Section: Misc. Reference Manual Pages (1M)
- the terminfo
command translates a terminfo
file from source
format into compiled format.
The compiled format is necessary for use with
the library routines in ncurses
As described in term(5), the database may be either a directory
tree (one file per terminal entry) or a hashed database (one record per entry).
The tic command writes only one type of entry,
depending on how it was built:
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For directory trees, the top-level directory, e.g., /usr/share/terminfo,
specifies the location of the database.
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For hashed databases, a filename is needed.
If the given file is not found by that name,
but can be found by adding the suffix ".db",
then that is used.
The default name for the hashed database is the same as the
default directory name (only adding a ".db" suffix).
In either case (directory or hashed database),
tic will create the container if it does not exist.
For a directory, this would be the "terminfo" leaf,
versus a "terminfo.db" file.
The results are normally placed in the system terminfo database /usr/share/terminfo.
The compiled terminal description can be placed
in a different terminfo database.
There are two ways to achieve this:
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First, you may override the system default either by
using the -o option,
or by setting the variable TERMINFO
in your shell environment to a valid database location.
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Secondly, if tic cannot write in /usr/share/terminfo
or the location specified using your TERMINFO variable,
it looks for the directory $HOME/.terminfo
(or hashed database $HOME/.terminfo.db);
if that location exists, the entry is placed there.
Libraries that read terminfo entries are expected to check in succession
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a location specified with the TERMINFO environment variable,
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directories listed in the TERMINFO_DIRS environment variable,
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a compiled-in list of directories (no default value), and
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the system terminfo database (/usr/share/terminfo).
This is the same program as infotocap and captoinfo;
usually those are linked to, or copied from this program:
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When invoked as infotocap, tic sets the -I option.
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When invoked as captoinfo, tic sets the -C option.
restricts the output to a single line
restricts the output to a single column
tells tic to retain commented-out capabilities rather than discarding
Capabilities are commented by prefixing them with a period.
This sets the -x option, because it treats the commented-out
entries as user-defined names.
If the source is termcap, accept the 2-character names required by version 6.
Otherwise these are ignored.
Force source translation to termcap format.
Note: this differs from the -C
option of infocmp(1M) in that it does not merely translate capability
names, but also translates terminfo strings to termcap format.
that are not translatable are left in the entry under their terminfo names
but commented out with two preceding dots.
The actual format used incorporates some improvements for escaped characters
from terminfo format.
For a stricter BSD-compatible translation, add the -K option.
If this is combined with -c, tic makes additional checks
to report cases where the terminfo values do not have an exact equivalent
in termcap form.
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sgr usually will not convert, because termcap lacks the ability to
work with more than two parameters, and because termcap lacks many of
the arithmetic/logical operators used in terminfo.
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capabilities with more than one delay or with delays before the end of
the string will not convert completely.
tells tic to only check file for errors,
including syntax problems and bad use-links.
If you specify -C (-I) with this option, the code
will print warnings about entries which, after use resolution, are more than
1023 (4096) bytes long.
Due to a fixed buffer length in older termcap libraries,
as well as buggy checking for the buffer length
(and a documented limit in terminfo),
these entries may cause core
dumps with other implementations.
tic checks string capabilities to ensure that those with parameters
will be valid expressions.
It does this check only for the predefined string capabilities;
those which are defined with the -x option are ignored.
tells tic to print the database locations that it knows about, and exit.
The first location shown is the one to which it would write compiled
If tic is not able to find a writable database location
according to the rules summarized above,
it will print a diagnostic and exit with an error rather than
printing a list of database locations.
- -e names
Limit writes and translations to the following comma-separated list of
If any name or alias of a terminal matches one of the names in
the list, the entry will be written or translated as normal.
Otherwise no output will be generated for it.
The option value is interpreted as a file containing the list if it
contains a '/'.
(Note: depending on how tic was compiled,
this option may require -I or -C.)
Display complex terminfo strings which contain if/then/else/endif expressions
indented for readability.
Display constant literals in decimal form
rather than their character equivalents.
Display constant character literals in quoted form
rather than their decimal equivalents.
Force source translation to terminfo format.
