With Christmas around the corner, I'd like to make my system's prompt (for every user) a bit more festive and cheery.

Namely, I'd like to attach a Happy Holidays! (or similar) message post-login for every user on the system (on terminal login, SSH or locally). I'd assume this is a simple echo command, but I'm not sure where the appropriate place to put this command is in such a way that it would affect everyone. For obvious reasons, I'd rather not modify everyone's .bashrc. So, where is that?

  • Maybe pipe your input to lolcat? I know its far from what you want, but a little color doesn't kill. :) – Tony Lancer Dec 23 '16 at 17:13
  • You can't paste emojis in your terminal? O.o Then open .bashrc with gedit or something. – muru Dec 23 '16 at 17:20
  • (the "show message at login" part should be a separate question) – muru Dec 23 '16 at 17:24
  • @muru, done. question de-duplicatified. – Kaz Wolfe Dec 23 '16 at 17:25
  • 4
    Possible duplicate of How can display a message on terminal when open it – Sergiy Kolodyazhnyy Dec 30 '16 at 23:22

Linux can do this using the /etc/motd system, or any system that extends that (namely, update-motd).

Given this information, it's possible to add a simple shell script to /etc/update-motd.d/40-holiday:

echo Happy holidays from your local sysadmin!

Upon marking this as runnable (sudo chmod a+x /etc/update-motd.d/40-holiday), the MOTD can be forcefully updated using the command update-motd (as root).

Any subsequent logins will use the new (expanded) MOTD, finally bringing some holiday cheer to anybody who has to log on to a server on Christmas day.

Note that this method depends on the update-motd package, which should be pre-installed. But if it's not, sudo apt install update-motd.


I'd like to inject a christmas tree emoji (🎄) into my own PS1 prompt somehow

Try using \u1f384 and reference https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/25903/awesome-symbols-and-characters-in-a-bash-prompt for common pitfalls.

I'd also like to attach a "Happy Holidays!" message to every user's shell (at login only).

I would suggest changing the motd banner, if I understand what you want correctly. I don't remember off the top of my head how it's done best in Ubuntu, but if you want to be lazy you could modify one of the files in /etc/update-motd.d/, such as 98-reboot-required and throw an echo "Happy Holidays!"; at the end.


If you are using SSH and motd, don't forget to update sshd_config.

Change: PrintMotd no to: PrintMotd yes

And restart the ssh server to apply the changes.

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