compare or print out terminfo descriptions 

Curses Command


infocmp [-dcnpILCuV1Te] [-v n] [-s d| i| l| c] [-w width] [-Rsubset] [-A directory] [-B directory] [termname...]


infocmp can be used to compare a binary terminfo entry with other terminfo 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

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 capability: 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 similar terminals.

The -c option produces a list of each capability that is common between two 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 using.

The -n option produces a list of each capability that is in neither entry. 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

The -I, -L, -C, -r options will produce a source listing for each terminal named.

-I      use the terminfo names
-L      use the long C variable name listed in <term.h>
-C      use the termcap names
-r      when using -C, put out all capabilities
       in termcap form

If no termname 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.

All padding information for strings will be collected together and placed at the beginning of the string where termcap expects it. Mandatory padding (padding information with a trailing '/') will become optional.

All termcap variables no longer supported by terminfo, but which are derivable from other terminfo variables, will be output. Not all terminfo 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.

Note that because padding is collected to the beginning of the capability, not all capabilities are output. Mandatory padding is not supported. 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 source.

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

The -u option produces a terminfo source description of the first terminal termname which is relative to the sum of the descriptions given by the entries for the other terminals termnames. It does this by analyzing 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 terminfo compiler tic does a left-to-right scan of the capabilities, specifying 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 description.

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.

Other Options


sorts the fields within each type according to the argument below:

d    leave fields in the order that they are stored in the terminfo 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.


compares 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.


ignores padding specifications when comparing strings.

-v n 

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


prints out the version of the program in use on standard error and exits.


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 characters.


eliminates size-restrictions on the generated text. This is mainly useful for testing and analysis, since the compiled descriptions are limited (for example, 1023 for termcap, 4096 for terminfo).

-w width 

changes the output to width characters.


restricts output to a given subset. This option is for use with archaic versions of terminfo like those on SVr1, Ultrix, or HP/UX that don't support the full set of SVR4/XSI Curses terminfo; and outright broken ports like AIX that have their own extensions incompatible with SVr4/XSI. Available terminfo subsets are "SVr1", "Ultrix", "HP", and "AIX"; see terminfo for details. You can also choose the subset "BSD" which selects only capabilities with termcap equivalents recognized by 4.4BSD.


dumps the capabilities of the given terminal as a C initializer for a TERMTYPE structure (the terminal capability structure in the <term.h>). This option is useful for preparing versions of the curses library hardwired for a given terminal type.

Changing Databases

The location of the compiled terminfo database is taken from the environment variable TERMINFO . If the variable is not defined, or the terminal is not found in that location, the system terminfo database, in $ROOTDIR/usr/lib/terminfo, will be used. The options -A and -B may be used to override this location. The -A option will set TERMINFO for the first termname and the -B option will set TERMINFO for the other termnames. With this, it is possible to compare descriptions for a terminal with the same name located in two different databases. This is useful for comparing descriptions for the same terminal created by different people.


analyzes the initialization (is1, is2, is3), and reset (rs1, rs2, rs3), strings in the entry. 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

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

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 {SGR:NORMAL}).



Compiled terminal description database.


The -F option is not supported in SVr4 curses. (It is primarily intended to help infocmp's author, while wearing his terminfo/termcap maintainer hat, merge termcap/terminfo files from various sources into the master.)

The -R, -p, -e, -T and -i 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.


Eric S. Raymond <>


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