I have been using M-x compile for ages. Lately (our sysadmin has updated many things) it hangs after giving this message: WARNING: terminal is not fully functional - (press RETURN). Pressing return does nothing. I have tried changing the terminal to xterm, vt102, etc. with no change. I get a similar warning with M-x shell but I can proceed after hitting return a few times. Need to get this functionality back, thanks!

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    You'll want to find out what program is running that is giving you that message (probably git or less or something similar). It's normal for TERM to equal dumb in M-x shell, because the shell mode does not interpret any kind of escape codes, so the warning is expected. You could try M-x term instead; TERM will be eterm-color there, which supports most or all of the features that git or less wants.
    – db48x
    Jul 9, 2020 at 15:10
  • @db4x Sorry if I wasn't clear. The command I am interested in running is M-x compile, which runs the command make -k. Perhaps M-x compile needs to invoke a different shell, but I have no idea how to do that. My knowledge of LISP is zero. Jul 9, 2020 at 19:15
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    The comment by @db48x was most likely still pertinent. See if you can replicate this outside of Emacs in a terminal, by running the command env TERM=dumb make -k. It sounds like something being run by make is failing to cope with a dumb terminal. (Presumably that thing is one of the things that your sysadmin updated, and the developers have introduced a bug.)
    – phils
    Jul 9, 2020 at 21:28
  • I just tried running the command @phils suggested. Make -k runs just fine. Jul 9, 2020 at 23:13
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    Taking @db48x advice, I traced the problem to the module command that was being invoked in my .cshrc. I fixed the problem by setting the environment variable MODULES_PAGER to cat. Thanks all! Jul 14, 2020 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


The problem arises because the M-x compile command uses the dumb terminal type and invokes .cshrc before running the command make -k. My .cshrc loads modules with the module command. The module command uses a pager which does not work properly with the dumb terminal type. The solution is to include the following in the .cshrc before the module command. The INSIDE_EMACS environment variable is set by the emacs shell. This also fixes M-x shell.

if (${?INSIDE_EMACS}) then
    setenv MODULES_PAGER cat

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