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Coloured ls output in 10 steps

Always dreamt of having the same sort of output on your Solaris machine as you would have on Linux? Here is how you go at that.

  1. Coloured output is a feature of the GNU version of ls. So you first have to obtain this version. GNU ls is in the coreutils package. You can download it from (a mirror) of sunfreeware.com.

  2. Install the package using the pkgadd command:

    root@host /var/tmp> pkgadd -d coreutils-4.5.4-sol9-sparc-local
    
    The following packages are available:
      1  SMCcoreu     coreutils
                      (sparc) 4.5.4
    
    Select package(s) you wish to process (or 'all' to process
    all packages). (default: all) [?,??,q]: y
    --output ommitted--
    
  3. This will install GNU ls and some other useful GNU programs in /usr/local/bin. Check this directory.

  4. Information about the commands can be found in /usr/local/doc and /usr/local/man. Read the documentation for the new commands, e.g. for dircolors:

    user@host ~> man -M /usr/local/man dircolors
    

    Lateron, make sure that the MANPATH variable includes /usr/local/man.

  5. Colours can also be set system wide, in that case you need a DIR_COLORS file in /etc. It may look somewhat like this:

    user@host ~> cat /etc/DIR_COLORS
    # Configuration file for the color ls utility
    # This file goes in the /etc directory, and must be world readable.
    # You can copy this file to .dir_colors in your $HOME directory to override
    # the system defaults.
    
    # COLOR needs one of these arguments: 'tty' colorizes output to ttys, but not
    # pipes. 'all' adds color characters to all output. 'none' shuts colorization
    # off.
    COLOR tty
    
    # Extra command line options for ls go here.
    # Basically these ones are:
    #  -F = show '/' for dirs, '*' for executables, etc.
    #  -T 0 = don't trust tab spacing when formatting ls output.
    OPTIONS -F -T 0
    
    # Below, there should be one TERM entry for each termtype that is colorizable
    TERM linux
    TERM console
    TERM con132x25
    TERM con132x30
    TERM con132x43
    TERM con132x60
    TERM con80x25
    TERM con80x28
    TERM con80x30
    TERM con80x43
    TERM con80x50
    TERM con80x60
    TERM cons25
    TERM xterm
    TERM rxvt
    TERM xterm-color
    TERM color-xterm
    TERM vt100
    TERM dtterm
    TERM color_xterm
    
    # EIGHTBIT, followed by '1' for on, '0' for off. (8-bit output)
    EIGHTBIT 1
    
    # Below are the color init strings for the basic file types. A color init
    # string consists of one or more of the following numeric codes:
    # Attribute codes: 
    # 00=none 01=bold 04=underscore 05=blink 07=reverse 08=concealed
    # Text color codes:
    # 30=black 31=red 32=green 33=yellow 34=blue 35=magenta 36=cyan 37=white
    # Background color codes:
    # 40=black 41=red 42=green 43=yellow 44=blue 45=magenta 46=cyan 47=white
    NORMAL 00	# global default, although everything should be something.
    FILE 00 	# normal file
    DIR 01;34 	# directory
    LINK 01;36 	# symbolic link
    FIFO 40;33	# pipe
    SOCK 01;35	# socket
    BLK 40;33;01	# block device driver
    CHR 40;33;01 	# character device driver
    ORPHAN 01;05;37;41  # orphaned syminks
    MISSING 01;05;37;41 # ... and the files they point to
    
    # This is for files with execute permission:
    EXEC 01;32 
    
    # List any file extensions like '.gz' or '.tar' that you would like ls
    # to colorize below. Put the extension, a space, and the color init string.
    # (and any comments you want to add after a '#')
    .cmd 01;32 # executables (bright green)
    .exe 01;32
    .com 01;32
    .btm 01;32
    .bat 01;32
    .sh  01;32
    .csh 01;32
    .tar 01;31 # archives or compressed (bright red)
    .tgz 01;31
    .arj 01;31
    .taz 01;31
    .lzh 01;31
    .zip 01;31
    .z   01;31
    .Z   01;31
    .gz  01;31
    .bz2 01;31
    .bz  01;31
    .tz  01;31
    .rpm 01;31
    .cpio 01;31
    .jpg 01;35 # image formats
    .gif 01;35
    .bmp 01;35
    .xbm 01;35
    .xpm 01;35
    .png 01;35
    .tif 01;35
    
  6. Test that your new setup works, using the /usr/local/bin/ls --color command in a couple of directories.

    If your colours seem ok (look also at other than plain text files), proceed to the next step.

  7. Now we don't want to type /usr/local/bin/ls --color all the time. You can solve the problem by altering your PATH variable:

    user@host ~> export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH
    

    This way, when you just type ls, the first occurance in your search path will be the ls from /usr/local/bin instead of the default one from /usr/bin.

  8. Now we already have the correct program when we call it, but we are lazier than that, because we don't want to type the --color option all the time either. So you might want to alias the ls command:

    user@host ~> alias ls='ls --color'
    

    Mind that this does not work for the common shell, /sbin/sh. You need a more advanced shell for making aliases, such as bash or ksh.

  9. Of course, when you log out, all these settings are gone, so add these lines to your shell configuration file, e.g. ~/.bashrc:

    user@host ~> echo 'export PATH=/usr/local/bin:$PATH' >> ~/.bashrc
    user@host ~> echo "alias ls='ls --color'" >> ~/.bashrc
    
  10. In order to make these settings available for all users on the system, put these last two lines in /etc/profile (check first, if PATH is already defined, it is cleaner to arrange the existing definition.

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