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Damned color xterms ...

A number of recent linuces seem to  have  the  color  xterm
substituted  for  the  old two-color xterm.  The inevitable
result is that, no matter what background color I  seem  to
use,  some  programs seem to be very good at finding colors
that are unreadable.

Is there any known way to override the colors text of  such
programs,  and force them to use only the foreground color?
Any chance this is documented somewhere? The xterm man page
on  this  machine  doesn't seem to mention the subject (and
most of the other machines hereabouts don't  even  seem  to
have an xterm man page).

Alternatively, and probably even more useful: Are the color
escape  sequences  documented  anywhere?   It seems that it
might be possible to write a little program that munges the
background  color  on  the  fly, so you can experiment with
background until you get one that contrasts well.   Or  are
the color escape sequences only applied to the foreground?

One  particularly  obnoxious  example  is  the top command,
which seems to produce unreadable headers  no  matter  what
the  background  color  is.  It would be nice to be able to
undo this sort of nastiness.

The color xterm probably seemed like a Good Idea to someone
at the time ...

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