The 90s called; they want their 256 colors back

Von Fugal von at
Sat Apr 26 12:14:31 MDT 2008

<quote name="Michael Torrie" date="Mon,  3 Mar 2008 at 20:50 -0700">
> This afternoon a coworker who used vim in a terminal heavily complained
> that he hated the 16-color schemes that vim used.  So we converted him
> to gvim in order to get him better color schemes like Hans' desert
> scheme.  Along the way, I thought, surely terminal emulators in this day
> and age support more than 16 colors.  Sure enough they do.  I discovered
> this page, which I will share with you:

Very cool, I never even thought to wonder if terminals could do more

> Apparently gnome-terminal and konsole both should work fine with 256
> colors (in any modern distro anyway).  There is even a link there to a
> desert256 color scheme!  After trying it out, I couldn't get it to work.
>  I have to manually tell vim about the colors:
> :set t_Co=256

> Then it works.  The color scheme itself is smart enough to check the
> colors, but vim apparently doesn't detect that 256 colors are available,
> so it never sets the variable.  Hence the scheme doesn't run.  Can any
> one tell me a better way in my vimrc to really detect it, say I'm
> running with TERM set to "xterm" and then force it to 256 colors?  And
> if someone wants to help me hack the desert256.vim file to set the
> background to grey instead of black, that'd be cool too!  My vimrc-foo
> is pretty weak.

Turns out xterm supports 256 color, but doesn't advertise that it does.
So anything that tries to determine if 256 will work will think xterm
doesn't. Answer, set your TERM=xterm-256color, perhaps only on the
condition that it was xterm to start with. You also need the term
definitions for xterm-256color. In debian, this comes in the
ncurses-term package.

> Michael, who is busily recompiling elinks to take advantage of 256 colors!

Well I have 256 colors in mutt :p
This is how I found out about xterm not advertising. A mutt mailing list
suggested the following to use a 256 color scheme only if you could
actually use it.

source color.`tput colors`.muttrc

tput colors should say 256 if your terminal is cool, or 8 otherwise.
Some might say 16, who knows. xterm will also say 256 if you set it to
xterm-256color as outlined above. Creating a 256 color scheme is
tedious, so I've included mine for all to play with.

Von Fugal
Freedom is Popular
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