Base16 Shell

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After many years using the excellent Solarized color scheme, it has started to feel stale. Sometimes I think the dark blueish tint brings down my mood. Other times, I wonder what life could be like if I stared at more cheerful colors. Thus starts my farewell from Solarized, and hello to Base16.

From Base16's Github README:

Base16 provides carefully chosen syntax highlighting and a default set of sixteen colors suitable for a wide range of applications. Base16 is not a single theme but a set of guidelines with numerous implementations.

Which means after integrating into Base16 once, I'll have access to an unlimited supply of themes in the future!


Base16 has perfect iTerm and shell integration. Once the repo was installed locally, I called base16_ocean and was greeted by brand new palette. No iTerm tweaking, no downloading this other thing and importing stuff into iTerm. It was literally 2 steps performed in shell and then pick a theme.

Here's what you do. (FYI. This is pretty much copy/paste from their repo)

# 1. clone the repo to `~/.config/base16-shell`
git clone ~/.config/base16-shell

# 2. update ~/.bashrc or ~/.zshrc
cat >> ~/.zshrc <<'SH'
[ -n "$PS1" ] && [ -s $BASE16_SHELL/ ] && eval "$($BASE16_SHELL/"

After you're done with those steps, start a new terminal session or source the file, and start choosing a theme. Try base16_ocean to see what I'm seeing. Try base16_<tab> to see what other options you have available. To preview what they look like before making a choice go to their website:

Vim Integration

Install plugin from

Add the following to your .vimrc:

if filereadable(expand("~/.vimrc_background"))
  let base16colorspace=256
  source ~/.vimrc_background

base16-shell commands create the ~/.vimrc_background file every time a base16_* alias is used. This allows Vim to always stay synchronized with shell which is AWESOME!


After cycling through everyone of the user created themes, I've settled on base16_ocean as my new home. I may get tired of it, I may not, but either way I'm just a shell command away from changing. Indecision has never been so easy.