Emacs 8-bit input as meta key
When logged into a remote machine, I run emacs inside an xterm window using "emacs -nw".
Starting with emacs 21, I'm having trouble getting 8-bit data to be interpreted as a meta key; instead of M-d I get an a-umlaut. I have access to 4 Linux machines which behave differently:
Machine 1 (RH 9; emacs 21.2): LANG=en-US.UTF8 produces accented characters;
LANG=en-US gives meta key.
Machine 2 (RH 9; emacs 21.2): Always gives meta key.
Machine 3 (Debian 3; emacs 21.2): Always gives meta key.
Machine 4 (SuSE 9; emacs 21.3): Never gives meta key.
So far as I can tell, the environments on all 4 machines are the same, but I don't understand all this locale stuff, nor the new mule support in emacs.
Can someone tell me a reliable way to force emacs to interpret 8-bit characters the old way, that is, as though the meta key were held down? I'm willing to disable international character support if necessary. The only kluge I've been able to come up with is to reprogram all the 8-bit keys I use to not self-insert, but rather map to their meta equivalents, but there's surely a better way.
I'm considering switching from RH to SuSE, but want to get this resolved first if possible.