I'm trying to change the color of my shell which I connect to using Putty.

When I type this

export PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;32m\]\u@\h:\w\$ '

I get exactly what I want. Everything is green and it's only applied for the root user so I can distinguish root from other users.

However, when I put this code (without "export") in /root/.bashrc, I get this effect when I change the current shell to bash using the command bash.



How can I make my shell green, without switching to "bash" everytime I connect, i.e. how can I apply this to the default shell aswell?

Debian 8.3 (Jessie) is used here

  • ~/.bashrc is read by Bash, what shell are you using?
    – kos
    Feb 13, 2016 at 1:04
  • echo $SHELL returns /bin/bash, so I'm obviously using bash. Why does this not work then?
    – bytecode77
    Feb 13, 2016 at 1:11
  • Okay, I came closer now. When I create a file named .profile with the content . ~/.bashrc, I get the green shell, but the text above the first input prompt is still gray. Is there a way to solve this?
    – bytecode77
    Feb 13, 2016 at 1:17
  • 1
    Yeah, ~/.bashrc is read only by non-login shells, ~/.profile is read by login shells. Putting it in /etc/profile instead should change the color of the MOTD as well.
    – kos
    Feb 13, 2016 at 1:29
  • Can you please put an answer with a description where exactly to put what and make everything (including MOTD) green, but only for root user?
    – bytecode77
    Feb 13, 2016 at 1:36

1 Answer 1


The problem is ~/.bashrc is not read by login shells, and hence it's not read by the shell you get by logging in via SSH.

As you've noticed already, ~/.profile is read by login shells, so that's a way to set the color, but it doesn't affect the MOTD.

On Debian the MOTD is stored in /etc/motd; here's a command which will append the correct escape sequences at the start and at the end of the file:

printf '\e[0;32m' | sudo perl -i -pe 'if($. == 1) { $_ = <STDIN>.$_ }' /etc/motd; printf '\e[0m' | sudo tee -a /etc/motd


The \e[0;32m will set the color to green at the start, the \e[0m will reset the all the attributes at the end; this way the MOTD is changed without affecting what's printed after; if you don't want to reset the attributes at the end (affecting what's printed after the MOTD), just drop the last command:

printf '\e[0;32m' | sudo perl -i -pe 'if($. == 1) { $_ = <STDIN>.$_ }' /etc/motd
  • ~/.profile was very helpful. I won't set the MOTD color, though, because I want green color only for the root user. But with the profile set to green, this is the closest to what I wanted to achieve. +1
    – bytecode77
    Feb 13, 2016 at 10:49

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