running 2 stopped]
~/code/dotty > _

Or the exit code of your last command

[lawrence@laptop] [130]
~/code/dotty > _

The following functions give us all we need to put the information above into our terminal prompt. You can find them in full here

#!/usr/bin/env bash

function nonzero_return() {

function get_git_author() {

function get_git_branch() {

function get_git_dirty {

function get_background_job_count {

function get_load_average {

function get_current_versions {

We can then inject the information into our prompt with the following:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

THIS_DIR="$( cd "$( dirname "${BASH_SOURCE[0]}" )" && pwd )"

source $THIS_DIR/

function generate_ps1 {
    local CURRENT_TERM_WIDTH="$(tput cols)"

    local COLOUR_GRAY="\033[1;30m"
    local COLOUR_LIGHT_GRAY="\033[0;37m"
    local COLOUR_CYAN="\033[0;36m"
    local COLOUR_RED="\033[0;31m"
    local COLOUR_YELLOW="\033[0;33m"
    local COLOUR_ORANGE="\033[1;31m"
    local COLOUR_NONE="\033[0m"

    local LAST_EXIT_CODE=$(nonzero_return)

    local USERNAME=$(whoami)
    local HOSTNAME=$(hostname)
    local GIT_CURRENT_BRANCH=$(get_git_branch)
    local GIT_CURRENT_AUTHOR=$(get_git_author)
    local BACKGROUND_JOBS=$(get_background_job_count)
    local GET_CLI_VERSIONS=$(get_current_versions)


    # if [ "$(tput cols)" -gt "100" ]; then
    # fi


    echo -e "$TOP_LINE\n$PROMPT"

export PS1="\`generate_ps1\`"

Using the above we get a really nice looking prompt with all the information you could want at your fingertips.

Nice looking prompt you have there

the aliases

Ubuntu includes some nice default aliases ll is an alias of ls -al and can have more arguments added to it ll -h works perfectly well.

some i use

# colour grep output for ease of use
alias grep='grep --color=auto'
alias egrep='egrep --color=auto'
alias fgrep='fgrep --color=auto'

# confirm file operations
alias mv='mv -i'
alias cp='cp -i'
alias ln='ln -i'

# handy ls aliases
alias ll='ls -al'
alias l='ls -l'
alias la='ls -a'

# handy php version switcher
function phpswitch {
    if [ "$(which php$1)" != "" ]; then
        alias php="php$1"
        echo "Switched to php$1 successfully"
        echo "Could not find php$1"

more to come

I will updating my .dotty project to include more and more useful bash shortcuts and working towards the perfect setup as I go.

.dotty - A set of bash terminal customisations geared toward developers working with linux.