Linux – Arch Linux’s default terminal

arch linuxx-windowsxterm

Using the command echo $TERM, I get the output 'xterm'. However, I have not done anything to install the X Windowing System, and as far as I know, Xterm cannot run without it, and Arch does not install it by default. (Furthermore, there isn't any manpage on xterm, and I would think that if I actually had xterm installed, it would have a manpage).

So is the default terminal for Arch Linux really Xterm? If so, how is it running without X? If not, why does the $TERM variable contain 'xterm', and what is the default terminal?

Best Answer

When you log in to the console without X11, you are using the Linux built-in "virtual console". It's built into the kernel and its terminfo name is linux, which is what you should be seeing in $TERM.

If your $TERM has anything else, carefully check your configuration, including:

  • the agetty lines in /etc/inittab (they should say linux at the end1)
  • system-wide shell startup scripts
    • /etc/profile, /etc/profile.d/*.sh
    • /etc/bash.bashrc (if using bash)
  • your own shell startup scripts
    • ~/.profile, ~/.bash_profile, ~/.bash_login, ~/.bashrc

1 Certain Arch Wiki pages suggest configuring agetty in inittab to use xterm or even xterm-256color. This is nonsense.