On my AIX box, which is using ksh as the default shell, I'd like the prompt to show both the date and time followed by a newline \n, along with the name of the machine, and the working directory.

Something like:

2014/08/05 10:58:43
[username]machinename:/some/path/here $

I've tried the following:

unset _Y _M _D _h _m _s
eval $(date "+_Y=%Y;_M=%m;_D=%d;_h=%H;_m=%M;_s=%S")
typeset -Z2 _h _m _s
_tsub="(_m=(SECONDS/60%60)) == (_h=(SECONDS/3600%24)) + (_s=(SECONDS%60))"
_timedhms=$_Y'/'$_M'/'$_D" "'${_x[_tsub]}$_h:$_m:${_s}'

PS1="$_timedhms'\n' "'[USERNAME]MACHINE:${PWD#$HOME/} $ '

However, there is no newline between the date/time and the rest of the prompt. It seems now matter what the combination of quotes I try, I cannot get a newline to appear in PS1.

  • Double quoted strings in ksh do not automatically interpret \n as a newline. As Gnouc demonstrates there are workarounds.
    – chicks
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 17:30

2 Answers 2


You can use the literal newline in PS1:


or using $'\n' with ksh93:

PS1="$_timedhms$'\n' [USERNAME]MACHINE:${PWD#$HOME/} $ "
  • The literal newline works, however the $'\n' does not appear to work at all. I just get an n displayed inline. Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 17:37
  • It seems only work with ksh93. Updated my answer.
    – cuonglm
    Commented Aug 5, 2014 at 17:48

There is pretty simple way to do this:

export PS1=$(echo "\033[01;33m"`date +%D`" "`date +%T`"\033[0m""\n"`whoami`@"\033[3;36m"`hostname`"\033[0m"':$PWD'#)

If you want to set this permanently add the entry to '/etc/profile'.

  • Or ~/.profile is you don't want to force it on everyone
    – Jeff Schaller
    Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 0:37
  • Speaking of permanently — this sets the prompt to permanently/perpetually display the current date/time (i.e., the instant when you login, or otherwise set the prompt string), rather than the date/time when the prompt is issued. Commented Sep 24, 2016 at 0:58

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