I'm using virtualenv, virtualenvwrapper, zsh, oh-my-zsh, terminator, on Crunchbang.

I'm trying to display the name of the current virtualenv like so

workon example

I've tried many solutions none seems to work, here's my .zshrc file, I know it's no big deal to fix it but I can't find the right solution. It has been a long time since the last time I used Linux for Django development, I forgot what I used to do.

Right now, I see username@crunchbang, I can't tell which virtualenv I'm using.

  • I believe you're asking how to set your prompt so that it shows which virtualenv you're in, correct? – slm Aug 16 '13 at 23:54
  • @slm yes exactly – Lynob Aug 16 '13 at 23:57

Shell's prompt

Inside your virtualenv environment is a file, bin/activate. You can edit this file to change your prompt to whatever you want it to look like. Specifically this section of the file:

    PS1="(`basename \"$VIRTUAL_ENV\"`)$PS1"

The variable PS1 is a special variable that controls what a shell's prompt will look like. Changing its value will change your virtualenv prompt:

PS1="(this is my prompt) "


  1. Create a sample environment.

    $ virtualenv tst-env
  2. When you're using virtualenv you typically source this file.

    $ cd $HOME/tst-env
    $ source bin/activate
    (tst-env)[saml@grinchy tst-env]$ 
  3. After making the above change to the variable PS1 in the bin/activate file my prompt is now this:

    $ source bin/activate

Here are the official instructions on how to do this.

  • tried it now, didn't fix it – Lynob Aug 17 '13 at 9:10
  • here's my activate file pastebin.com/tZqdr1Yz – Lynob Aug 17 '13 at 11:11
  • What happens when you source the activate file? Your file worked fine for me. – slm Aug 17 '13 at 12:32
  • i see no output, so i can't tell what happens, the virtualenv is working other than that i see nothing, maybe it's .zshrc issue or virtualenvwrapper? can this issue be debugged? please note i have 2 virualenv executable files, the normal virtualenv and virtualenv-2.7 is this normal or did virtualenv got downloaded twice? and this is how i installed virtualenv and virualenvwrapper in case it matters sudo pip install virtualenv – Lynob Aug 17 '13 at 13:02
  • @Fischer - I just double checked it using zsh and it works with that too, so this is most likely an env. issue. Let's ignore the 2 virtualenv's setups for the time being. To debug you can enable it, set -x, in your shell and then re-run the source activate command again. You should see PS1= lines where the prompt is getting set. – slm Aug 17 '13 at 14:11

If you're using virtualenvwrapper and zsh there are a number of zsh hooks in your ~/.virtualenvs/ directory that you can use to customize your environments. Here is a bit of info regarding these. You can force an update to PS1 that will prepend the current working virtualenv to your shell prompt by adding:

PS1="(`basename \"$VIRTUAL_ENV\"`) $PS1"
builtin \export PS1

to ~/.virtualenvs/postactivate. To remove the tag when you deactivate, add:

builtin export PS1

to ~/.virtualenvs/postdeactivate

The only (plausible) thing that should break this is resourcing ~/.zshrc while working in a virtualenv

  • I believe you're postdeactivate script has a mistake. it should read PS1=$_OLD_VIRTUAL_PS1 builtin \export PS1 – Greg Hilston Feb 2 '17 at 16:35

You don't have to edit your ~/.zshrc.

Since you are working with virtualenvwrapper it's possible to add options or hooks to $WORKON_HOME/post(de)activate files.

If you want to see more details consult here.

The above link allow me to do next:

In my case $WORKON_HOME=~/Envs because I modified this path when I installed virtualenvwrapper; if you didn't you should have the folder ~/.virtualenvs.

  1. Open the file postactivate located in $WORKON_HOME

  2. Add these lines:

    RPROMPT="%{${fg_bold[white]}%}(env: %{${fg[green]}%}`basename \"$VIRTUAL_ENV\"`%{${fg_bold[white]}%})%{${reset_color}%} $RPROMPT"
  3. Save and enjoy!

    You will obtain something like this: done

  4. (OPTIONAL) If you want you could edit the postdeactivate file to add this line:


I just test it on ubuntu 14.04 and i had the same problem. To fix it add this to your .zshrc

source /usr/share/virtualenvwrapper/virtualenvwrapper.sh

or run this in terminal

echo source /usr/share/virtualenvwrapper/virtualenvwrapper.sh >> ~/.zshrc

In Mac OS X I had to do

echo source /usr/local/bin/virtualenvwrapper.sh >> ~/.zshrc

If you know the theme that is being used, you can add a function to retrieve the activated VIRTUAL_ENV base name and use it in the PROMPT variable in the *.zsh-theme file located at ~/.oh-my-zsh/themes/ and that should do the trick!

For me it was the default 'oh-my-zsh' theme i.e. 'robbyrussels' which was configured.

function virtualenv_info {
    [ $VIRTUAL_ENV ] && echo '('`basename $VIRTUAL_ENV`') '

local ret_status="%(?:%{$fg_bold[green]%}➜ :%{$fg_bold[red]%}➜ )"
PROMPT='${ret_status} $(virtualenv_info) %{$fg[cyan]%}%c%{$reset_color%} $(git_prompt_info)'

Adding the above code generated the below result:

enter image description here

(kunkka.com) is the virtualenv which I just deactivated.

After editing the theme file don't forget to source the .zshrc file.

-> source ~/.zshrc

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