Help enabling nano syntax highlighting

Greetings lovely community,

As per the Arch wiki, I’ve done my best to follow this link to enable syntax highlighting for nano, but have been unable to see any color change:

https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/Nano

Here’s the steps I’ve done so far, please let me know what else I can do to try to get nano syntax highlighting working.

  1. nano and nano-syntax-highlighting ##make sure are installed from official repos
  2. cp /etc/nanorc ~/.config/nano/nanorc ##copied this file to my config folder
  3. Add include "/usr/share/nano/*.nanorc" and include "/usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/*.nanorc" to the ~/.config/nano/nanorc config file and save.
  4. When I open Tilix (or Gnome Terminal too), I still only get white text, no syntax color highlighting.

When I tested Fedora 36 earlier this week, I believe it had nano syntax highlighting enabled by default, because any time I used nano, it was never white text, but always like color coded which I found super super useful, easier to find certain things. I’d like to replicate exactly what Fedora does with their nano syntax highlighting if possible.

Here’s what nano currently looks like:

Under micro which has syntax highlighting enabled by default, this is what ideally I’d like nano to look like as well:

Any help getting nano to add colors would be most appreciated.

Here’s my nanorc file from my Home directory ~/.config/nano/nanorc:

## Sample initialization file for GNU nano.
##
## For the options that take parameters, the default value is shown.
## Other options are unset by default.  To make sure that an option
## is disabled, you can use "unset <option>".
##
## Characters that are special in a shell should not be escaped here.
## Inside string parameters, quotes should not be escaped -- the last
## double quote on the line will be seen as the closing quote.

## Make 'nextword' (Ctrl+Right) and 'chopwordright' (Ctrl+Delete)
## stop at word ends instead of at beginnings.
# set afterends

## When soft line wrapping is enabled, make it wrap lines at blanks
## (tabs and spaces) instead of always at the edge of the screen.
# set atblanks

## Automatically indent a newly created line to the same number of
## tabs and/or spaces as the preceding line -- or as the next line
## if the preceding line is the beginning of a paragraph.
# set autoindent

## Back up files to the current filename plus a tilde.
# set backup

## The directory to put unique backup files in.
# set backupdir ""

## Use bold text instead of reverse video text.
# set boldtext

## Treat any line with leading whitespace as the beginning of a paragraph.
# set bookstyle

## The characters treated as closing brackets when justifying paragraphs.
## This may not include any blank characters.  Only closing punctuation,
## optionally followed by these closing brackets, can end sentences.
# set brackets ""')>]}"

## Automatically hard-wrap the current line when it becomes overlong.
# set breaklonglines

## Do case-sensitive searches by default.
# set casesensitive

## Constantly display the cursor position in the status bar or minibar.
# set constantshow

## Use cut-from-cursor-to-end-of-line by default.
# set cutfromcursor

## Do not use the line below the title bar, leaving it entirely blank.
# set emptyline

## Set the target width for automatic hard-wrapping and for justifying
## paragraphs.  If the specified value is 0 or less, the wrapping point
## will be the terminal's width minus this number.
# set fill -8

## Draw a vertical stripe at the given column, to help judge text width.
## (This option does not have a default value.)
# set guidestripe 75

## Remember the used search/replace strings for the next session.
# set historylog

## Display a "scrollbar" on the righthand side of the edit window.
# set indicator

## Scroll the buffer contents per half-screen instead of per line.
# set jumpyscrolling

## Display line numbers to the left (and any anchors in the margin).
# set linenumbers

## Enable vim-style lock-files.  This is just to let a vim user know you
## are editing a file [s]he is trying to edit and vice versa.  There are
## no plans to implement vim-style undo state in these files.
# set locking

## Fall back to slow libmagic to try and determine an applicable syntax.
# set magic

## The opening and closing brackets that are found by a matching-bracket
## search.  This may not contain blank characters.  The opening brackets
## must come before the closing ones, and they must be in the same order.
# set matchbrackets "(<[{)>]}"

## Suppress the title bar and show the filename plus a cursor-position
## percentage in the space of the status bar.
# set minibar

