I find it very productive working in a terminal environment, as it’s efficient and flexible to deal with processes and data, especially text, and especially on remote machines. Good patch terminal program terminals have advanced in capability over time, with some form of “xterm” being the usual terminal of choice. Therefore one should not restrict programs to their usual monochrome defaults, as colour can be used to greatly ease the parsing of text by humans.
It’s a pity that most programs don’t enable colours automatically when available, requiring the user to explicitly configure them to do so. Though I am starting to notice newer commands like “htop” for example use colours by default when possible, which is a much more sensible approach given the capabilities of terminals today. Note I’m not going to describe colour settings that most people know about already. 256 colours “xterm”, “konsole” and “gnome-terminal” on my Fedora 8 distribution at least, support 256 colours. To configure applications to use 256 colours when available, just set the TERM environment variable to xterm-256color, which I do in my .
Note you can hover over the screenshots above to see how the 8 colour version requires extensive use of the “bold” attribute to get the desired colours. The 256 colour version doesn’t need to use “bold” for this, but unfortunately it does for certain highlighted items. I always disable the display of bold text anyway in my xterm settings as I think it looks terrible. Current linux distributions default to light backgrounds so it’s sometimes necessary to tweak program settings accordingly which I’ve detailed before. Highlighting searches When searching through text it’s very useful to highlight the specific thing you’re searching for. Colouring logs There are many programs available to colour logs like grc or logtool, as it is very useful to highlight particular info in log files, or to colour various fields to aid in parsing logs.