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I recentely installed GNU screen on a machine I ssh into. How do I get GNU screen to use 256 colors?

So far, I've tried adding the following to my .screenrc:

term screen-256color


attrcolor b ".I"    # allow bold colors - necessary for some reason
termcapinfo xterm 'Co#256:AB=\E[48;5;%dm:AF=\E[38;5;%dm'   # tell screen how to set colors. AB = background, AF=foreground
defbce on    # use current bg color for erased chars

but neither worked.

In the login shell, before I start screen, when I run this script, which prints 256 colors, I get normal output. When I use the command tput colors I get the output 8.

When I start screen and run the script, I get 16 colors mapped to 256 colors - there are large blocks of solid color. When I run tput colors I get 256 (when term screen-256color is in my .screenrc).

edit: I got it to work - I didn't configure screen with the --enable-colors256 option.

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What does echo $COLORTERM say? – Alexei Averchenko Dec 12 '11 at 15:41
undefined, but I got it to work - I recompiled it with the --enable-colors256 option. – Scott Dec 12 '11 at 16:18
I have file names in color, but command prompt in black-and-white. Is you prompt in color also? (I mean - after you've re-build it yourself) – Adobe Jan 30 '12 at 9:31

I personally put it in ~/.bashrc

export TERM=xterm-256color

If that does not work, what terminal are you using ?

share|improve this answer
This is what fixed it for me. Need this in ~/.bashrc and the 3 lines listed in the original question for attrcolor, termcapinfo and defbce in the .screenrc. Thanks. – Matthew Apr 24 '13 at 16:43
This worked. But adding the other stuff to ~/.screenrc makes everything output escape sequences instead of colors, like some sort of alien terminal. – trusktr Jul 9 '14 at 0:55

If you built screen from source you'll need to recompile it with the 256 color flag enabled. Run ./configure --enable-colors256 && make && sudo make install

share|improve this answer
This was my problem! I recompiled the source code, and added those three lines to my .screenrc! – Mostafa Shahverdy Oct 31 '14 at 5:46

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