When I ssh from work to the local network, I can turn syntax on in my vim instance and it works. When I go home and ssh in, I turn on syntax highlighting and nothing happens. While at home, if I use my local vim, I have syntax highlighting.

This leads me to believe it's something to do with ssh. In my ssh session, folders still have a different color than files.

echo $term for work computer:


echo $term when ssh from work computer:


echo $term when ssh from home computer:


echo $term from home computer:


(will add the others when I get home)


colorscheme elflord
set number
syntax on
  • 7
    echo $TERM and see what differs...
    – user
    Aug 1, 2013 at 19:09
  • Post your ~/.vimrc files.
    – user26112
    Aug 1, 2013 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


xterm-color is probably not a supported terminfo description on your work computers. You can verify this is the case by running infocmp. You'll likely get an error of infocmp: couldn't open terminfo file.

The fix for this is to set your TERM variable to something more common, for example just 'xterm' (in fact on my own system, the xterm terminfo description has more capabilities than the xterm-color description anyway).
I'm guessing you've got a bash profile/rc script which is setting this, as xterm does not set TERM=xterm-color by default. If so, just change it to xterm instead. If you don't have this set anywhere, just add export TERM=xterm to your ~/.bashrc (this is assuming you're using bash).

  • I'm not sure I follow. When I ssh from work, I get xterm-color on the remote machine. When I xterm from home, I get xterm. So I think xterm-color is supported and my home computer just isn't defaulting to xterm-color.
    – Xurtio
    Aug 9, 2013 at 17:18
  • Ok, I tried the opposite of your suggestion. I set my home computer to TERM=xterm-color and all is fine now! Thanks for leading me to the answer! If you edit your answer to reflect my modification to it, I will accept it. Thanks again.
    – Xurtio
    Aug 9, 2013 at 17:20

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