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Why do I lose ls' colors when I ssh to a server?

I would like those colors to be preserved. Is this possible? Should one do something on the server side?

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Does it work when you run ls -G? Does the server's shell have CLICOLOR and LSCOLORS set? (i.e. echo $LSCOLORS) – slhck May 20 '12 at 15:31
ls -G don't show colors. If I do ls --color I get some. I don't know if the server shell as CLICOLOR and LSCOLORS set. If I echo CLICOLOR and LSCOLORS I got an empty line with nothing displayed. – MEM May 20 '12 at 15:36
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The server doesn't use a colored ls command by default.

You can alias your ls command to always use colors in one of the server's shell configuration files (e.g. ~/.bashrc) with the --color=auto option.

alias ls='ls --color=auto'

Some additional remarks:

  • If the server runs Linux, the above should be enough to get colors working. You can use an LSCOLORS generator to manually specify the colors in a shell configuration file by adding:

    export LS_COLORS=…
  • If the server runs BSD / OS X, you additionally need the following for ls to automatically show colors (you then don't even need to specify an alias):

    export CLICOLORS=1

    Also, here it's not LS_COLORS, but LSCOLORS, and the syntax is different (see the LSCOLORS generator output).

    export LSCOLORS=…
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Thanks. I believe I have no write access but, I'm using iterm2 with solarize. If I do ls --color what colors will it use ? Can we do something like export TERM =xterm-color or we can't do this since this is on our remote machine? – MEM May 20 '12 at 15:47
It'll use the default colors specified on that machine. You can try changing the meaning of colors in iTerm's preferences though. – slhck May 20 '12 at 15:49

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