Suppress some longstanding ncurses extensions to termcap format,
e.g., "\s" for space.
Force source translation to terminfo format
using the long C variable names listed in <term.h>
Disable smart defaults.
Normally, when translating from termcap to terminfo, the compiler makes
a number of assumptions about the defaults of string capabilities
reset1_string, carriage_return, cursor_left,
cursor_down, scroll_forward, tab, newline,
key_backspace, key_left, and key_down, then attempts
to use obsolete termcap capabilities to deduce correct values.
normally suppresses output of obsolete termcap capabilities such as bs.
This option forces a more literal translation that also preserves the
Write compiled entries to given database location.
Overrides the TERMINFO environment variable.
Rather than show source in terminfo (text) format,
print the compiled (binary) format in hexadecimal or base64 form,
depending on the option's value:
hexadecimal and base64
Suppress comments and blank lines when showing translated source.
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 outright broken ports like AIX 3.x
that have their own extensions incompatible with SVr4/XSI.
are "SVr1", "Ultrix", "HP", "BSD" and "AIX";
see terminfo(5) for details.
Force entry resolution (so there are no remaining tc capabilities) even
when doing translation to termcap format.
This may be needed if you are
preparing a termcap file for a termcap library (such as GNU termcap through
version 1.3 or BSD termcap through 4.3BSD) that does not handle multiple
tc capabilities per entry.
Summarize the compile by showing the database location into which entries
are written, and the number of entries which are compiled.
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 terminfo).
tells tic to discard commented-out capabilities.
Normally when translating from terminfo to termcap,
untranslatable capabilities are commented-out.
tells tic to not post-process the data after parsing the source file.
Normally, it infers data which is commonly missing in older terminfo data,
or in termcaps.
reports the version of ncurses which was used in this program, and exits.
specifies that (verbose) output be written to standard error trace
information showing tic's progress.
The optional parameter n is a number from 1 to 10, inclusive,
indicating the desired level of detail of information.
If ncurses is built without tracing support, the optional parameter is ignored.
If n is omitted, the default level is 1.
If n is specified and greater than 1, the level of
detail is increased.
The debug flag levels are as follows:
Names of files created and linked
Information related to the ``use'' facility
Statistics from the hashing algorithm
String-table memory allocations
Entries into the string-table
List of tokens encountered by scanner
All values computed in construction of the hash table
If the debug level n is not given, it is taken to be one.
By itself, the -w option will not force long strings to be wrapped.
Use the -W option to do this.
If you specify both -f and -W options,
the latter is ignored when -f has already split the line.
specifies the width of the output.
The parameter is optional.
If it is omitted, it defaults to 60.
Treat unknown capabilities as user-defined (see user_caps(5)).
That is, if you supply a capability name which tic does not recognize,
it will infer its type (boolean, number or string) from the syntax and
make an extended table entry for that.
User-defined capability strings
whose name begins with ``k'' are treated as function keys.
contains one or more terminfo terminal descriptions in source
format [see terminfo(5)].
Each description in the file
describes the capabilities of a particular terminal.
If file is ``-'', then the data is read from the standard input.
The file parameter may also be the path of a character-device.
All but one of the capabilities recognized by tic are documented
The exception is the use capability.
When a use=entry-name field is discovered in a
terminal entry currently being compiled, tic reads in the binary
from /usr/share/terminfo to complete the entry.
(Entries created from
file will be used first.
tic duplicates the capabilities in
entry-name for the current entry, with the exception of
those capabilities that explicitly are defined in the current entry.
When an entry, e.g., entry_name_1, contains a
use=entry_name_2 field, any canceled
capabilities in entry_name_2 must also appear in
entry_name_1 before use= for these capabilities to be
canceled in entry_name_1.
Total compiled entries cannot exceed 4096 bytes.
The name field cannot
exceed 512 bytes.
Terminal names exceeding the maximum alias length
(32 characters on systems with long filenames, 14 characters otherwise)
will be truncated to the maximum alias length
and a warning message will be printed.
System V Release 2 provided a tic utility.
It accepted a single option: -v (optionally followed by a number).
