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infocmp General Commands Manual infocmp


infocmp – compare or print out terminfo descriptions


infocmp [-1CDEFGIKLTUVcdegilnpqrtux] [-v n] [-s d| i| l| c] [-Q n] [-R subset] [-w width] [-A directory] [-B directory] [termname…]


infocmp can be used to compare a binary terminfo entry with other ter‐
minfo entries, rewrite a terminfo description to take advantage of the
use= terminfo field, or print out a terminfo description from the
binary file (term) in a variety of formats. In all cases, the boolean
fields will be printed first, followed by the numeric fields, followed
by the string fields.

Default Options
If no options are specified and zero or one termnames are specified,
the -I option will be assumed. If more than one termname is specified,
the -d option will be assumed.

Comparison Options [-d] [-c] [-n] infocmp compares the terminfo description of the first terminal
termname with each of the descriptions given by the entries for the
other terminal’s termnames. If a capability is defined for only one of
the terminals, the value returned will depend on the type of the capa‐
bility: F for boolean variables, -1 for integer variables, and NULL for
string variables.

The -d option produces a list of each capability that is different
between two entries. This option is useful to show the difference
between two entries, created by different people, for the same or simi‐
lar terminals.

The -c option produces a list of each capability that is common between
two or more entries. Capabilities that are not set are ignored. This
option can be used as a quick check to see if the -u option is worth

The -n option produces a list of each capability that is in none of the
given entries. If no termnames are given, the environment variable
TERM will be used for both of the termnames. This can be used as a
quick check to see if anything was left out of a description.

Source Listing Options [-I] [-L] [-C] [-r] The -I, -L, and -C options will produce a source listing for each ter‐
minal named.

-I use the terminfo names
-L use the long C variable name listed in
-C use the termcap names
-r when using -C, put out all capabilities in termcap form
-K modifies the -C option, improving BSD-compatibility.

If no termnames are given, the environment variable TERM will be used
for the terminal name.

The source produced by the -C option may be used directly as a termcap
entry, but not all parameterized strings can be changed to the termcap
format. infocmp will attempt to convert most of the parameterized
information, and anything not converted will be plainly marked in the
output and commented out. These should be edited by hand.

For best results when converting to termcap format, you should use both
-C and -r. Normally a termcap description is limited to 1023 bytes.
infocmp trims away less essential parts to make it fit. If you are
converting to one of the (rare) termcap implementations which accept an
unlimited size of termcap, you may want to add the -T option. More
often however, you must help the termcap implementation, and trim
excess whitespace (use the -0 option for that).

All padding information for strings will be collected together and
placed at the beginning of the string where termcap expects it. Manda‐
tory padding (padding information with a trailing ‘/’) will become

All termcap variables no longer supported by terminfo, but which are
derivable from other terminfo variables, will be output. Not all ter‐
minfo capabilities will be translated; only those variables which were
part of termcap will normally be output. Specifying the -r option will
take off this restriction, allowing all capabilities to be output in
termcap form. Normally you would use both the -C and -r options. The
actual format used incorporates some improvements for escaped charac‐
ters from terminfo format. For a stricter BSD-compatible translation,
use the -K option rather than -C.

Note that because padding is collected to the beginning of the capabil‐
ity, not all capabilities are output. Mandatory padding is not sup‐
ported. Because termcap strings are not as flexible, it is not always
possible to convert a terminfo string capability into an equivalent
termcap format. A subsequent conversion of the termcap file back into
terminfo format will not necessarily reproduce the original terminfo

Some common terminfo parameter sequences, their termcap equivalents,
and some terminal types which commonly have such sequences, are:

terminfo termcap Representative Terminals
%p1%c %. adm
%p1%d %d hp, ANSI standard, vt100
%p1%’x’%+%c %+x concept
%i %iq ANSI standard, vt100
%p1%?%’x’%>%t%p1%’y’%+%; %>xy concept
%p2 is printed before %p1 %r hp

Use= Option [-u] The -u option produces a terminfo source description of the first ter‐
minal termname which is relative to the sum of the descriptions given
by the entries for the other terminals termnames. It does this by ana‐
lyzing the differences between the first termname and the other
termnames and producing a description with use= fields for the other
terminals. In this manner, it is possible to retrofit generic terminfo
entries into a terminal’s description. Or, if two similar terminals
exist, but were coded at different times or by different people so that
each description is a full description, using infocmp will show what
can be done to change one description to be relative to the other.

