Installing Powerline on Ubuntu Linux

Learn how to install the Powerline status plugin for Vim, Bash, and tmux on Ubuntu Linux. Get useful information on your shell prompt and make your terminal look beautiful.

Powerline is a text-based tool that provides useful information in a variety of contexts. The following screenshot shows Powerline displaying information about a Git repository:

Powerline demo

Install and configure Powerline fonts

To install the Powerline fonts:

  1. Clone the Powerline fonts repository to the fonts folder in your computer:
    git clone --depth=1 fonts
  2. Run the installation script:

To configure the fonts in the Ubuntu Terminal app:

  1. Open Terminal.
  2. Go to Edit > Preferences.
  3. In the Editing Profile dialog, choose the General tab, enable Custom font, and click the button to select a font.
  4. From the Choose a Terminal Font dialog, select one of the Powerline fonts, such as Source Code Pro for Powerline Regular.

While you are in the Editing Profile dialog, check the different color schemes in the Colors tab. You might find one that works better for you than the default.

Install pip and Powerline

Powerline is available in pip, which is a package manager for Python. To install pip:

curl -o
python --user

To install Powerline:

$HOME/.local/bin/pip install --user powerline-status

The --user flag indicates that pip installs the package following the user scheme. In other words, the package is installed in a location specific to the current user.

Configure Bash

To configure Powerline for bash, add the following lines to your $HOME/.bashrc file:

# Add this to your PATH if it’s not already declared
export PATH=$PATH:$HOME/.local/bin

# Powerline configuration
if [ -f $HOME/.local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/powerline/bindings/bash/ ]; then
    $HOME/.local/bin/powerline-daemon -q
    source $HOME/.local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/powerline/bindings/bash/

(Optional) Configure Vim

To configure Powerline for Vim, add the following lines to your $HOME/.vimrc file:

set rtp+=$HOME/.local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/powerline/bindings/vim/

Optionally, add the following line to $HOME/.vimrc to display the status bar in Vim and make the Powerline status line visible by default:

set laststatus=2

(Optional) Edit your Powerline configuration

You can customize what segments appear in Powerline, or even the behavior of specific segments. The summarized instructions to customize your Powerline installation is the following:

  1. Copy the $HOME/.local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/powerline/config_files/ folder to $HOME/.config/powerline:
    mkdir -p $HOME/.config/powerline
    cp -R $HOME/.local/lib/python2.7/site-packages/powerline/config_files/* \
  2. Edit the files there according to your needs. A good starting point is the $HOME/.config/powerline/config.json file.
  3. Reload the Powerline daemon:
    powerline-daemon --kill

You can also create custom Powerline segments that display information tailored to your workflow. For more information, check Creating a custom Powerline segment.

Leave a comment