Linux Know-How provides a collection of introductory texts on often needed Linux skills.

Colour on text terminal

Colour on the text terminal can be produced using the "ANSI escape sequences". For example:

echo -e "\033[44;37;5m ME \033[0m COOL"

The above sets the background to blue, foreground white, blinking video, and prints " ME ", then resets the terminal back to defaults and prints " COOL". The "-e" is an option specific to the echo command--it enables the interpretations of the special characters. The "\033[" introduces the escape sequence. The "m" means "set attribute" and thus finishes the sequence. The actual codes in the example above are "44;37;5" and "0".

Change the "44;37;5" to produce different colour combinations--the number/order of codes do not matter. The codes to choose from are listed below:

Code Action/Color


0 reset all attributes to their defaults

1 set bold

2 set half-bright (simulated with color on a color display)

4 set underscore (simulated with color on a color display)

5 set blink

7 set reverse video

22 set normal intensity

24 underline off

25 blink off

27 reverse video off

30 set black foreground

31 set red foreground

32 set green foreground

33 set brown foreground

34 set blue foreground

35 set magenta foreground

36 set cyan foreground

37 set white foreground

38 set underscore on, set default foreground color

39 set underscore off, set default foreground color

40 set black background

41 set red background

42 set green background

43 set brown background

44 set blue background

45 set magenta background

46 set cyan background

47 set white background

49 set default background color

Other interesting codes:

\033[2J clear screen

\033[0q clear all keyboard LEDs (won't work from Xterm)

\033[1q set "Scroll Lock" LED

\033[2q set "Num Lock" LED

\033[3q set Caps Lock LED

\033[15;40H move the cursor to line 15, column 40

\007 bell (beep)

LEDs (="Light Emitting Diods) are the lights on the keyboard which indicate if <CapsLock>, <NumLock> and <ScrollLock> are engaged.

See man console_codes for more.

Last Update: 2010-12-16