I have a problem with making vim show a colorscheme fully (like in gvim). I've read about how to enable 256 color mode in terminal and it vim, but somehow it just doesn't work. The state of now is:

:echo &t_Co returns 256

[~]$ tput colors
[~]$ echo $TERM

Colortest shows all the colors: colortest

But yet, vim doesn't show grey20 color of the colorscheme, instead using the terminal background. I also tried changing it to grey without success: hi Normal

The system is ubuntu 14.04. and the terminal gnome terminal, although I've tried with terminator and tmux, with no success.

Any idea what could gone wrong?

  • 12
    And just for the next guy looking for colortest.vim: :so $VIMRUNTIME/syntax/colortest.vim Sep 23, 2018 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


The colorscheme must be missing cterm definitions, the full highlight command should look like:

hi Normal cterm=NONE ctermfg=15 ctermbg=7 gui=NONE guifg=White guibg=grey20

If your terminal supports 256 colors, you might need color codes greater than 16.

If you have a true color terminal, you could add these settings instead to enable 24-bit compatibility:

set termguicolors

" Correct RGB escape codes for vim inside tmux
if !has('nvim') && $TERM ==# 'screen-256color'
  let &t_8f = "\<Esc>[38;2;%lu;%lu;%lum"
  let &t_8b = "\<Esc>[48;2;%lu;%lu;%lum"

From the help for 'termguicolors':

Note that the cterm attributes are still used, not the gui ones.

Read more:

  • Good, simple solution. You may need to use tmux-256color in your comparison, nowadays.
    – Walf
    Sep 15, 2021 at 3:07

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