solidlive / colout

Color text streams with this simple command

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colout(1) -- Color Up Arbitrary Command Output


colout [-h] [-r]

colout [-g] [-c] [-l] [-a] [-t] [-T] [-P] [-s] PATTERN [COLOR(S) [STYLE(S)]]


colout read lines of text stream on the standard input and output characters matching a given regular expression PATTERN in given and STYLE.

If groups are specified in the regular expression pattern, only them are taken into account, else the whole matching pattern is colored.

You can specify several colors or styles when using groups by separating them with commas. If you indicate more colors than groups, the last ones will be ignored. If you ask for fewer colors, the last one will be duplicated across remaining groups.

Available colors are: blue, black, yellow, cyan, green, magenta, white, red, rainbow, random, Random, scale, none, an RGB hexadecimal triplet or any number between 0 and 255.

Available styles are: normal, bold, faint, italic, underline, blink, rapid_blink, reverse, conceal or random (some styles may have no effect, depending on your terminal).

rainbow will cycle over a 8 colors rainbow at each matching pattern. Rainbow will do the same over 24 colors (this requires a terminal that supports the 256 color escape sequences).

Random will color each matching pattern with a random color among the 255 available in the ANSI table. random will do the same in 8 colors mode.

scale (8 colors) and Scale (36 colors) will parse the matching text as a decimal number and apply the rainbow colormap according to its position on the scale defined by the -l option (see below, "0,100" by default).

If the python-pygments library is installed, you can use the name of a syntax-coloring "lexer" as a color (for example: "Cpp", "ruby", "xml+django", etc.).

If GIMP palettes files (*.gpl) are available, you can also use their names as a colormap (see the -P switch below).

Note that the RGB colors (either the hex triplets or the palettes's colors) will be converted to their nearest ANSI 256 color mode equivalents.

When not specified, a COLOR defaults to red and a STYLE defaults to bold.

colout comes with some predefined themes to rapidly color well-known outputs (see the -t switch below).

If the python-pygments library is available, colout can be used as an interface to it (see also the -s switch below).

To have a list of all colors, styles, special colormaps, themes, palettes and lexers, use the -r switch (see below).

colout is released under the GNU Public License v3.


sudo python install

and then soft link /usr/local/bin/colout to your under your installation directory, which is usually something like



Pypi (the Python Package Index)

sudo pip install colout


sudo easy_install colout

Ubuntu 13.04's ppa

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ciici123/colout
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get/aptitude install colout


sudo emerge colout


  • -h, --help: Show a help message and exit

  • -g, --groups: For color maps (like "rainbow"), iterate over matching groups in the pattern instead of over patterns.

  • -c, --colormap: Use the given list of comma-separated colors as a colormap (cycle the colors at each match).

  • -a, --all Color the whole input at once instead of line by line (really useful for coloring a source code file with strings on multiple lines).

  • -l min,max, --scale min,max: When using the 'scale' colormap, parse matches as decimal numbers (taking your locale into account) and apply the rainbow colormap linearly between the given min,max (0,100, by default).

  • -a, --all: Color the whole input at once instead of line per line (really useful for coloring a source code file with strings on multiple lines).

  • -t, --theme: Interpret PATTERN as a predefined theme (perm, cmake, g++, etc.).

  • -T DIR, --themes-dir DIR: Search for additional themes (colout_*.py files) in this directory.

  • -P DIR, --palettes-dir DIR: Search for additional palettes (*.gpl files) in this directory.

  • -r, --resources: Print the names of all available colors, styles, themes and palettes.

  • -s, --source: Interpret PATTERN as source code readable by the Pygments library. If the first letter of PATTERN is upper case, use the 256 color mode, if it is lower case, use the 8 colors mode. In 256 color mode, interpret COLOR as a Pygments style (e.g. "default").

  • --debug: Debug mode: print what's going on internally, if you want to check what features are available.


A regular expression (or regex) is a pattern that describes a set of strings that matches it.

colout understands regex as specified in the re python module. Given that colout is generally called by the command line, you may have to escape special characters that would be recognize by your shell.


Recommended packages:

  • argparse for a usable arguments parsing
  • pygments for the source code syntax coloring
  • babel for a locale-aware number parsing


Don't use nested groups or colout will duplicate the corresponding input text with each matching colors.


  • Color in bold red every occurrence of the word color in colout sources: cat | colout color red bold

  • Color in bold violet home directories in /etc/passwd: colout '/home/[a-z]+' 135 < /etc/passwd

  • Use a different color for each line of the auth log grep user /var/log/auth.log | colout "^.*$" rainbow

  • Color in yellow user/groups id, in bold green name and in bold red home directories in /etc/passwd: colout ':x:([0-9]+:[0-9]+):([^:]+).*(/home/[a-z]+)' yellow,green,red normal,bold < /etc/passwd

  • Color in yellow file permissions with read rights for everyone: ls -l | colout '.(r.-){3}' yellow normal

  • Color in green read permission, in bold red write and execution ones: ls -l | colout '(r)(w*)(x*)' green,red normal,bold

  • Color permissions with a predefined template: ls -l | colout -t perm

  • Color in green comments in colout sources: colout '.*(#.*)$' green normal <

  • Color in light green comments in non-empty colout sources, with the sharp in bold green: grep -v '^\s*$' | colout '.*(#)(.*)$' green,119 bold,normal

  • Color in bold green every numbers and in bold red the words error in make output: make 2>&1 | colout '[0-9]+' green normal | colout error

  • Color a make output, line numbers in yellow, errors in bold red, warning in magenta, pragma in green and C++ file base names in cyan: make 2>&1 | colout ':([0-9]+):[0-9]*' yellow normal | colout error | colout warning magenta | colout pragma green normal | colout '/(\w+)*\.(h|cpp)' cyan normal Or using themes: make 2>&³ | colout -t cmake | colout -t g++

  • Color each word in the head of auth.log with a rainbow color map, starting a new colormap at each new line (the beginning of the command is just bash magic to repeat the string "(\w+)\W+": L=$(seq 10) ; P=${L//??/(\\w+)\\W+} ; head /var/log/auth.log | colout -g "^${P}(.*)$" rainbow

  • Color each line of a file with a different color among a 256 color gradient from cyan to green: head /var/log/auth.log | colout -c "^.*$" 39,38,37,36,35,34

  • Color source code in 8 colors mode, without seeing comments: cat | grep -v "#" | colout -s python

  • Color source code in 256 color mode: cat | colout -s Python monokai

  • Color a JSON stream: echo '{"foo": "lorem", "bar":"ipsum"}' | python -mjson.tool | colout -t json

  • Color a source code substring: echo "There is an error in 'static void Functor::operator()( EOT& indiv ) { return indiv; }' you should fix it" | colout "'(.*)'" Cpp monokai


Color text streams with this simple command

License:GNU General Public License v3.0