Where is the setting that determines what the bash prompt looks like? Specifically on Arch, but I'm sure others would like to know for other distros too if it's different.

Speficially I'd like to use (K)Ubuntu's prompt

4 Answers 4


The environment Variables "$PS1" and "$PS2" set the prompt's look. You can check this howto in order to see all the different variables you can put in there. `


As tante said, you have to set the $PS1(left prompt) (and optionally $PS2(second line prompt)).

(Others variable exists on other shells like $RPS1 (right prompt) for zsh)

The best thing to do is to edit your .bashrc file in your home directory and add something like :

export PS1=...

I will give you an additionnal link that I always find useful because there's a good list of the avalaible colors.

  • 2
    $PS2 is the prompt you get when writing a command over multiple lines, not the right prompt. The right prompt would be $RPS1 (and $RPS2 accordingly for multiple lines) on zsh - bash has no right prompt.
    – sepp2k
    Oct 12, 2010 at 9:56
  • 1
    $PS2 contains the second promptline if a shell needs more input, not the right prompt.
    – echox
    Oct 12, 2010 at 9:57
  • Indeed, I've just got confused when I wrote this answer. Corrected.
    – Elenaher
    Oct 12, 2010 at 10:05
  • You should probably remove the bit about the right prompt altogether because that only exists in zsh and the question is about bash.
    – sepp2k
    Oct 12, 2010 at 13:47
  • @seppk : thanks for the comment. I have used zsh for many years and here at work I have to use bash. I didn't notice that RPS1 wasn't available on it.
    – Elenaher
    Oct 12, 2010 at 14:52

As others have said, this is determined by the environment vars PS1 and PS2.

Ubuntu's default ps1 is: ${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$

So you'll want to run the following:

export PS1=${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$

To run that every time you log in, put it in your ~/.bashrc file:

echo "export PS1=${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$" >> ~/.bashrc

Since you asked specifically about Arch (well, it doesn't really matter, but it makes a nice excuse to add to the answers...), you should look at this entry in the Arch Wiki: Color Bash Prompt. And for even more fun, this thread in the Arch Forums: What's your PS1?. (Pages and pages of people trying to outdo each other with more and more elaborate prompts.... that's the typical Arch user for you.)

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