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I installed ubuntu from the minimalcd because I just want to use vim and command line tools.

However I would like more than 80 columns of text. I have a large monitor so I would like at least a couple hundred columns so I can split panes in vim and have several windows open.

BTW ubuntu is installed as a VMWare Player VM. I have already verified that the VM settings are for a large monitor; it seems that my ubuntu setup is at issue.

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2 Answers

The variable $COLUMNS specifies how wide the terminal session is; so running COLUMNS=200 would make it 200 columns wide.

If you wanted to change that permanently you should put this in your ~/.bashrc file which is run every time you start a terminal.

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I added COLUMNS=200 to ~/.bashrc, then logged out and back in, but it didn't seem to help. I should point out that I don't even install any kind of graphical desktop, since I wanted it totally lean b/c it's in a VM on a laptop that's a few years old. That's why I went with ubuntu minimal. So it seems that the terminal is already started before I even have a chance to login and run my .bashrc... –  Kevin Pauli Nov 20 '12 at 0:19
    
In that case, it's likely that the width is determined by the getty program, which creates the command line interface you see on ubuntu minimal & server; I'll have a look into it –  jackweirdy Nov 20 '12 at 13:20
    
Thanks, I appreciate it. In case it is not going to be possible, and I do end up needing a desktop, I have asked another question here: askubuntu.com/questions/219841/… about which is the lightest weight desktop to give me what I need. –  Kevin Pauli Nov 20 '12 at 17:01
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I met about the same situation and the above answer was just what I was needed.

But in your case, here are some hints if you are still interested:

Execute: echo $COLUMNS. In my case is was 141. By manipulating with export COLUMNS=XXX I was indeed been able to adjust the columns amount.

And this 141 number comes from the next. My .bashrc file contains the next code:

# check the window size after each command and, if necessary,
# update the values of LINES and COLUMNS.
shopt -s checkwinsize

I don't know for sure, but pretty much seems like using shopt command Ubuntu detects my screen resolution and sets the according number of terminal columns. Again, setting export COLUMNS=XXX allows me to change this number for the current terminal window.

So in your particular case, you would have to add export COLUMNS=200 after the quoted shopt -s checkwinsize or at the very end of .bashrc.

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