Peter Lyons

Hands off my window title!

November 29, 2011

So I recently ssh'ed into a shiny new Ubuntu 11.10 server on EC2 and noticed some new things. Firstly, Ubuntu seems to have enabled the byobu terminal multiplexer configuration by default. This looks potentially handy, but just like Oh my zsh I don't feel motivated to futz with it just now. It's easy to disable byobu with just a quick byobu-disable, which will, somewhat surprisingly, fully exit your shell, log you out and close your ssh session. But next time you'll get a normal shell instead of a byobu/screen session.

Now one thing I noticed and finally got motivated with to "research" (and by that I mean ask smarter people on twitter) and fix was that when I connected via ssh, the window title in my iTerm2 tab was dynamically changed from what I had carefully set it to ("asset pipeline") to the supremely unhelpful "ubuntu@ip-10-11-12-13". In some non-cloud situations where the server has a meaningful hostname, this might be handy, but distinguishing dozens of servers by their internal EC2 IP is not appealing to me. Initial research suggested my PROMPT or PROMPT_COMMAND environment variables, but neither was set. I read through this DeveloperWorks article and found the responsible code in the ~/.bashrc file. Here's the offending excerpt.

# If this is an xterm set the title to user@host:dir
case "$TERM" in
    PS1="\[\e]0;${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h: \w\a\]$PS1"

So you can comment out that line that changes PS1 if you prefer your own manually-set window title.