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xtermcontrol 3.3
December 13, 2015


dynamic configuration of xterm properties


xtermcontrol - dynamic control of XFree86 xterm properties.


xtermcontrol [OPTIONS]...


xtermcontrol makes it easy to change colors, title, font and geometry of a running XFree86 xterm(1), as well as to report the current settings of the aforementioned properties.
Window manipulations de-/iconify, raise/lower, maximize/restore and reset are also supported.
To complete the feature set; xtermcontrol lets advanced users issue any xterm control sequence of their choosing.


--fg=COLOR Set foreground color (see also COLOR NAMES).
--bg=COLOR Set background color.
--colorN=COLOR Set N’th [0-15] color.
--highlight=COLOR Set highlight color.
--cursor=COLOR Set cursor color.
--mouse-fg=COLOR Set mouse pointer foreground color.
--mouse-bg=COLOR Set mouse pointer background color.
--font=FONT Set font name (see also FONT NAMES). Alternatively it is possible to specify a fontmenu index as '#[0-6]' or navigate the fontmenu by relative sizes as '#+N' or '#-N', where N is an optional integer.
--title=STRING Set window title. Note that mechanisms like the bash(1) PROMPT_COMMAND may overwrite the title.
--geometry=WIDTHxHEIGHT+XOFF+YOFF Set size and/or position. Through its control sequences the xterm only recognize positive XOFF and YOFF offsets, which are pixels relative to the upper left hand corner of the display. xtermcontrol is therefore unable to handle negative offsets as described in the X(7x) GEOMETRY SPECIFICATIONS and therefore truncates negative values to zero.
--get-fg Report foreground color.
--get-bg Report background color.
--get-colorN Report N’th [0-15] color.
--get-highlight Report highlight color.
--get-cursor Report cursor color.
--get-mouse-fg Report mouse pointer foreground color.
--get-mouse-bg Report mouse pointer background color.
--get-font Report font.
--get-title Report window title.
--get-geometry Report size and position. The size of the text area is reported in characters and the position is reported in pixels relative to the upper left hand corner of the display.
--maximize Maximize window.
--restore Restore maximized window.
--iconify Iconify window.
--de-iconify De-iconify window.
--raise Raise window.
--lower Lower window.
--reset Full reset.
--raw=CTLSEQS Issue raw control sequence (see also XTERM CONTROL SEQUENCES).
--file=FILE Source a configuration FILE (see also CONFIGURATION).
--force, -f Skip TERM environment variable check.
--verbose, -v Print verbose reports.
--help, -h Print help message and exit.
--version Print the version number and exit.


The default configuration file ~/.xtermcontrol is sourced if xtermcontrol is run without options or if specifically requested, e.g. ’xtermcontrol --file=~/.xtermcontrol’.
Each line in a configuration file is either a comment or contains an attribute. Attributes consist of a keyword and an associated value:

keyword = value # comment
The valid keyword/value combinations are:

foreground="COLOR" background="COLOR" highlight="COLOR" cursor="COLOR" mouse-foreground="COLOR" mouse-background="COLOR" geometry="WIDTHxHEIGHT+XOFF+YOFF" font="FONT" color0="COLOR" color1="COLOR" color2="COLOR" color3="COLOR" color4="COLOR" color5="COLOR" color6="COLOR" color7="COLOR" color8="COLOR" color9="COLOR" color10="COLOR" color11="COLOR" color12="COLOR" color13="COLOR" color14="COLOR" color15="COLOR"
Whitespace is ignored in attributes unless within a quoted value. The character '#' is taken to begin a comment. Each '#' and all remaining characters on that line is ignored.


xtermcontrol accepts any X(7x) FONT NAMES. Font names like '-adobe-courier-medium-r-normal--10-100-75-75-m-60-iso8859-1' are very cumbersome to write, so it is convenient to make use of aliases, e.g. 'fixed' or '8x13', if present in fonts.alias files of the font directories.


xtermcontrol accepts any X(7x) COLOR NAMES. Basically this means that colors are specified by name or rgb value, e.g. 'blue', 'rgb:0000/0000/FFFF' or '#00F'. Colors are typically reported by the xterm in a device-dependent numerical form, e.g. 'rgb:0000/0000/FFFF'. Note that old syntax rgb values should always be quoted to avoid '#' being interpreted as the beginning of a comment by the shell (see also FILES).


The secret behind xtermcontrol is xterm control sequences. All the possible (there are a plethora of them) control sequences are documented in ctlseqs.txt, found in the xterm(1) distribution (see also FILES).


The OS X emulates an extended set of the VTxxx series commands, closely resembling dtterm. Therefore the following subset of xtermcontrol options works as expected:

--title --geometry --get-geometry --maximize --restore --iconify --de-iconify --raise --lower --reset


If read/write permissions on the tty’s are changed so that special group membership is required to be able to write to the pseudo terminal, the easiest workaround is to install xtermcontrol setuid root.
Xterm(1) has three resources, allowWindowOps, allowTitleOps, and allowFontOps, that enables or disables special operations which xtermcontrol relies on. If any of these resources are set (or defaults) to ’false’ xtermcontrol may hang. The resources corresponds to xtermcontrol options as:

allowWindowOps: --raise --lower --restore --maximize --iconify --de-iconify --get-title --geometry --get-geometry
allowTitleOps: --title
allowFontOps: --font --get-font
All three resources can usually be enabled for the current xterm session via a menu; ctrl+rightclick and look for menu item names like ’Allow Window Ops’. To set these resource values persistently you can add the following to either your local ~/.Xdefaults file, or to a system-wide resource file like /etc/X11/app-defaults/XTerm:

*VT100.allowWindowOps: true *VT100.allowTitleOps: true *VT100.allowFontOps: true


<XRoot>/X11/rgb.txt Default rgb color name file location.
ctlseqs.txt Xterm control sequences documentation. Distributed with xterm from


xterm(1), X(7x)


Copyright © 2002-2015 Jess Thrysoee <>
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