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When running vim under GNU screen, I'm finding that combinations of CTRL with the arrow and Pg* keys don't work as expected.

I'm using the Ubuntu 10.10 vim-gnome package.

On a different machine, also running Ubuntu, this did work without problems; unfortunately I don't have that configuration available to me now.

There is a related question here: How to fix Ctrl + arrows in Vim?

However, the suggested solution there is to remap vim's keybindings to work with the terminal emulator, in that case PuTTY. I don't recall doing anything of the sort, and suspect that there is a screen configuration option which will resolve this issue.

There's also a thread on the gnu-screen mailing list which suggests that running vim via $ TERM=xterm vim is an appropriate fix or workaround. This does work, but I'm a bit concerned that there might be side effects. It also doesn't sound familiar enough to be the solution I set up on the other machine (if a solution was necessary).

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+1 - I was having the same problem and - as you suggested - adding term xterm to my ~/.screenrc file fixed it for me. Thanks again! –  Justin Ethier Feb 24 '11 at 18:59
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2 Answers

As intuited stated in his update, adding term xterm to the ~/.screenrc file seems to fix this problem.

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Well.. yes, but I'm holding out for some sort of explanation as to why screen doesn't just propagate the $TERM environment variable instead of overriding it with "screen". Presumably there are some circumstances where it's important to have $TERM == screen. –  intuited Feb 26 '11 at 4:56
@intuited: The reason Screen sets TERM=screen is that applications running inside are communicating inside a Screen terminal: the control sequences they send and receive are those of Screen, not those of whatever terminal Screen itself is being displayed. Since you can detach a Screen session and reattach it to a different type of terminal, this layer of indirection is necessary. –  Gilles Mar 26 '11 at 12:31
@Gilles: Thanks, I suspected something like that. What sorts of problems could arise from resetting it to xterm? –  intuited Mar 26 '11 at 20:10
Not much, because xterm and screen are mostly compatible. But each has a few capabilities that the other one doesn't, and if you lie to applications, they might use a capability that doesn't actually work. Compare the output of infocmp screen and infocmp xterm, and the screen escape sequences with the xterm escape sequences. I don't have a breakdown to offer; most applications won't mind, but a few might behave annoyingly. –  Gilles Mar 27 '11 at 17:32
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There are a couple of other ways to set the terminal which work in running processes:

  • In a running screen instance, pressing ^A-: and issuing the command term xterm will cause newly opened screens under that instance to start with their $TERM environment variable set to xterm; this will in turn propagate to invoked vim instances. These vim instances will display proper behaviour with regard to CTRL-combos; I've not yet discovered any side effects of this strategy. This command does not affect existing screens. This command can of course be used in a ~/.screenrc file, so it's possible that this method was used on the other machine.

  • In a running vim instance, the command set term=xterm will make CTRL-combos work in that vim instance. This has the side effect of disconnecting the X clipboard (i.e. @* and @+) for reasons that I do not yet understand. Interestingly, the clipboard side effect also happens when the command :set term=screen is executed in a vim instance started with $TERM=xterm.

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This answer was taken from the OP's updates. All I did was to reformat and reword a little bit. –  phunehehe Mar 26 '11 at 8:42
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