My command prompt

Jan 26, 2017

I really like working in the command line, it just feels right for many tasks. When I first saw a GUI (Windows 98) as a child I could not figure out how to create a new folder so I opened a command prompt and used “the DOS window” to create the folder. I was 11 years old. Fast forward to today, I almost always have a terminal open and I spent way too much time on fiddling with the prompt I use.

This is what my prompt looks like in my home directory.

~ ➜

The key is minimalism. I don’t like the path taking up much space in long prompts so I only show the name of the current directory. I was not sure when I made this change, but in practice the name of the current directory is enough to orient myself and the few (really rare) times when it is not I simply issue a pwd.

space ➜ pwd

However I find it is useful to add context aware information to the prompt. Like the current git branch.

.dotfiles (git:master) ➜

Or the currently active python virtualenv.

~ (venv:myvirtualenv) ➜

Or the currently active rust toolchain, managed by rustup.

rustup_prompt_helper (rust:nightly) (git:master) ➜

All these additional things will appear based on environment variables and files in the current directory so they are not in the way when they would not be useful. Most if these are implemented in fish shell’s own language and I wrote a small utility script in rust, called rustup prompt helper, that prints the toolchain information.

And finally here is a screenshot to show what it looks like on my machine, with pretty colors.

colorful fish prompt

The full config of my fish prompt can be found in my dotfiles repository on GitHub.

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