Linux Prompt X

“This is the one.” -Me (about ten seconds before starting this article)

For a decent amount of time now, I’ve used a personalized prompt. On several occasions even, I’ve written and shared it with the PowerShell community. Well, I’m about to do the same thing today. That said, I’ve never quite felt what I’m feeling now. After all those iterations, I feel that this version — version X (ten) — is what I was always after. It make sense on Windows and Linux, and it provides everything I could want in a prompt.

For full disclosure, I’ve actually… said that last sentence before.

Let me explain a bit about it for those that may be new. I’ve always appreciated the Unix/Linux prompt, as it includes with it, the user name, the host/computer name, and often, an indication of whether of not I’m running as root ($ vs. # [# is root/admin]). Over time, I brought this and more into my prompt on Windows. It was, the Linux prompt on Windows. And now, it’s even the Linux prompt on Linux, too. You know, that whole PowerShell Core, cross-platform thing. No kidding, but I was actually kind of surprised when I installed PowerShell Core for the first time and it used the same, standard PowerShell prompt. I suppose it’s something we’ve come to expect, however.

Before we discuss how to get the code, let’s discuss what I’ve done. I’ve now included everything, inside of a single advanced function called Switch-Prompt. If you run it with just the command name, you’ll get the standard, PowerShell prompt. That’s because the default value for the Type parameter is “Standard.” It can also be run using that parameter and parameter value, as seen in the below example.

When using the Type parameter value of “Standard,” the prompt will look and function just as it typically does in PowerShell. Until Switch-Prompt is invoked again, this will be the prompt each time a new prompt is created (Enter is pressed).

The fun begins when we change out the “Standard” parameter value to “Linux.” This prompt will … well, let me just show you.

This option will create the prompt as open square bracket, current user name, @ symbol, current computer name, current directory, close square bracket, and either a dollar sign ($), or hash symbol (#). Remember, the hash symbol indicates that the user is running as root, or admin, and the dollar sign indicates that the user is running as a normal user.

Using “Linux” as the value for the Type parameter creates two dynamic parameters. The FullPath parameter will include the full path to the current directory, and the Version parameter will include the version of PowerShell between the closing square bracket and the dollar sign or hash symbol. These two parameters can be used one at a time, or together — it makes no difference. In the below examples, I’ve pressed Enter a couple times between commands, so you can see that the new prompt stays around until Switch-Prompt is invoked again, in a different manner than it was previously.

At an earlier time in this prompt’s development, I opted to have it allow me to choose the username and computer name. That’s still with us. When we use “LinuxCustom” as the value for the Type parameter, we get even more dynamic parameters. We still have FullPath and Version, but now, we also have UserName and ComputerName. Unlike FullPath and Version, these are not switch parameters; they require a value to be included along with them. Take a look at these final examples, and then you can get the code for yourself!

Now, it’s time for you to try it out yourself. In the past, I opted to save it in a public Gist, but this time, I think it’s good enough to go straight to the PowerShell Gallery. Here’s the Switch-Prompt’s page on the gallery:, and here’s the command to issue in PowerShell to install it on your computer, as the current user. Remember, it’s a script, not a module. Therefore, you need to dot-source it, to use it, which is something that could be easily added to your profile script. That command is below, as well.

Be sure to swap out “WindowsPowerShell” for “PowerShell” in the above path, if you installed it using PowerShell Core. It works there too! Even in the recently released 6.2 version.

≥ Tommy Maynard (Twitter: @thetommymaynard)

About Tommy Maynard

IT Pro. Passionate for #PowerShell, #AWS (certified x2), & all things automation. I'm not done learning. Author in #PSConfBook. Writes at