6. What You Should Do On Your System

Note again that the main issue that confuses people trying to fix their system is that usually they are fixing thing in the wrong place. Since the parts that work often just work by chance, trying to fix the system assuming something is broken will often lead to change correct settings into incorrect settings.

6.1. What Needs to Be Done

6.2. How to Do It


These fixes have some drawbacks. First, they work only for the specified terminals. Second, in theory (but this is unlikely to happen) they could confuse the readline library on other terminals. Both limitations are however mostly harmless.

First of all, check with infocmp gnome whether you already have a gnome entry in your terminfo database (we will fix termcap later). If the entry does not exist, the following command

bash$ tic <(infocmp xterm |\
        sed 's/xterm|/gnome|/' |\
        sed 's/kbs=\\177,/kbs=^H,/' |\
        sed 's/kdch1=\\E\[3~,/kdch1=\\177,/')
will create a correct one in ~/.terminfo. If the same command is launched by the root, it will generate the entry in the global database (you can override this behaviour by setting TERMINFO to ~/.terminfo). Note that if your xterm entry is already deviant (e.g., you have a Red Hat ≤5.0) the script will copy it unchanged, which is exactly what we want.

Now, add the following snippet to ~/.inputrc[1]:

"\e[3~": delete-char
This line teaches the readline library how to manage your standard Delete key for standard emulators, and with a bit of luck it should not interfere with other terminals. However, now we must also explain to the library the meaning of the DEL character on deviant terminals, for instance by adding

$if term=gnome
DEL: delete-char
Meta-DEL: kill-word
"\M-\C-?": kill-word
to ~/.inputrc. If xterm is deviant, too, you must add other three lines for it. On the other hand, if no terminal emulator is deviant this part is not needed. All these changes can be made global by altering the /etc/inputrc file.

Note that the conditional assignments make deviant terminal emulators work given that the TERM variable is set correctly. To guarantee this, there are a number of techniques. First of all, since the default value of the TERM variable for gnome-terminal is xterm, if all terminals are not deviant then we do nothing. If, however, a terminal that by default uses the xterm entry is deviant you must find a way to set the TERM variable correctly; assume for instance this is true of gnome-terminal.

The simplest way to obtain this effect is to start gnome-terminal with the argument --termname=gnome, for instance by suitably setting the command line in the launcher on the GNOME panel. If however you have an old version, and this method does not work, you can add the lines

if [ "$COLORTERM" = "gnome-terminal" ]
    export TERM=gnome
to your ~/.bashrc configuration file[2]. The assignment is executed only under gnome-terminal, and sets correctly the TERM variable.


Setting the terminal to gnome could prevent ls from using colours, as many versions of ls do not know that gnome-terminal is colour capable. To avoid this problem, create a configuration file ~/.dircolors with dircolors --print-database >~/.dircolors, and add a line TERM=gnome to the configuration file.

We will now generate on-the-fly a suitable termcap entry for deviant terminal emulators; this can be done as follows, always in ~/.bashrc:

if [ "$TERM" = "gnome" ]
    export TERMCAP=$(infocmp -C gnome | grep -v '^#' | \
                    tr '\n\t' '  ' | sed 's/\\  //g' | sed s/::/:/g)

Finally, we must explain to the terminal device which character is generated by the erase key. Since usually the erase key is expected to backspace, there is a nice trick taken from the Red Hat /etc/bashrc that works: add this to ~/.bashrc:

KBS=$(tput kbs)
if [ ${#KBS} -eq 1 ]; then stty erase $KBS; fi
It's a simple idea: we read from the terminal database the capability kbs, and set the erase character to its value if it is a single character (which happens in both standard and deviant terminals).


Certain distributions could have fixes already in place in the system-wide /etc/inputrc configuration file. In this case you can eliminate redundant lines from your ~/.inputrc.

6.3. Fixing for tcsh

In the case of the tcsh, the fixes go all in ~/.tcshrc, and follow the same rationale as the ones for the bash:

bindkey "^[[3~" delete-char

if ($?COLORTERM) then
   if ($COLORTERM == "gnome-terminal") then
      setenv TERM gnome

if ($?TERM) then
   if ($TERM == "gnome") then
      setenv TERMCAP \
       "`infocmp -C gnome | grep -v '^#' | tr '\n\t' '  ' | sed 's/\\  //g' | sed s/::/:/g`"
      bindkey "^?" delete-char
      bindkey "^[^?" delete-word
      bindkey "\377" delete-word

set KBS=`tput kbs`
if (${%KBS} == 1) then 
   stty erase $KBS
The second part must be replicated for every deviant terminal. Of course, if a termcap entry already exists it is not necessary to generate it.



On older version of the bash, you must remember to set INPUTRC suitably, for instance adding

export INPUTRC=~/.inputrc
to your ~/.profile (or whichever file is read just by login shells).


More precisely, to the shell configuration file that is read in every shell, not only in login shells. The right file depend on startup sequence of your bash.

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Generated: 2007-01-26 17:58:27