I tend to get lost with the number of terminals I use on a regular basis. Because I work with a number of systems at the same time, I want a reminder of who I am and where I am to show up in the xterm titlebar. Once I've done that, the task lists that are available in gnome use that description instead of just "xterm".

Here's how I did it. Add the following lines to /etc/bashrc:

SHOSTNAME=`hostname -s`

PROMPT_COMMAND='if [ "${TERM}" = "xterm" -o "${TERM}" = "xterm-color" ];
then if [ -n "${XTITLE}" ]; then echo -ne "\033]0;${XTITLE}\007" ;
else echo -ne "\033]0;${USER}@${SHOSTNAME} ${PWD}\007" |
sed -e "s@${HOME}@\~@" ; fi ; fi'


Note that the PROMPT_COMMAND line is split to avoid wrapping, but everything from PROMPT_COMMAND= to fi' needs to be on a single line. Now, the XTERM titlebar is reset every time a command is run. It shows me what machine I'm on, what user I'm logged in as, and what directory I'm in, like:

wstearns@sparrow /tmp

If I happen to be in a directory relative to my home directory it shows up as:

wstearns@sparrow ~/mail

In addition, if I want to force the titlebar to stay at a given string all the time, all I have to type in the shell is:


and it stays that way until I type:

unset XTITLE

at which point it reverts to showing me the user@host /dir version.

This extra reminder has helped me avoid typing "shutdown -r now" in the wrong terminal. And yes, I have done that, ahem, once or twice. But never on any absolutely crucial machine that has to stay up. *smile*