What is a terminal type or terminal emulation, and how do I set it?

Terminal type or emulation specifies how your computer and the host computer to which you are connected exchange information. You need to set your terminal type so that both computers communicate in the same way. Otherwise, your telnet, SSH, or terminal application will not have enough information to perform actions such as clearing the screen, moving the cursor around, and placing characters.

The most commonly emulated terminal type is the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) VT100 terminal. Most PC and Mac OS terminal emulation packages support this type.

If the computer to which you connect does not automatically detect your terminal type, you'll need to set it manually. The procedure for doing so varies from system to system. Follow the steps below which pertain to your system.


To determine your shell, at the Unix prompt, enter echo $SHELL .

On a Unix system, enter one of the following lines at your shell prompt, depending on the shell you use (be sure to capitalize the command correctly):

Shell Command
csh or tcsh setenv TERM vt100
sh TERM=vt100; export TERM
ksh, bash, or zsh export TERM=vt100

On some Unix systems you may be prompted for your terminal type upon login. Press Enter to accept the default choice if one is offered, or enter vt100.

Setting the terminal type permanently

If you'd rather not type these lines each time you log into your account, you may add this line to the initialization file located in the home directory of your account. Consult the list below for the name of the initialization file for your particular shell:

Shell Login file
csh .cshrc or .login
tcsh .cshrc
ksh .profile
zsh .zshrc
bash .bash_profile

Other options

Your communications software itself should offer you a number of other options, including whether your Backspace key should be set as "backspace" (ASCII code 8) or "delete" (ASCII code 127). For nearly all UITS hosts at Indiana University, you'll probably want your Backspace key to send a delete or rub-out character.

At Indiana University, for personal or departmental Linux or Unix systems support, see At IU, how do I get support for Linux or Unix?

This is document acpy in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2017-05-16 11:51:38.

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