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How can xterm 256 be enabled in ubuntu 8.04? I was able to get that working in 9.10, but not 8.04.

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michael, any update on your issue? did the answer below help at all? if it didn't can you edit the question and update with what you tried and what effect it had? – quack quixote Apr 29 '10 at 19:51

I found that simply placing this in either your .bash_profile or .profile (if the former doesn't exist) works for me:

export TERM="xterm-256color"

Then either open a new terminal session or source the profile file source ~/.bash_profile. I'm assuming you use bash, but this will probably work for most shell type dot files.

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Thank you! Worked perfectly in Ubuntu 11.10. edit: doh but it had side effects in Vim. Why on earth doesn't Ubuntu enable this by default so that we don't have to make these hacks? – Gerry Jul 9 '12 at 20:35

It looks like Hardy (Ubuntu 8.04) doesn't provide the terminfo entry (/usr/share/terminfo/x/xterm-256color) in the default ncurses packages. Karmic provides this entry in the ncurses-base package (Karmic, Hardy), but Hardy provides it in the ncurses-term package (Hardy).

I found this article on enabling 256-Color Xterms in Ubuntu. To enable:

  1. Install ncurses-term: sudo aptitude install ncurses-term

  2. Customize the xterm entries; add this to ~/.Xdefaults:

    *customization: -color
    XTerm*termName: xterm-256color
  3. Add this to ~/.xsession to apply to new terminals:

    if [ -f $HOME/.Xdefaults ]; then
       xrdb -merge $HOME/.Xdefaults
  4. Log out and back in to pick up all changes, or just run xrdb -merge ~/.Xdefaults

  5. Open a new xterm and test with tput and echo $TERM; you should see the following output:

    $ tput colors
    $ echo $TERM

    If you do, you're good to go.

Additionally, some applications will need special configuration to take advantage of the new capabilities.

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