Best way to set TERMINFO for use with urxvt?

Richard Cobbe cobbe at
Sun Mar 20 10:29:57 PDT 2011

I'm thinking of switching from using XQuartz's xterm to using MacPorts's
urxvt, and I'm looking for the best way to deal with the supporting
terminfo definitions.

I've got 2 macs, both running Mac OS 10.6.6.

The basic problem is that, by default, urxvt starts up with
TERM=rxvt-unicode-256color, but /usr/share/terminfo doesn't contain a
matching entry, so I get a "WARNING: terminal is not fully functional"
message any time I try to do something interesting.

I've come up with the following possible strategies for dealing with this:

1) Forcibly reset TERM to xterm within urxvt.  This appears to work for all
of the complicated terminal things that I tend to do in my terminals: less,
vim, mutt, gls --color=always.

2) Start urxvt in an environment where TERMINFO=/opt/local/share/terminfo.
Now processes can see the terminfo entry, and everything works as expected
-- at least with processes on the local machine.  But when I ssh into my
other Mac (which also has MacPorts and rxvt-unicode installed), I get the
"WARNING: terminal is not fully functional" error message again.  I suppose
I could put something in my login scripts to set TERMINFO when necessary
and appropriate.

I'm not sufficiently familiar with how terminal settings behave on Unix to
know if there are any hidden problems with either of these options.  Do
either of these look like the right way to go?  Or is there another
solution I haven't listed here?

Recommendations very welcome.



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