Remembering terminal background color for each remote host we SSH to

Entering (the right) command to a wrong SSH session is no fun. To help me be aware that I am typing commands to a (the correct) remote host, I usually set the background color of my Konsole tab (manually, by right-clicking and then switching the profile). Inspired by this post, I decided to make my own SSH wrapper in Perl: sshwrap-hostcolor.

The wrapper

The sshwrap-hostcolor script is a wrapper that will execute ssh with the arguments you passed to it, but do some stuff before and after that. To try out this wrapper, first install it from CPAN:

% cpanm -n App::sshwrap::hostcolor

then alias it to ssh:

% alias ssh=sshwrap-hostcolor

(You might want to put the above line to your shell's startup file, if you decide to use this script permanently after all.)

Now ssh somewhere:

% ssh

then change the terminal background color. After you exit, the wrapper will restore the original background color. But if you ssh to the same user+host again later, the background color that you set (and saved by the script to ~/.sshwrap-hostcolor.history) will be restored. See video demonstration.

If you want the wrapper to automatically assign a random color to a new user+host, you can set the environment variable SSHWRAP_HOSTCOLOR_AUTO to random-dark (or random-light, if you use a light background color), e.g.:

% export SSHWRAP_HOSTCOLOR_AUTO=random-dark

See video demonstration.

The completion script

The wrapper comes with its own tab completion script, which you can install using:

% complete -C _sshwrap-hostcolor ssh

This completion script can complete user+host argument for you, and when there's a single completion with known background color, the completion script will immediately change the terminal background color during completion. See video demonstration. This might or might not be to your liking, but you have the option to install the completion if you want this behavior.

Additional stuff

Note that this wrapper will only work with an XTerm-compatible terminal emulation software. See the list here.

While writing the wrapper script, I also wrote a few other CLI utilities.

get-term-bgcolor to programmatically get the terminal's current background color.

set-term-bgcolor to programmatically set the terminal's current background color. This script recognizes RGB color code (e.g. 00002b) or color names (e.g. black, darkblue).

show-color-swatch to show the list of color names and their codes. Use it as such:

% show-color-swatch X | less -R

Oh, and the set-term-bgcolor script also features tab completion (activated via complete -C set-term-bgcolor set-term-bgcolor) so you can complete color names, e.g.:

% set-term-bgcolor dark<Tab><Tab>

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