Shiny, Happy Linux OS Terminals With Bashish

by Juliet Kemp

Tip of the Trade: With spring in the air outside, why not add some color to your Linux OS powered terminals? Bashish offers a fun and simple way to add themes to your terminal.

In the mood for a bit more color in your life? Check out Bashish to try out themes for your terminal.

I installed from source due to problems with the Debian repository; if doing this, note that you'll need to install the dialog package manually via apt-get. Once you've run ./configure; make; sudo make install, run bashish to get things set up properly. Then restart a terminal to get the default theme.

bashish list shows the theme list and bashish THEMENAME switches theme. Try elite for a multi-line prompt, moan for something more basic, or flowerpower for a floral look!

Basish in action
Figure 1
Basish in action

You can mess around with the theme colors on the command-line with color COLORNAME, or bashish THEMENAME COLOR1 COLOR2 for multiple color changes. title "mytitle" will change the window title, which is useful when you're switching between multiple terminals.

To set other values, you can create your own theme (see the Bashish Theme HOWTO for details) or edit the .bashish/overrides/theme to set particular values that will always override the theme. I prefer my terminals to be black-on-white, so I added these two lines to this file:

Similarly, you can override the prompt information in ~/.bashish/overrides/prompt.sh. See the Bash Prompt HOWTO for an extensive list of codes to use in bash prompts.

In theory, Bashish can use specific themes for particular applications (set by running bashishtheme). Unfortunately I couldn't get this to work -- this does highlight one problem with Bashish, which is its lack of user documentation. However, for me the extended prompts and ease of setting the terminal title is enough to make it worthwhile.

Bashish works best on Linux terminals, but it does have some limited support for Terminal on MacOSX, and PuTTY.

Thanks to the SourceForge blog for the heads-up on this project!

Juliet Kemp has been messing around with Linux systems, for financial reward and otherwise, for about a decade. She is also the author of "Linux System Administration Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach" (Apress, 2009).

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This article was originally published on Monday Apr 12th 2010
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