No colours at all with ncurses and urxvt on FreeBSD 9.0-RC2

Thomas Dickey dickey at
Fri Nov 25 13:19:32 UTC 2011

On Fri, Nov 25, 2011 at 01:02:15PM +0100, Moritz Wilhelmy wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 25, 2011 at 06:37:18 -0500, Thomas Dickey wrote:
> > On Fri, Nov 25, 2011 at 11:59:01AM +0100, Moritz Wilhelmy wrote:
> > > I can't get colours to work with urxvt (the "normal" urxvt, that is, not
> > > the 256-color one) over ssh. Google doesn't come up with any usable
> > > results for this particular case.. What bothers me is that a termcap
> > > entry for "rxvt-unicode" is present on the termcap file FreeBSD came
> > > with. I'm really clueless here, can someone give me a hint?
> > 
> > setting TERM to rxvt-256color looks like the way to fix that issue.
> Indeed, setting TERM to either "rxvt-256color" or "rxvt" gives me
> colours.  The remaining question is, why doesn't it work with
> "rxvt-unicode", which is also in the termcap file?

well... rxvt-unicode-256color was the effect of the checkins for termcap.src
for conf/152713 and conf/153164

The earlier one suggests that the naming came from rxvt-unicode's sources.
Checking that, it seems that the rxvt-unicode entry specifies 88 colors,
while the rxvt-unicode-256color entry (close to rxvt-256color) does 256.

However, the rxvt-unicode entry in FreeBSD was added for conf/117323,
which equated it to rxvt-mono (no color), with some changes for function-keys.

On the other hand, the rxvt entry uses color, which was overlooked in

# Termcap entry for rxvt-unicode, taken from
rxvt-unicode|rxvt-unicode terminal (X Window System):\

rxvt|rxvt terminal emulator (X Window System):\

Following the clue from the comment, the example using no color was present
in rxvt.7 until it was removed in version 9.05 of rxvt-unicode.  The current
documentation contains no examples (the termcap/terminfo are only separate

Thomas E. Dickey <dickey at>
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