## Enable mouse support, if available for your system.  When enabled,
## mouse clicks can be used to place the cursor, set the mark (with a
## double click), and execute shortcuts.  The mouse will work in the
## X Window System, and on the console when gpm is running.
# set mouse

## Switch on multiple file buffers (inserting a file will put it into
## a separate buffer).
# set multibuffer

## Don't convert files from DOS/Mac format.
# set noconvert

## Don't display the helpful shortcut lists at the bottom of the screen.
# set nohelp

## Don't automatically add a newline when a file does not end with one.
# set nonewlines

## Set operating directory.  nano will not read or write files outside
## this directory and its subdirectories.  Also, the current directory
## is changed to here, so any files are inserted from this dir.  A blank
## string means the operating-directory feature is turned off.
# set operatingdir ""

## Remember the cursor position in each file for the next editing session.
# set positionlog

## Preserve the XON and XOFF keys (^Q and ^S).
# set preserve

## The characters treated as closing punctuation when justifying paragraphs.
## This may not contain blank characters.  Only these closing punctuations,
## optionally followed by closing brackets, can end sentences.
# set punct "!.?"

## Make status-bar messages disappear after 1 keystroke instead of after 20.
# set quickblank

## The regular expression that matches quoting characters in email
## or line-comment introducers in source code.  The default is:
# set quotestr "^([ 	]*([!#%:;>|}]|//))+"

## Try to work around a mismatching terminfo terminal description.
# set rawsequences

## Fix Backspace/Delete confusion problem.
# set rebinddelete

## Do regular-expression searches by default.
## Regular expressions are of the extended type (ERE).
# set regexp

## Save a changed buffer automatically on exit; don't prompt.
# set saveonexit
## (The old form of this option, 'set tempfile', is deprecated.)

## Put the cursor on the highlighted item in the file browser, and
## show the cursor in the help viewer; useful for people who use a
## braille display and people with poor vision.
# set showcursor

## Make the Home key smarter: when Home is pressed anywhere but at the
## very beginning of non-whitespace characters on a line, the cursor
## will jump to that beginning (either forwards or backwards).  If the
## cursor is already at that position, it will jump to the true start
## of the line (the left edge).
# set smarthome

## Spread overlong lines over multiple screen lines.
# set softwrap

## Use this spelling checker instead of the internal one.  This option
## does not have a default value.
# set speller "aspell -x -c"

## Use the end of the title bar for some state flags: I = auto-indenting,
## M = mark, L = hard-wrapping long lines, R = recording, S = soft-wrapping.
# set stateflags

## Use this tab size instead of the default; it must be greater than 0.
# set tabsize 8

## Convert each typed tab to the fitting number of spaces.
# set tabstospaces

## Snip whitespace at the end of lines when justifying or hard-wrapping.
# set trimblanks

## Save files by default in Unix format (also when they were DOS or Mac).
# set unix

## The two single-column characters used to display the first characters
## of tabs and spaces.  187 in ISO 8859-1 (0000BB in Unicode) and 183 in
## ISO-8859-1 (0000B7 in Unicode) seem to be good values for these.
## The default when in a UTF-8 locale:
# set whitespace "»·"
## The default otherwise:
# set whitespace ">."

## Detect word boundaries differently by treating punctuation
## characters as parts of words.
# set wordbounds

## The characters (besides alphanumeric ones) that should be considered
## as parts of words.  This option does not have a default value.  When
## set, it overrides option 'set wordbounds'.
# set wordchars "<_>."

## Let an unmodified Backspace or Delete erase the marked region (instead
## of a single character, and without affecting the cutbuffer).
# set zap

## Hide the bars plus help lines and use the whole terminal as edit area.
# set zero


## Paint the interface elements of nano.  These are examples; there are
## no colors by default, except for errorcolor and spotlightcolor.
# set titlecolor bold,white,blue
# set promptcolor lightwhite,grey
# set statuscolor bold,white,green
# set errorcolor bold,white,red
# set spotlightcolor black,lightyellow
# set selectedcolor lightwhite,magenta
# set stripecolor ,yellow
# set scrollercolor cyan
# set numbercolor cyan
# set keycolor cyan
# set functioncolor green

