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Re: How do I avoid purple-on-black and yellow-on-white?

From: Trent W. Buck
Subject: Re: How do I avoid purple-on-black and yellow-on-white?
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2014 11:21:33 +1100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3 (gnu/linux)

Barry OReilly <address@hidden> writes:

> I use graphical most of the time so don't generally notice terminal
> display issues. Under this setup, the terminal colors are very
> different from the graphical, but a brief look didn't uncover any poor
> contrast.

Probably because you were on a terminal that claimed 8-color support (16
if it treats bold as "bright colors").  With 256-color terminals, the
difference is much less noticable.

You can test easily with "tput colors".

With the appropriate package installed (e.g. "ncurses-base" on Debian),
you can change your terminal from e.g. TERM=xterm to
TERM=xterm-256color, and Emacs will use nonstandard escape sequences to
produce eight-bit colors.

If you've also customized the basic 16 colors, this can look strange :-)

M-x list-colors-display RET to have a look.

If that looks mostly blue-green, you're mixing up 256 and 88 color
terminals.  This used to arise with urxvt; I don't know if it supports
256 colors yet.

Eight-color sequences are portable between terminals, see tput(1) and
terminfo(5) ref. setaf, setab, bold and sgr0.

88/256 color sequences are not portable, but IME all use the xterm
sequences.  For these, M-x find library RET term/xterm RET, also see

I've avoided 256-color terminals for many years, because they oblige me
to theme apps instead of just the terminal (and 8 colors is usually
enough for me).  Back when I did, I wrote some notes:

Hopefully this brain dump is useful to someone :-)

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