linux - the - watch--color not working

Colors with unix command “watch”? (4)

Some commands that I use display colors, but when I use them with watch the colors disappears:

watch -n 1 node file.js

Is it possible to have the colors back on somehow?

Do not use watch ... When you use watch programs can detect they're not writing to a terminal and then strip the color. You must use specific program flags to keep the control codes there.

If you don't know the flags or there isn't you can make a poor's man watch by:

while sleep <time>; do clear; <command>; done

It will have a bit of flicker (watch works "double buffered") but for some stuff it is useful enough.

You may be tempted to make a double buffered poor man's watch using

while sleep <time>; do <command> > /tmp/file; clear; cat /tmp/file; done

But then you'll hit again the "I am not writing to a terminal" feature.

From watch manual:

Non-printing characters are stripped from program output. Use "cat -v" as part of the command pipeline if you want to see them.

Though, I am not sure how to use it.

You can duplicate the fundamental, no-frills operation of watch in a couple lines of shell script.

$ cat cheapwatch 

# Not quite your Rolex

while true ; do
  printf "[%s] Output of %s:\n" "$(date)" "$*"
  # "[email protected]" <- we don't want to do it this way, just this:
  ${SHELL-/bin/sh} -c "$*"
  sleep 1  # genuine Quartz movement

$ ./cheapwatch ls --color  # no problem

Eventually, someone very clever will hack a tr command into this script which strips control characters, and then force the user to use --color to disable that logic. For the time being, the sheer naivete of this implementation is keeping the color-eating monster away.

If you're in a situation where watch doesn't have the --color option and you can't upgrade the package for whatever reason, maybe you can throw this in.