According to Ross Ridge's comment in mytinfo,
this version of tic was
unable to represent cancelled capabilities.
System V Release 3 provided a different tic utility,
written by Pavel Curtis,
(originally named ``compile'' in pcurses).
This added an option -c to check the file for
errors, with the caveat that errors in ``use='' links
would not be reported.
System V Release 3 documented a few warning messages which
did not appear in pcurses.
While the program itself was changed little as development
continued with System V Release 4,
the table of capabilities grew from 180 (pcurses) to 464 (Solaris).
In early development of ncurses (1993),
Zeyd Ben-Halim used the table from mytinfo to
extend the pcurses table to 469 capabilities
(456 matched SVr4, 8 were only in SVr4, 13 were not in SVr4).
Of those 13, 11 were ultimately discarded
(perhaps to match the draft of X/Open Curses).
The exceptions were
memory_unlock (see user_caps(5)).
Eric Raymond incorporated parts of mytinfo into ncurses
to implement the termcap-to-terminfo source conversion,
and extended that to begin development of
the corresponding terminfo-to-termcap source conversion,
Thomas Dickey completed that development over the course of several years.
In 1999, Thomas Dickey added the -x option
to support user-defined capabilities.
In 2010, Roy Marples provided a tic program
and terminfo library for NetBSD.
That implementation adapts several features from ncurses,
including tic's -x option.
The -c option tells tic to check for problems in the
terminfo source file.
Continued development provides additional checks:
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pcurses had 8 warnings
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ncurses in 1996 had 16 warnings
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Solaris (SVr4) curses has 28 warnings
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NetBSD tic in 2019 has 19 warnings.
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ncurses in 2019 has 96 warnings
The checking done in ncurses' tic helps with the conversion to
termcap, as well as pointing out errors and inconsistencies.
It is also used to ensure consistency with the user-defined capabilities.
There are 527 distinct capabilities in ncurses' terminal database;
128 of those are user-defined.
X/Open Curses, Issue 7 (2009) provides a brief description of tic.
It lists one option: -c.
The omission of -v is unexpected.
The change history states that the description is derived from True64 UNIX.
According to its manual pages, that system also supported the -v option.
Shortly after Issue 7 was released, Tru64 was discontinued.
As of 2019, the surviving implementations of tic
are SVr4 (AIX, HP-UX and Solaris),
and NetBSD curses.
The SVr4 tic programs all support the -v option.
The NetBSD tic program follows X/Open's documentation,
omitting the -v option.
The X/Open rationale states that some implementations of tic
read terminal descriptions from the standard input if the file
parameter is omitted.
None of these implementations do that.
Further, it comments that some may choose to read from ''./terminfo.src''
but that is obsolescent behavior from SVr2,
and is not (for example) a documented feature of SVr3.
There is some evidence that historic tic
description fields with no whitespace in them as additional aliases or
does not do that, but it does warn when
description fields may be treated that way and check them for dangerous
Unlike the SVr4 tic
command, this implementation can actually
compile termcap sources.
In fact, entries in terminfo and termcap syntax can
be mixed in a single source file.
(5) for the list of
termcap names taken to be equivalent to terminfo names.
The SVr4 manual pages are not clear on the resolution rules for use
This implementation of tic will find use targets anywhere
in the source file, or anywhere in the file tree rooted at TERMINFO (if
TERMINFO is defined),
or in the user's $HOME/.terminfo database
(if it exists),
or (finally) anywhere in the system's file tree of
The error messages from this tic have the same format as GNU C
error messages, and can be parsed by GNU Emacs's compile facility.
Aside from -c and -v, options are not portable:
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Most of tic's options
are not supported by SVr4 tic:
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The NetBSD tic
supports a few of the ncurses options
and adds -S
(a feature which does the same thing
as infocmp's -e and -E options).
The SVr4 -c mode does not report bad ``use='' links.
System V does not compile entries to or read entries from your
$HOME/.terminfo database unless TERMINFO is explicitly set to it.
Compiled terminal description database.
This describes ncurses
version 6.1 (patch 20191109).
Eric S. Raymond <firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas E. Dickey <email@example.com