I have a Raspberry Pi hooked up to an E-Ink screen. To make it more readable, I'd like to basically invert all the colors (it is currently white text on black background, I'd like black text on white background). I can use X11 and a window manager, but I'd really like to make it light weight and just use tmux in the linux terminal as my interface.

So basically, I want to make the background of the linux terminal white and the foreground black.

I've tried escape sequences, LS_COLORS, and tput but all those seem to only affect the parts of the screen that have text, so the parts of the screen that are blank end up black. I looked at (but did not try) PaperTTY but I would like to work with the linux terminal rather than a terminal emulator.

I'm not sure how to go about this, but it seems like I need to adjust a more low level setting so that something like tput setab 0 would result in a white background (or something like that).

If it affects anything, I am on Arch Arm and bash.

  • You might have some luck with setterm --inversescreen on, but see this answer.
    – meuh
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 13:37
  • @meuh That worked perfect, if you want to put it as an answer, I'll mark it as accepted. The reference was really helpful too.
    – dmcblue
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 13:48

1 Answer 1


There's a long detailed answer about this subject by JdeBP from which the salient point is that you should be able to give the command

setterm --inversescreen on

in many terminals on Linux to set the "DECSCNM (DEC Screen Mode)" to whole screen inverse video.

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