## In root's .nanorc you might want to use:
# set titlecolor bold,white,magenta
# set promptcolor black,yellow
# set statuscolor bold,white,magenta
# set errorcolor bold,white,red
# set spotlightcolor black,orange
# set selectedcolor lightwhite,cyan
# set stripecolor ,yellow
# set scrollercolor magenta
# set numbercolor magenta
# set keycolor lightmagenta
# set functioncolor magenta


## === Syntax coloring ===
## For all details, see 'man nanorc', section SYNTAX HIGHLIGHTING.

## To include most of the existing syntax definitions, you can do:
include "/usr/share/nano/*.nanorc"
include "/usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/*.nanorc"

## Or you can select just the ones you need.  For example:
include "/usr/share/nano/html.nanorc"
include "/usr/share/nano/python.nanorc"
include "/usr/share/nano/sh.nanorc"

## In /usr/share/nano/extra/ you can find some syntaxes that are
## specific for certain distros or for some less common languages.


## If <Tab> should always produce four spaces when editing a Python file,
## independent of the settings of 'tabsize' and 'tabstospaces':
# extendsyntax python tabgives "    "

## If <Tab> should always produce an actual TAB when editing a Makefile:
# extendsyntax makefile tabgives "	"


## === Key bindings ===
## For all details, see 'man nanorc', section REBINDING KEYS.

## If you want to suspend nano with one keystroke (instead of with ^T^Z):
# bind ^Z suspend main

## The <Ctrl+Delete> keystroke deletes the word to the right of the cursor.
## On some terminals the <Ctrl+Backspace> keystroke produces ^H, which is
## the ASCII character for backspace, so it is bound by default to the
## backspace function.  The <Backspace> key itself produces a different
## keycode, which is hard-bound to the backspace function.  So, if you
## normally use <Backspace> for backspacing and not ^H, you can make
## <Ctrl+Backspace> delete the word to the left of the cursor with:
# bind ^H chopwordleft main

## For a more mnemonic Comment keystroke (overriding Cut-from-cursor):
# bind M-K comment main

## If you want ^L to just refresh the screen and not center the cursor:
# bind ^L refresh main

## When you sometimes type M-J instead of M-K, or M-T instead of M-R:
# unbind M-J main
# unbind M-T main
## (Those functions are still accessible through ^T^J and ^T^V.)

## For quickly uppercasing or lowercasing the word under the cursor.
## (These effectively do a Ctrl+Right followed by a Shift+Ctrl+Left,
## and then pipe the selected text through a sed command.)
# bind Sh-M-U "eOce[1;6D|sed 's/.*/\U&/'
" main
# bind Sh-M-L "eOce[1;6D|sed 's/.*/\L&/'
" main

## For copying a marked region to the system clipboard:
# bind Sh-M-T "|xsel -ib
eu" main

## If you would like nano to have keybindings that are more "usual",
## such as ^O for Open, ^F for Find, ^H for Help, and ^Q for Quit,
## then uncomment these:
#bind ^X cut main
#bind ^C copy main
#bind ^V paste all
#bind ^Q exit all
#bind ^S savefile main
#bind ^W writeout main
#bind ^O insert main
#set multibuffer
#bind ^H help all
#bind ^H exit help
#bind ^F whereis all
#bind ^G findnext all
#bind ^B wherewas all
#bind ^D findprevious all
#bind ^R replace main
#bind ^Z undo main
#bind ^Y redo main
#unbind ^K main
#unbind ^U all
#unbind ^N main
#unbind ^Y all
#unbind M-J main
#unbind M-T main
#bind ^A mark main
#bind ^P location main
#bind ^T gotoline main
#bind ^T gotodir browser
#bind ^T cutrestoffile execute
#bind ^L linter execute
#bind ^E execute main

~/.nanorc

include /usr/share/nano/*.nanorc
include /usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/*.nanorc

I think it wasn’t working because you’ve used glob expansion * inside quotes, they don’t work together, if you need to quote such path with expansion do it like that:

include "/usr/share/nano/"*".nanorc"
include "/usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/"*".nanorc"
3 Likes

