Customize the Debian Command Line

If you like to run all your tasks through the terminal like I do, you may have noticed how boring it sometimes gets with its black background and white/grey text. Fortunately, there are some ways to bring some life and color to the command line. Some try to change the background to some eye-friendly spot colors, while others change the text color and font. In this article, we’ll discuss two ways to customize your overall terminal experience:

  • Changing the Terminal Font
  • Configuring the terminal bell

If the terminal is so boring, why do we even use the command line?

If you are familiar with the terminal, you do not want to leave the convenience of the command line and go somewhere else to do your daily technical activities. There is always a way to do almost all of our tasks directly in the terminal. Using the terminal makes certain tasks more efficient and even faster. The command line tools don’t consume too many resources, so they are a great alternative to the common graphical applications, especially if you are stuck with older hardware.

So let’s examine how you can customize the Debian command line to suit your visual needs on a Debian 10 system.

Changing the Terminal Font

If you are afraid that the default font size may hurt your vision in the long run or if the font itself is not pleasing to your eyes, there are ways to change that. The Terminal interface is more customizable than you think. Customizing the font size is just one of the many settings that you can make to your command line experience.

Please follow these steps in order to customize your Terminal’s text font:

Step 1: Open the Terminal

Open the Terminal application by accessing it through the application launcher search as follows:

Step 2: Access Terminal preferences

The Terminal preferences let you make several customizations to your overall Terminal experience. This also includes changing the font and font size of the Terminal text. There are two ways through which you can access the Preferences view:

1. Click on the Edit menu and then select the Preferences option as follows:

Terminal Preferences

2. Right click in the Terminal window and then select Preferences from the menu as follows:

Use the right-click menu to access preferences

The preferences view opens in the following view. Preferences view opens in an Unnamed profile view by default. Preferences let you create custom profiles that you can apply to your Terminal according to your needs. However, we will use this default Unnamed profile to edit the Font settings:

Preferences profile

Step 3: Edit the Terminal Preferences

In the Preferences view, try locating the Custom font option that is unchecked by default. Now that you want to enable a custom font, check this option and then click on the Font type and size button. By default, this button will have Monospace Regular 12 as the selected font. The following “Choose a Terminal Font” option will open when you click on this button:

Choose a Terminal Font

This dialog lets you search for a font, scroll through a list of fonts, and gives you a preview of the selected font. Select the font you want from here and then enter a text size either through the slider or through the input field.

Then click on the Select button located at the top-right corner of the dialog to confirm your selection. This will take you back to the Preferences view:

Text Appearance

Click on the Close button and you will see the newly selected font and font size enabled on your Terminal:

New font is shown in Debian terminal

Through this easy method, you can customize your Terminal text and font size right according to what is comfortable and pleasing to your eyes.

Configuring the Terminal Bell

No matter if you are a frequent Terminal user or a new-bie, you might have experienced an annoying beeping sound when you do something that is “not allowed”. For example, if you are in your Terminal and hit backspace when there are no characters to delete, this bell will ring. Another instance when this bell is played is when you are trying to tab-complete a command although there are no completions for it. If you still can’t figure out what sound we are talking about, try running the following command in your Terminal, and you will know how this Terminal bell sounds:

$ echo -e ‘\a’

The solution to getting this annoying sound muted is through the Terminal itself. All you need to do is make use of the Terminal Preferences UI to turn off this sound. This way you can focus more on the work at hand rather than experiencing the disturbing sound that does nothing more than just distracting you.

Please follow these steps in order to mute the Terminal bell from the Terminal itself:

The first thing you will be doing is accessing the Terminal preferences as described in the above section “ Changing the Terminal Font”.

In the Preferences view, try locating the “Terminal bell” option under the Sound category. This option is checked by default which means that the Hardware beep is enabled.

Terminal bell

Uncheck this option in order to turn off the Terminal bell. Click on the Close button and check the Terminal bell now; it will not beep on any trigger. You can verify this easily by hitting ‘backspace’ or “tab” when nothing is entered on the command prompt.

Now you will no longer be bothered by this “mostly” annoying beep sound when you are trying to focus on the more important stuff.

So these were a few ways through which you can give a customized look & feel to your Debian Terminal and gain even more power over the command line.