remote [ssh] Backspace] key gives me "^?"

Gary Kline kline at
Sat Sep 15 13:28:24 PDT 2007

On Sat, Sep 15, 2007 at 10:58:52AM -0700, Garrett Cooper wrote:
> Chad Perrin wrote:
> >On Fri, Sep 14, 2007 at 06:01:03PM -0700, Gary Kline wrote:
> >  
> >>	Sometimes when I ssh from a remote server and edit a file with
> >>	vi, my [Backspace keys] are not interpretered correctly.  
> >>	Instead of erasing characters and backing up one byte and
> >>	clearing that character my cursor moves forward.
> >>
> >>	Example: typing "This" as "thos" and backspacing to the 'o'
> >>	I'll see "thos^?^?"    Can anybody 'splain what idiot thing i'm
> >>	doing wrong and how to fix it?
> >>
> >>	tia,
> >>
> >>	gary
> >>    
> >
> >I tend to guess you're using a terminal emulator from within X when
> >logging in remotely -- probably aterm or another rxvt-based terminal
> >emulator.  I had similar problems.  I don't recall my exact fix, but it
> >involved a two-tiered approach:
> >
> >  1. set a behavior using stty

	Trying to use stty failed... .

> >  2. change a setting in the aterm makefile before installing from ports
> >
> >My reference to the aterm makefile in part of the solution is because I
> >suffered this problem when I used aterm as my terminal emulator of
> >choice.  I have since then switched to rxvt-unicode (also known as urxvt)
> >as my preferred terminal emulator, however, and no longer have this
> >problem (as well as no longer having funny broken ASCII spew on my screen
> >when reading email that contains unicode characters).
> >
> >Best o' luck.  Let us know if you think this pseudo-solution doesn't
> >apply to you so we can help you brainstorm other diagnoses of your
> >problem.
>    It's because the TERM'inal emulation / keyboard layout's not 
> meshing. ^?--as I discovered after I asked the question ~8 months 
> ago--is a remnant DEC keyboard mapping, when if properly addressed by 
> setting TERM or fixing the keyboard layout to a standard ASCII keyboard 
> layout, the problem will go away.
> In shorter terms, if you...
>    1. ... switch over to TERM=xterm (assuming that the terminal prog 
> you're using is xterm compatible) under the settings for the app (if 
> they exist) ...
>    2. ... script in a fix so that it does this in your login shell [you 
> shouldn't use xterm systemwide for your TERM var, especially if you 
> login remotely via SSH and use CLI programs like pine (pine's stupid and 
> doesn't know how to emulate the xterm terminal properly without hacking 
> the source IIRC)] ...

	Ok, I have TERM Set everywhere, plus in ~./zlogin, I have stty
	set things  correctly, so it must be 3.

>    3. ... fix the keyboard layout ...

	Problem here is HOW?  Many months ago my daughter spilled a 
	glass of water on my working IBM keyboard.  Surprise, the
	water washed away the rinted leads... . (*mumble*) Since I 
	have a few others, (old, without the M$ cr*ap keys), I 
	chose the best, least sticky keyboard and used it.

	I remapped my ~/.xmodmaprc file {{ "temporarily", ha, ha }}.
	How else do I fix the layout?   IIRC, there was some place
	to set the keyboard: 101, 104, 105, &c.  This old one is 
	probably a 101-key model.  It's a no-name deal.  

	Clues please?


	PS: {{ WARNING}}: I'Ve got a beg-athon posting upcooming....

> ... '^?' will be replaced with backspaces. 3. is the best solution, but 
> I had to do 1. before, because I didn't have root access on the servers.
> Cheers,
> -Garrett
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  Gary Kline  kline at  Public Service Unix

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