I've recently switched to Parrot linux and I'm very happy with it, but there's just one thing, this default fancy bash prompt is really ugly. I used zsh before, and for some reasons I want to go back to bash but I'd love to get the same prompt "theme" that I had with zsh, whish was very sober.

zsh "fishy" theme

I especially like the way it only display the first character of the directories names in the path except the current one.

I'm searching how I could write this in the .bashrc but I'm not finding anything.

  • It did, thanks a lot and sorry for the delay.
    – Zest
    Jan 16, 2019 at 23:34

1 Answer 1


Borrowing heavily from Dennis Kaarsemaker's answer:

PROMPT_COMMAND='_abbrev_pwd=$(sed -e "s:$HOME:~:" -e "s:/\(.\)[^/]*:/\1:g" <<< "$(dirname "$PWD")")/"$(basename "$PWD")"'
PS1='\u@\h ${_abbrev_pwd}> '

The PROMPT_COMMAND variable is a special bash variable that is executed each time a prompt is about to be printed. The code here sets a variable named _abbrev_pwd to the concatenation of the following elements:

  • the output of a sed command: $(sed -e ... <<< ...)
  • a forward slash /
  • the "current" directory: $(basename "$PWD")

The sed command itself takes a here-string as input; that here-string is the result of calling dirname "$PWD" in order to strip off the current directory. That string is then subject to two replacements (given in the -e sed options):

  1. replace any appearance of your "$HOME" directory with a tilde, and
  2. replace any path element (forward slash, a captured single character ., then any number of non-forward-slashes) with a forward slash followed by that (captured) single character; repeat that pattern match "globally" with the g flag. I've used : as the sed search & replace delimiter instead of the common /, in order to avoid leaning toothpick syndrome in trying to escape the desired forward slashes.

Lastly, we set PS1 to use the _abbrev_pwd variable where you would normally put the $PWD.

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