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so when I log into the terminal from my login screen (by typing >console as username), I get logged in to the terminal. However, when I try to use vim or anything useful, it only takes up around 1/4 of the screen, as seen in this photo (sorry for reflection!!): enter image description here

How do I adjust the size of the terminal so it takes up the whole screen, rather than leaving most of the screen black? Also text colouring in vim doesn't work when in this mode, if anyone knows how to fix that too!

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+1 for teaching me the '>console' trick. That's a new one on me. –  SSteve Mar 13 '13 at 16:55
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When I log in, the entire width of the screen is used so I'm not sure how to answer that part of the question. But as far as enabling text coloring in vim, add this line to your .bash_profile:

export TERM="xterm-256color"

Terminal does that automatically for you, but you have to do it yourself in this mode.

Edit - screen width in vim

To set the screen width in vim, add this line to your .vimrc file:

set columns=XXX

Where "XXX" is the number of columns you want.

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Wait, so when you log in and open vim or type top, it takes up 100% of the screen? What screen resolution (pixels) is your screen? –  Conor Taylor Mar 13 '13 at 17:39
    
I did less *.tex in a directory with a wide TeX file and it used the entire width of the screen. But I just tried vim and top and they do limit the width of their content. So it might be a per-application issue. I just figured out how to do it in vim. I'll update my answer. I haven't figured it out for top yet. –  SSteve Mar 13 '13 at 20:24
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