I have problem starting shell in Emacs. When I do "M-x shell", this error message come up in shell buffer:

no sessions

open terminal failed: terminal does not support clear

Process shell finished

So please help. My Emacs version is 25.2.2 on Ubuntu

  • Does this happen if you run emacs without your init file by starting it as emacs -Q?
    – zck
    May 25, 2018 at 18:25
  • When I start Emacs from terminal with '-Q' or without it, Emacs shell works in both cases. But when I start Emacs from 'Application Menu', Emacs shell won't work. May 26, 2018 at 1:16

1 Answer 1


This is not a problem with Emacs, it is a problem with your shell's initialisation files or the shell itself.

M-x shell runs the shell in an environment where the TERM variable is set to dumb, which informs the shell and applications that the terminal does not support any terminal control escape sequences. Apparently something in your initialisation files expects to be able to clear the terminal, and the shell terminates if the terminal doesn't support being cleared.

If you really want a shell in Emacs with a full terminal emulator, M-x term will do that. However, I would recommend that you fix your shell initialisation so that it works on dumb terminals.

  • Thanks for your reply. But how to fix shell initialization? May 26, 2018 at 15:32
  • @ذوالفقارعبدالحليم Comment out all the code in your shell config files and check whether that allows M-x shell to work. If so, uncomment the code again in stages, and narrow down exactly which part(s) of the config cause the problem. Once you've done that, you can update your question with more specific details of the cause (and, if you figured out how to fix it, you could post an answer as well).
    – phils
    May 27, 2018 at 12:11

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