I don’t know exactly what happened the other day, but I ran a git diff and instead of the usual red and green colors, everything was some form of ESC[32m ESC[1m ESC[m and so on in order to tell the terminal to switch colors.

ESC[1mindex 6008531..985ce31 100755ESC[m
ESC[1m--- a/bin/build-site.pyESC[m
ESC[1m    b/bin/build-site.pyESC[m
ESC[36m@@ -1,5  1,9 @@ESC[m
 #!/usr/bin/env pythonESC[m
ESC[32m ESC[m
ESC[32m ESC[m
ESC[32m ESC[m
ESC[32m ESC[m
 import getoptESC[m
 import gitESC[m
 import osESC[m

Okay this is just great. No idea what is going on, and I can’t possibly continue coding like this. After a bit of googling, there wasn’t much on the situation.

It turns out that the less command got misconfigured. I was working on Ubuntu and found the culprit to be the $LESS environment variable misconfigured.

$ echo $LESS
$ export LESS="-eirMX"

These two commands in terminal will print out the $LESS environment variable and then set it. The “r” option is what is crucial here. It’s what enables coloring in less output. Another environment variable you may look at is $PAGER.

Take a look here for a really good description of the problem:

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