There are a lot of escape sequences offered by the Bash shell for insertion in the prompt. From the Bash 2.04 man page:
When executing interactively, bash displays the primary prompt PS1 when it is ready to read a command, and the secondary prompt PS2 when it needs more input to complete a command. Bash allows these prompt strings to be cus tomized by inserting a number of backslash-escaped special characters that are decoded as follows: \a an ASCII bell character (07) \d the date in "Weekday Month Date" format (e.g., "Tue May 26") \e an ASCII escape character (033) \h the hostname up to the first `.' \H the hostname \j the number of jobs currently managed by the shell \l the basename of the shell's terminal device name \n newline \r carriage return \s the name of the shell, the basename of $0 (the portion following the final slash) \t the current time in 24-hour HH:MM:SS format \T the current time in 12-hour HH:MM:SS format \@ the current time in 12-hour am/pm format \u the username of the current user \v the version of bash (e.g., 2.00) \V the release of bash, version + patchlevel (e.g., 2.00.0) \w the current working directory \W the basename of the current working direc tory \! the history number of this command \# the command number of this command \$ if the effective UID is 0, a #, otherwise a $ \nnn the character corresponding to the octal number nnn \\ a backslash \[ begin a sequence of non-printing characters, which could be used to embed a terminal con trol sequence into the prompt \] end a sequence of non-printing characters
For long-time users, note the new \j and \l sequences: these are new in 2.03 or 2.04.
Continuing where we left off:
[giles@nikola giles]$ PS1="\u@\h \W> " giles@nikola giles> ls bin mail giles@nikola giles>
This is similar to the default on most Linux distributions. I wanted a slightly different appearance, so I changed this to:
giles@nikola giles> PS1="[\t][\u@\h:\w]\$ " [21:52:01][giles@nikola:~]$ ls bin mail [21:52:15][giles@nikola:~]$