Couldn't we enable 256 colors by default on TERM?

Pádraig Brady P at
Wed May 30 09:04:49 UTC 2012

On 05/30/2012 09:30 AM, Kévin Raymond wrote:
> Hi there,
> We are building a leading edge Operating System, but still use only 8bit colors
> by default in our terminal (I don't know about KDE… I stay under
> GNOME, gnome-term (xterm)).
> This limit the colors of many applications like vim, screen, tmux, weechat…
> As seen (quick but not exhaustive check), all dependencies for xterm
> in 256 colors are there,
> we just need to define `TERM=xterm-256color' in order to get 256 colors…
> So what would be needed?

I've some notes about 256 colors here:

If you restrict yourself to local xterms
(of most varieties) you're fine.


256 color doesn't work correctly on Linux virtual consoles.

Also since your $TERM is propagated to remote systems
when you ssh, if they don't support that you'll have issues.
For example sshing to debian systems (I've not tried newer releases)
will be problematic unless a package in installed there.
Also if I ssh to solaris then I need to reset TERM to "xterm"
for man pages to work correctly etc.

So it's one of those borderline things that is unfortunately
dependent on the users environment, so I'd be wary about
changing this default.


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