Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm running a command-line Debian system, accessed via SSH through PuTTY, and am experiencing differing terminal functionality between root and other users.

When logging in as root, the terminal displays


as I'd expect for a Debian system - I'm also able to use standard arrow key shortcuts (Up arrow key displays previous commands, etc.) However, when logged in as any other user, the terminal prompt simply shows $, and arrow keys register as ^[[A (for Up) etc.

I'm curious to know what's causing this behavior, and how I can change it.

share|improve this question

migrated from Jun 10 '13 at 16:18

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

Have you compared /home/root/.bashrc and /home/root/.bash_profile to the corresponding files in /home/other_user? – nrpeterson Jun 10 '13 at 14:27
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Are you sure you're not running dash as your default shell when you login as another user? On my computer it looks exactly like you describe:

self@debian~$ dash
$ ^[[A^[[A

It goes the same for sh (which actually seems to be an alias to dash) :

self@debian~$ sh
$ ^[[A^[[A
share|improve this answer
This was indeed the issue, thanks - running echo $SHELL as otherUser came up with /bin/sh. Changing this was simple - ran chsh and entered bin/bash. This from here – FarmerGedden Jun 10 '13 at 14:40

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.