Debian Linux - Terminal Type


I am using SSH puTTy client to login to my Debian Linux Server, however after upgrading, it no longer likes the 'xterm' terminal type.

When i issue commands such as 'clear' or 'top' i get:

'xterm': unknown terminal type.

I have tried various others: vt100, linux etc etc.

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Karl Heinz KremerCommented:
What did you upgrade, the server or puTTy? Which terminal is reported when you log on the server using the console? The system should know linux, vt100 or xterm.
angelousAuthor Commented:

i upgraded debian, using apt-get upgrade. then the next time i logged in this started to happen.

when i dont set a term type and run

root@xbox:~# echo $TERM

Hope this helps.
Karl Heinz KremerCommented:
Did you install the terminfo package?
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angelousAuthor Commented:
Well i havnt actively installed that seperately. How do i get and install that? Or detect if its present.

My server is telnet administered only.

Karl Heinz KremerCommented:
To find out if you have terminfo installed, check the directory
The directory contains sub directories with letter names. If you are looking e.g. for the xterm description, go to the x directory and see if the xterm file is there.

I've never used apt-get (or Debian), but I think the command to install it is
apt-get install terminfo

You could do a
apt-get --dry-run  install terminfo
first to see if it would even install the package.
angelousAuthor Commented:

no such directory.

i run that command but says no package found.

this is most annoying as i cant see any realy reason why an upgrade would do this?

Karl Heinz KremerCommented:
I just found this on

8.6.9 Set console to the correct type
Console screens in Unix-like systems are usually accessed using (n)curses library routines. These give the user a terminal-independent method of updating character screens with reasonable optimization. See ncurses(3X) and terminfo(5).

On a Debian system, there are quite a lot of predefined entries:

     $ toe | less                  # all entries
     $ toe /etc/terminfo/ | less   # user reconfigurable entries
Export your selection as environment variable TERM.

If the terminfo entry for xterm doesn't work with a non-Debian xterm, change your terminal type from "xterm" to one of the feature-limited versions such as "xterm-r6" when you log in to a Debian system remotely. See /usr/share/doc/libncurses5/FAQ for more. "dumb" is the lowest common denominator for terminfo.


Try the toe command to see if it's there. This should list all known terminal types. If this also fails, we have to figure out why the apt-get does not work.

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angelousAuthor Commented:
Thank you so much. You Have saved me a big headache.

Your help is much appreciated.

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