When I run screen it changes my prompt. How do I prevent this behaviour? For example:

$ echo $PS1
\[\e]0;\h:Prod\a\]\n\[\e[32m\]\u@\h \[\e[33m\]\w\[\e[0m\]\n\$
$ screen
$ echo $PS1
[\u@\h \W]\$

Interestingly, it does not do this on other machines. The machine in question is Redhat 4 update 4, with Screen version 4.00.02 (FAU) 5-Dec-03.

closed as off-topic by Andrew Schulman, masegaloeh, Scott Pack, Jenny D, Katherine Villyard Apr 12 '15 at 14:56

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions on Server Fault must be about managing information technology systems in a business environment. Home and end-user computing questions may be asked on Super User, and questions about development, testing and development tools may be asked on Stack Overflow." – Andrew Schulman, masegaloeh, Scott Pack, Jenny D, Katherine Villyard
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


Try adding (assuming it's not already there) to your .screenrc file:

shell -$SHELL

This will give you a login shell when you initialize a screen session or create another terminal from within one.

  • 1
    I had 'shell /bin/bash' in my .screenrc, apparently it should have been 'shell -/bin/bash' or what you provided. – Swoogan Jul 23 '09 at 18:37

Many distributions check the type of terminal before setting the prompt. Ubuntu, for example, contains this little gem in the default .bashrc:

# set a fancy prompt (non-color, unless we know we "want" color)
case "$TERM" in
    xterm-color) color_prompt=yes;;

Since screen uses its own TERM variable ("screen"), bash thinks it's not capable of displaying a fancy color prompt so it defaults to a simpler one. Screen is, of course, fully capable of the same complex prompts as a normal terminal.

So, to override this behavior, just hard-set your preferred PS1 options at the end of your ~/.bashrc file. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, find the test that checks the value of the TERM variable and modify it to accept "screen" in addition to "xterm-color".


Perhaps this is a customized variable that is set in the ~/.screenrc file?

  • 1
    Yes, check for setenv PS1 in global or personal screenrc – radius Jul 23 '09 at 17:33
  • 4
    And what customized variable would that be? If you don't know the answer, don't answer. – Swoogan Jul 23 '09 at 18:35

Had the same issue (no more custom prompt in screen) on a machine with SHELL -$SHELL and no setenv PS1 in screenrc, and no special test for (dumb) terminal in bashrc.

Setting the used $TERM:

$ echo $TERM

in screenrc got my custom prompt back while under Screen:

- #term xterm-256color
+ term urxvt-unicode-256color

PS: another account had no need for this, but bashrc tests for dircolors and a modern terminal this way1:

if [[ $'\n'${match_lhs} == *$'\n'"TERM "${safe_term}* ]] ; then
PS1=<my fancy prompt>

I believe this works as well:

if [ "$TERM" != "dumb" ]; then
PS1=<my fancy prompt>

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.