My Suggestions on ISSUE, MOTD, &

Christopher Olah at
Sat Jun 13 19:16:14 UTC 2009

    Greetings All!

     I'd like to make some suggestions on the files /etc/issue(.net),
/etc/motd(.tail), and /etc/ These files are all in
the base-files package which is maintained by the Ubuntu Core
Developers. It seemed a little presumptuous to post it to
ubuntu-devel at, so I'm posting it here.

               /etc/issue :

(/etc/issue is the file printed at the top of a virtual terminal
before the login program. )

    (1) The most common situation that the average end user will see
an non-X vt is after accidentally hitting <Ctr><Alt><F[1-6]>. Thus, it
seems logical to have a message ready telling them how to get back to
X. /etc/issue seems like the best way to put it there.

    (2) Purely Aesthetic: Plain white text is a little boring. It may
be worth while using escape sequences to make the text bold/colored.

Brainstorm:  (It hasn't got
much feedback.)

            /etc/motd :

(/etc/motd is printed after login on VTs)

    (1) Emphasize "ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY" by making it orange (use
escape sequences).
    (2) Emphasize file paths/URLs with italics to match the standard
man page scheme.

Brainstorm: (Little feedback...)

         /etc/ :

(/etc/ defines how boot messages are printed behind splash.)

     (1) Make the "OK" in "[ OK ]" green. This matches the fact that
"fail" in "[fail]" is red. There are several reasons to do this:
            - It looks nice.
            - The must common case that an end user will see this is
when something goes wrong in the boot process. Having a string of
green "[ OK ]"s would be comforting.

Brainstorm: (Strong positive feedback)

Preemptive responses to some counter arguments:

      - Escape sequences hard set in files is bad because some vary
from terminal to terminal: Yes, but they are largely standardized in
modern software terminals, and it is uncommon that an Ubuntu user will
be using a legacy hardware terminal (and if so, they'd be technically
competent enough to make such trivial modifications, if it was a big
deal to them...).

      - Color Blind don't benefit: But they aren't hurt, and the rest
of us benefit. Ubuntu already uses color in many situations.

In any case, thanks for taking the time to read and consider this email,

   Christopher Olah

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