‘rxvt-unicode-256color’: unknown terminal type.

Got the above error message when I ssh’d into a Linux host from a urxvt terminal in cygwin. The problem is that the Linux box did not know the ‘properties’ of the type of terminal I was using, so could not manipulate it properly. It was fine just typing stuff and seeing the results scroll off the screen, but even running say


(which requires writing to specific positions on the screen, rather than just on the next new line) would cause the error. The solution is at


but it is short and repeated at the end of this post just because webpages can be evanescent.  Note that on cygwin the requisite file is in


at least, it is on my machine.  So on the external host I did

mkdir -p ~/.terminfo/r/

while on cygwin machine I did

scp /usr/share/terminfo/72/rxvt-unicode-256color  username@computer.whatever:.terminfo/r/


And awaaayyy….


                  Written on 1.8.2012
Problem description

You open a SSH connection to an external host and when you try to do
something that requires extended terminal support you get an error along the
lines: "'rxvt-unicode-256color': unknown terminal type."


1. Run the following command on the external host to make a terminfo directory
   under the logged in user's home folder.

       mkdir -p ~/.terminfo/r/

2. Copy the appropriate terminal profile from your local machine to the newly
   created folder on the remote host.

       scp /usr/share/terminfo/r/rxvt-unicode-256color user@helloworld.com:.terminfo/r/

3. Restart the SSH connection. It should work now.

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About Darren

I'm a scientist by training, based in Australia.

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