A capability will get printed with an at-sign (@) if it no longer
exists in the first termname, but one of the other termname entries
contains a value for it. A capability’s value gets printed if the
value in the first termname is not found in any of the other termname
entries, or if the first of the other termname entries that has this
capability gives a different value for the capability than that in the
first termname.

The order of the other termname entries is significant. Since the ter‐
minfo compiler tic does a left-to-right scan of the capabilities, spec‐
ifying two use= entries that contain differing entries for the same
capabilities will produce different results depending on the order that
the entries are given in. infocmp will flag any such inconsistencies
between the other termname entries as they are found.

Alternatively, specifying a capability after a use= entry that contains
that capability will cause the second specification to be ignored.
Using infocmp to recreate a description can be a useful check to make
sure that everything was specified correctly in the original source

Another error that does not cause incorrect compiled files, but will
slow down the compilation time, is specifying extra use= fields that
are superfluous. infocmp will flag any other termname use= fields that
were not needed.

Changing Databases [-A directory] [-B directory] Like other ncurses utilities, infocmp looks for the terminal descrip‐
tions in several places. You can use the TERMINFO and TERMINFO_DIRS
environment variables to override the compiled-in default list of
places to search (see curses(3X) for details).

You can also use the options -A and -B to override the list of places
to search when comparing terminal descriptions:

· The -A option sets the location for the first termname

· The -B option sets the location for the other termnames.

Using these options, it is possible to compare descriptions for a ter‐
minal with the same name located in two different databases. For
instance, you can use this feature for comparing descriptions for the
same terminal created by different people.

Other Options
-0 causes the fields to be printed on one line, without wrapping.

-1 causes the fields to be printed out one to a line. Otherwise, the
fields will be printed several to a line to a maximum width of 60

-a tells infocmp to retain commented-out capabilities rather than
discarding them. Capabilities are commented by prefixing them
with a period.

-D tells infocmp to print the database locations that it knows about,
and exit.

-E Dump the capabilities of the given terminal as tables, needed in
the C initializer for a TERMTYPE structure (the terminal capabil‐
ity structure in the ). This option is useful for prepar‐
ing versions of the curses library hardwired for a given terminal
type. The tables are all declared static, and are named according
to the type and the name of the corresponding terminal entry.

Before ncurses 5.0, the split between the -e and -E options was
not needed; but support for extended names required making the
arrays of terminal capabilities separate from the TERMTYPE struc‐

-e Dump the capabilities of the given terminal as a C initializer for
a TERMTYPE structure (the terminal capability structure in the
). This option is useful for preparing versions of the
curses library hardwired for a given terminal type.

-F compare terminfo files. This assumes that two following arguments
are filenames. The files are searched for pairwise matches
between entries, with two entries considered to match if any of
their names do. The report printed to standard output lists
entries with no matches in the other file, and entries with more
than one match. For entries with exactly one match it includes a
difference report. Normally, to reduce the volume of the report,
use references are not resolved before looking for differences,
but resolution can be forced by also specifying -r.

-f Display complex terminfo strings which contain if/then/else/endif
expressions indented for readability.

-G Display constant literals in decimal form rather than their char‐
acter equivalents.

-g Display constant character literals in quoted form rather than
their decimal equivalents.

-i Analyze the initialization (is1, is2, is3), and reset (rs1, rs2,
rs3), strings in the entry, as well as those used for start‐
ing/stopping cursor-positioning mode (smcup, rmcup) as well as
starting/stopping keymap mode (smkx, rmkx).

For each string, the code tries to analyze it into actions in
terms of the other capabilities in the entry, certain X3.64/ISO
6429/ECMA-48 capabilities, and certain DEC VT-series private modes
(the set of recognized special sequences has been selected for
completeness over the existing terminfo database). Each report
line consists of the capability name, followed by a colon and
space, followed by a printable expansion of the capability string
with sections matching recognized actions translated into
{}-bracketed descriptions.