Thanks for the reply @keybreak, I tried each of those in my ~/.config/nano/nanorc file, but I’m still getting only black and white text:

Here’s an exert of my current nanorc file from ~/.config/nano/nanorc:

## === Syntax coloring ===
## For all details, see 'man nanorc', section SYNTAX HIGHLIGHTING.

## To include most of the existing syntax definitions, you can do:
include "/usr/share/nano/"*".nanorc"
include "/usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/"*".nanorc"

## Or you can select just the ones you need.  For example:
include "/usr/share/nano/html.nanorc"
include "/usr/share/nano/python.nanorc"
include "/usr/share/nano/sh.nanorc"

## In /usr/share/nano/extra/ you can find some syntaxes that are
## specific for certain distros or for some less common languages.

What’s your?

pacman -Qs nano

Weird, should work just like that.

Maybe it’s your Gnome terminal? Does it have syntax highlighting in other terminal programs?

[scott@EndeavourOS ~]$ pacman -Qs nano
local/nano 6.3-1
    Pico editor clone with enhancements
local/nano-syntax-highlighting 2020.10.10-1
    Nano editor syntax highlighting enhancements

I’ve tested it both in Tilix and Gnome-terminal, both don’t show any nano highlighting, but they both do show color highlighting when using micro, so I don’t think it’s a terminal issue. I feel like such a noob right now :sweat_smile:

1 Like

Well…Maybe you’ve messed rest of the config, try to back it up and start new clean just like:

~/.nanorc

include /usr/share/nano/*.nanorc
include /usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/*.nanorc

Don’t forget to backup / kill one at ~/.config/nano too (should use just one of them anyway)

restart terminal and see what happens, if it works then try to find config offender!

honka_memes-128px-41

Still nothing, now I’m giving myself a headache, I don’t know what else to do :joy:

1 Like

honka_animated-128px-26

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/endeavouros-team/endeavouros-xfce4-theming/master/.nanorc

Should just work… but could be also terminal emulator and shell in the way…

Thanks for the help though! It was worth a try. Maybe someone else had this issue as well, so I’ll just keep it open for a while you never know :upside_down_face:

What do you have in mind?
Like if it’s not bash?

Don’t know if it changes anything at all, but Tilix has an option to “Run command as a login shell” so I’ve tried with this ON and with this OFF, but it doesn’t change anything in regards to the nano colors. The micro colors still show up with this option on or off. Gnome-terminal doesn’t have this option.

I don’t know what I’m doing right now, just experimenting really, but currently my /home/scott/.config/nano/nanorc only has this in it and nothing else (i just deleted everything else):

include /usr/share/nano/*.nanorc
include /usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/*.nanorc

But still no colors in any terminal.

I have only the above in ~/.nanorc.
I get some syntax highlighting with nano without root but none with root.

In the left, nano FILE , in the right sudo nano FILE:

should use same config in /root/.nanorc for root to work

1 Like

Should I put this same line:

include /usr/share/nano/*.nanorc

in there as well?

Yes should be exactly same as in ~

include /usr/share/nano/*.nanorc
include /usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/*.nanorc
1 Like

Here’s some new steps I experimenting with:

touch ~/.nanorc
nano ~/.nanorc

Added the following:

include /usr/share/nano/*.nanorc
include /usr/share/nano-syntax-highlighting/*.nanorc

Save the file and then when I re-open it without sudo I get this, nano ~/.nanorc (normally I’d copy/paste the output, but notice the error at the bottom:

Sorry for my intrusion @Scotty_Trees!

Thanks a lot @keybreak!
You get my :white_check_mark:

2 Likes

Maybe it weren’t working because original file was copied from root and permission was messed before, but look how despite of error it now has colors :rofl:

No no, you’re not intruding, but it was good of you to point out that you get colors without sudo and colors with sudo. I’ve been doing sudo this whole time, so I never saw any colors. But I just tried without sudo and I got nano to display some colors. But the whole point I want nano colors is while using sudo :sweat_smile:

Nano colors do display WITHOUT sudo (so I got it half working?):

2 Likes