XBIFF(1) General Commands Manual XBIFF(1)
xbiff – mailbox flag for X
xbiff [ -toolkitoption … ] [ -option … ]
The xbiff program displays a little image of a mailbox. When there is
no mail, the flag on the mailbox is down. When mail arrives, the flag
goes up and the mailbox beeps. By default, pressing any mouse button
in the image forces xbiff to remember the current size of the mail file
as being the “empty” size and to lower the flag.
Xbiff accepts all of the standard X Toolkit command line options along
with the additional options listed below:
-help This option indicates that a brief summary of the allowed
options should be printed on the standard error.
This option specifies the frequency in seconds at which xbiff
should update its display. If the mailbox is obscured and then
exposed, it will be updated immediately. The default is 30
This option specifies the name of the file which should be mon‐
itored. By default it watches your inbox in the default loca‐
tion for your system (some examples are /var/mail/username,
/usr/spool/mail/username, /var/spool/mail/username (where user‐
name is your login name). If the MAIL environment variable is
set, the file specified by it will be monitored.
This option specifies how loud the bell should be rung when new
mail comes in.
-shape This option indicates that the mailbox window should be shaped
if masks for the empty or full images are given.
The following standard X Toolkit command line arguments are commonly
used with xbiff:
This option specifies the X server to contact.
This option specifies the preferred size and position of the
mailbox window. The mailbox is 48 pixels wide and 48 pixels
high and will be centered in the window.
This option specifies the color to use for the background of
This option specifies the color to use for the border of the
This option specifies the width in pixels of the border sur‐
rounding the window.
This option specifies the color to use for the foreground of
-rv This option indicates that reverse video should be simulated by
swapping the foreground and background colors.
This option specifies a resource string to be used. This is
especially useful for setting resources that do not have sepa‐
rate command line options.
The application class name is XBiff. This program uses the Mailbox
widget. It understands all of the core resource names and classes as
checkCommand (class CheckCommand)
Specifies a shell command to be executed to check for new mail
rather than examining the size of file. The specified string
value is used as the argument to a system(3) call and may
therefore contain i/o redirection. An exit status of 0 indi‐
cates that new mail is waiting, 1 indicates that there has been
no change in size, and 2 indicates that the mail has been
cleared. By default, no shell command is provided.
file (class File)
Specifies the name of the file to monitor. The default is as
described above for the -file command line option.
onceOnly (class Boolean)
Specifies that the bell is only rung the first time new mail is
found and is not rung again until at least one interval has
passed with no mail waiting. The window will continue to indi‐
cate the presence of new mail until it has been retrieved. The
default is false.
width (class Width)
Specifies the width of the mailbox.
height (class Height)
Specifies the height of the mailbox.
update (class Interval)
Specifies the frequency in seconds at which the mail should be
checked. The default is 30.
volume (class Volume)
Specifies how loud the bell should be rung. The default is 33
foreground (class Foreground)
Specifies the color for the foreground.
reverseVideo (class ReverseVideo)
Specifies that the foreground and background should be
flip (class Flip)
Specifies whether or not the image that is shown when mail has
arrived should be inverted. The default is “true.”
fullPixmap (class Pixmap)
Specifies a bitmap to be shown when new mail has arrived. The
default is flagup.
emptyPixmap (class Pixmap)
Specifies a bitmap to be shown when no new mail is present.
The default is flagdown.
shapeWindow (class ShapeWindow)
Specifies whether or not the mailbox window should be shaped to
the given fullPixmapMask and emptyPixmapMask. The default is
fullPixmapMask (class PixmapMask)
Specifies a mask for the bitmap to be shown when new mail has
arrived. The default is none.
emptyPixmapMask (class PixmapMask)
Specifies a mask for the bitmap to be shown when no new mail is
present. The default is none.
The Mailbox widget provides the following actions for use in event
check() This action causes the widget to check for new mail and display
the flag appropriately.
unset() This action causes the widget to lower the flag until new mail
set() This action causes the widget to raise the flag until the user
The default translation is
DISPLAY to get the default host and display number.
to get the name of a resource file that overrides the global
resources stored in the RESOURCE_MANAGER property.
The mailbox bitmaps are ugly.
Jim Fulton, MIT X Consortium
Additional hacks by Ralph Swick, DEC/MIT Project Athena
X Version 11 xbiff 1.0.3 XBIFF(1)