Linux Console Colors & Other Tricks
Available ColorsNow, how do you know which codes do what? The first eight basic EGA colors are defined as follows:
30 black foreground 31 red foreground 32 green foreground 33 brown foreground 34 blue foreground 35 magenta (purple) foreground 36 cyan (light blue) foreground 37 gray foreground
echo -e "The \033[36mocean\033[0m is deep."
Combining CommandsMultiple console codes can be issued simultaneously by using a semicolon (";"). One useful command is "1", which sets text to bold. The actual effect is a lighter shade of the chosen color. So, to get a light magenta (purple) as shown in the first example, you would do this:
echo -e "\033[35;1mCombining console codes\033[0m"
BackgroundsText backgrounds can also be set with console codes, allowing you to have white on top of red (for example). Here is the full list of available background options:
40 black background 41 red background 42 green background 43 brown background 44 blue background 45 magenta background 46 cyan background 47 white background
echo -e "\033[45;37mGrey on purple.\033[0m"
0 reset all attributes to their defaults 1 set bold 5 set blink 7 set reverse video 22 set normal intensity 25 blink off 27 reverse video off
ConclusionAnd now you have the answer to boring, plain ol' console text. A splash of color can liven up almost any display, creating better aesthetics as well as improving the overall feel.
Unfortunately, these techniques are limited to the console, as they don't display over telnet (unless the remote interface is also a Linux console).
Note that the codes given here are known as ECMA-48 compliant. That is, they work on systems other than Linux. (In case you're interested, ECMA is the European Computer Manufacturers Association, a standards body similar to the ISO). Any system with a VT-102 capable console can use the color codes demonstrated above.
Related Resources1. ECMA This is the page that covers Standard ECMA-48, "Control Functions for Coded Character Sets".
2. "man console_codes" The console_codes man page contains substantial information on not only ECMA-48 compliant codes, but the Linux-specific ones as well.
3. The Linux Documentation Project The LDP is a vast storehouse of Linux-related knowledge.
About AuthorJay Link is twentysomething and lives in Springfield, Illinois. Aside from Linux, his interests include mountain climbing and flying. He administrates InterLink BBS (an unintentionally not-for-profit Internet provider) in his fleeting spare moments, as well as working various odd jobs to pay the rent.
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