I installed Urxvt on Ubuntu 18.04 to test it and when I opened Vim I saw the weird colors on the left, when it should be as shown on the right:
Vim Weird Colors   Vim Okay Colors

I tried to change the color scheme, I set the t_Co=256, my $TERM is xterm-256color, in .Xresources the termName is xterm-256color, everything I changed and nothing happened, this weird thing is still here.

Xterm uses the same config file, and in Xterm everything is normal. Currently I use Terminator, but I want to use Urxvt, but I need to solve this. I read about the lack of true color support that Urxvt has, but I don't if this is the case because other YouTubers use Urxt with normal color schemes in Vim.

  • Did you logout and login again after every change? Jun 19, 2019 at 3:08
  • 1
    Yes I did, but it didn't solve either. Jun 19, 2019 at 11:33
  • "my $TERM is xterm-256color" – I'm not sure if it's a wise choice. Have you tried urxvt's default, that is, rxvt-unicode-256color?
    – egmont
    Jun 19, 2019 at 13:53
  • Yes, I tried... Nothing yet. Jun 19, 2019 at 17:22

2 Answers 2


tldr: Workaround - set term to 88 color mode.

I've also had issues like this. I found that urxvt as provided in centos(7, and 8-stream) only supports 88 color mode. It even provides the symlink /usr/bin/urxvt256c -> urxvt. But doesn't actually work for me for 256 colors.

256colors2.pl shows a few random colors in the index above 88, but mostly black. Otherwise only system colors and the first 2 6x6 color cubes look OK. I instead set my TERM to xterm-88color to match the actual capability. VIM looking OK again, and color themes look better. Jellybeans is has been my go to theme.

After - corrected colors urxvt.termName: xterm-88color urxvt256c.termName: xterm-256color

I tried to compile urxvt from source to enable that option, but the configure script seems to ignore most specified options. I gave up on trying to get that to work.

Hmm.. I wonder if I can manually set the other colors?


Not an expert, but I've had similar issues setting up urxvt/vim. I fixed it with the setting set notermguicolors and set background=dark in vim, though the latter might not be necessary in your case.

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