terminal-colors.d — Configure output colorization for various utilities




Files in this directory determine the default behavior for utilities when coloring output.

The name is a utility name. The name is optional and when none is specified then the file is used for all unspecified utilities.

The term is a terminal identifier (the TERM environment variable). The terminal identifier is optional and when none is specified then the file is used for all unspecified terminals.

The type is a file type. Supported file types are:


Turns off output colorization for all compatible utilities.


Turns on output colorization; any matching disable files are ignored.


Specifies colors used for output. The file format may be specific to the utility, the default format is described below.

If there are more files that match for a utility, then the file with the more specific filename wins. For example, the filename "@xterm.scheme" has less priority than "dmesg@xterm.scheme". The lowest priority are those files without a utility name and terminal identifier (e.g. "disable").

The user-specific $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/terminal-colors.d or $HOME/.config/terminal-colors.d overrides the global setting.


Disable colors for all compatible utilities:

touch /etc/terminal-colors.d/disable

Disable colors for all compatible utils on a vt100 terminal:

touch /etc/terminal-colors.d/@vt100.disable

Disable colors for all compatible utils except dmesg(1):

touch /etc/terminal-colors.d/disable

touch /etc/terminal-colors.d/dmesg.enable


The following statement is recognized:

name color-sequence

The name is a logical name of color sequence (for example "error"). The names are specific to the utilities. For more details always see the COLORS section in the man page for the utility.

The color-sequence is a color name, ASCII color sequences or escape sequences.

Color names

black, blink, blue, bold, brown, cyan, darkgray, gray, green, halfbright, lightblue, lightcyan, lightgray, lightgreen, lightmagenta, lightred, magenta, red, reset, reverse, and yellow.

ANSI color sequences

The color sequences are composed of sequences of numbers separated by semicolons. The most common codes are:

0 to restore default color
1 for brighter colors
4 for underlined text
5 for flashing text
30 for black foreground
31 for red foreground
32 for green foreground
33 for yellow (or brown) foreground
34 for blue foreground
35 for purple foreground
36 for cyan foreground
37 for white (or gray) foreground
40 for black background
41 for red background
42 for green background
43 for yellow (or brown) background
44 for blue background
45 for purple background
46 for cyan background
47 for white (or gray) background

Escape sequences

To specify control or blank characters in the color sequences, C-style \-escaped notation can be used:

\a Bell (ASCII 7)
\b Backspace (ASCII 8)
\e Escape (ASCII 27)
\f Form feed (ASCII 12)
\n Newline (ASCII 10)
\r Carriage Return (ASCII 13)
\t Tab (ASCII 9)
\v Vertical Tab (ASCII 11)
\? Delete (ASCII 127)
\_ Space
\\ Backslash (\)
\^ Caret (^)
\# Hash mark (#)

Please note that escapes are necessary to enter a space, backslash, caret, or any control character anywhere in the string, as well as a hash mark as the first character.

For example, to use a red background for alert messages in the output of dmesg(1), use:

echo 'alert 37;41' >> /etc/terminal-colors.d/dmesg.scheme


Lines where the first non-blank character is a # (hash) are ignored. Any other use of the hash character is not interpreted as introducing a comment.






enables debug output.


The terminal-colors.d functionality is currently supported by all util-linux utilities which provides colorized output. For more details always see the COLORS section in the man page for the utility.


terminal-colors.d is part of the util-linux package and is available from Linux Kernel Archive

  terminal-colors.d.5 --
Copyright 2014 Ondrej Oprala <>
Copyright (C) 2014 Karel Zak <>
Copyright 2014 Red Hat, Inc.
May be distributed under the GNU General Public License