Here is a list of the DEC/ANSI special sequences recognized:

Action Meaning
RIS full reset
SC save cursor
RC restore cursor
LL home-down
RSR reset scroll region
DECSTR soft reset (VT320)
S7C1T 7-bit controls (VT220)
ISO DEC G0 enable DEC graphics for G0
ISO UK G0 enable UK chars for G0
ISO US G0 enable US chars for G0
ISO DEC G1 enable DEC graphics for G1
ISO UK G1 enable UK chars for G1
ISO US G1 enable US chars for G1
DECPAM application keypad mode
DECPNM normal keypad mode
DECANSI enter ANSI mode
ECMA[+-]AM keyboard action mode
ECMA[+-]IRM insert replace mode
ECMA[+-]SRM send receive mode
ECMA[+-]LNM linefeed mode
DEC[+-]CKM application cursor keys
DEC[+-]ANM set VT52 mode

DEC[+-]COLM 132-column mode
DEC[+-]SCLM smooth scroll
DEC[+-]SCNM reverse video mode
DEC[+-]OM origin mode
DEC[+-]AWM wraparound mode
DEC[+-]ARM auto-repeat mode

It also recognizes a SGR action corresponding to ANSI/ISO
6429/ECMA Set Graphics Rendition, with the values NORMAL, BOLD,
UNDERLINE, BLINK, and REVERSE. All but NORMAL may be prefixed
with `+’ (turn on) or `-‘ (turn off).

An SGR0 designates an empty highlight sequence (equivalent to

-l Set output format to terminfo.

-p Ignore padding specifications when comparing strings.

-Q n Rather than show source in terminfo (text) format, print the com‐
piled (binary) format in hexadecimal or base64 form, depending on
the option’s value:

1 hexadecimal

2 base64

3 hexadecimal and base64

-q This makes the output a little shorter:

· Make the comparison listing shorter by omitting subheadings,
and using “-” for absent capabilities, “@” for canceled rather
than “NULL”.

· Omit the “Reconstructed from” comment for source listings.

Restrict output to a given subset. This option is for use with
archaic versions of terminfo like those on SVr1, Ultrix, or HP/UX
that do not support the full set of SVR4/XSI Curses terminfo; and
variants such as AIX that have their own extensions incompatible
with SVr4/XSI.

Available terminfo subsets are “SVr1”, “Ultrix”, “HP”, and “AIX”;
see terminfo(5) for details. You can also choose the subset “BSD”
which selects only capabilities with termcap equivalents recog‐
nized by 4.4BSD.

-s [d|i|l|c] The -s option sorts the fields within each type according to the
argument below:

d leave fields in the order that they are stored in the ter‐
minfo database.

i sort by terminfo name.

l sort by the long C variable name.

c sort by the termcap name.

If the -s option is not given, the fields printed out will be
sorted alphabetically by the terminfo name within each type,
except in the case of the -C or the -L options, which cause the
sorting to be done by the termcap name or the long C variable
name, respectively.

-T eliminates size-restrictions on the generated text. This is
mainly useful for testing and analysis, since the compiled
descriptions are limited (e.g., 1023 for termcap, 4096 for ter‐

-t tells tic to discard commented-out capabilities. Normally when
translating from terminfo to termcap, untranslatable capabilities
are commented-out.

-U tells infocmp to not post-process the data after parsing the
source file. This feature helps when comparing the actual con‐
tents of two source files, since it excludes the inferences that
infocmp makes to fill in missing data.

-V reports the version of ncurses which was used in this program, and

-v n prints out tracing information on standard error as the program
runs. Higher values of n induce greater verbosity.

-w width
changes the output to width characters.

-x print information for user-defined capabilities. These are exten‐
sions to the terminfo repertoire which can be loaded using the -x
option of tic.

/etc/terminfo Compiled terminal description database.

The -0, -1, -E, -F, -G, -R, -T, -V, -a, -e, -f, -g, -i, -l, -p, -q and
-t options are not supported in SVr4 curses.

The -r option’s notion of `termcap’ capabilities is System V Release
4’s. Actual BSD curses versions will have a more restricted set. To
see only the 4.4BSD set, use -r -RBSD.


The -F option of infocmp should be a toe mode.


captoinfo, infotocap, tic, toe, ncurses(3NCURSES), ter‐

This describes ncurses version 6.0 (patch 20160213).


Eric S. Raymond and
Thomas E. Dickey


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