termcap - terminal capability database


The termcap database is an obsolete facility for describing the capabilities of character-cell terminals and printers. It is retained only for capability with old programs; new ones should use the terminfo(5) database and associated libraries.

/etc/termcap is an ASCII file (the database master) that lists the capabilities of many different types of terminals. Programs can read termcap to find the particular escape codes needed to control the visual attributes of the terminal actually in use. (Other aspects of the terminal are handled by stty(1).) The termcap database is indexed on the TERM environment variable.

Termcap entries must be defined on a single logical line, with `\' used to suppress the newline. Fields are separated by `:'. The first field of each entry starts at the left-hand margin, and contains a list of names for the terminal, separated by '|'.

The first subfield may (in BSD termcap entries from versions 4.3 and prior) contain a short name consisting of two characters. This short name may consist of capital or small letters. In 4.4BSD termcap entries this field is omitted.

The second subfield (first, in the newer 4.4BSD format) contains the name used by the environment variable TERM. It should be spelled in lowercase letters. Selectable hardware capabilities should be marked by appending a hyphen and a suffix to this name. See below for an example. Usual suffixes are w (more than 80 characters wide), am (automatic margins), nam (no automatic margins), and rv (reverse video display). The third subfield contains a long and descriptive name for this termcap entry.

Subsequent fields contain the terminal capabilities; any continued capability lines must be indented one tab from the left margin.

Although there is no defined order, it is suggested to write first boolean, then numeric, and then string capabilities, each sorted alphabetically without looking at lower or upper spelling. Capabilities of similar functions can be written in one line.

Example for:
Head line: vt|vt101|DEC VT 101 terminal in 80 character mode:\
Head line: Vt|vt101-w|DEC VT 101 terminal in (wide) 132 character mode:\
Boolean: :bs:\
Numeric: :co#80:\
String: :sr=\E[H:\

Boolean Capabilities

5i      Printer will not echo on screen
am      Automatic margins which means automatic line wrap
bs      Control-H (8 dec.) performs a backspace
bw      Backspace on left margin wraps to previous line and right margin
da      Display retained above screen
db      Display retained below screen
eo      A space erases all characters at cursor position
es      Escape sequences and special characters work in status line
gn      Generic device
hc      This is a hardcopy terminal
HC      The cursor is hard to see when not on bottom line
hs      Has a status line
hz      Hazeltine bug, the terminal can not print tilde characters
in      Terminal inserts null bytes, not spaces, to fill whitespace
km      Terminal has a meta key
mi      Cursor movement works in insert mode
ms      Cursor movement works in standout/underline mode
NP      No pad character
NR      ti does not reverse te
nx      No padding, must use XON/XOFF
os      Terminal can overstrike
ul      Terminal underlines although it can not overstrike
xb      Beehive glitch, f1 sends ESCAPE, f2 sends ^C
xn      Newline/wraparound glitch
xo      Terminal uses xon/xoff protocol
xs      Text typed over standout text will be displayed in standout
xt      Teleray glitch, destructive tabs and odd standout mode

Numeric Capabilities

co      Number of columns
dB      Delay in milliseconds for backspace on hardcopy terminals
dC      Delay in milliseconds for carriage return on hardcopy terminals
dF      Delay in milliseconds for form feed on hardcopy terminals
dN      Delay in milliseconds for new line on hardcopy terminals
dT      Delay in milliseconds for tabulator stop on hardcopy terminals
dV      Delay in milliseconds for vertical tabulator stop on hardcopy terminals
it      Difference between tab positions
lh      Height of soft labels
lm      Lines of memory
lw      Width of soft labels
li      Number of lines
Nl      Number of soft labels
pb      Lowest baud rate which needs padding
sg      Standout glitch
ug      Underline glitch
vt      virtual terminal number
ws      Width of status line if different from screen width

String Capabilities

!1      shifted save key
!2      shifted suspend key
!3      shifted undo key
#1      shifted help key
#2      shifted home key
#3      shifted input key
#4      shifted cursor left key
%0      redo key
%1      help key
%2      mark key
%3      message key
%4      move key
%5      next-object key
%6      open key
%7      options key
%8      previous-object key
%9      print key
%a      shifted message key
%b      shifted move key
%c      shifted next key
%d      shifted options key
%e      shifted previous key
%f      shifted print key
%g      shifted redo key
%h      shifted replace key
%i      shifted cursor right key
%j      shifted resume key
&0      shifted cancel key
&1      reference key
&2      refresh key
&3      replace key
&4      restart key
&5      resume key
&6      save key
&7      suspend key
&8      undo key
&9      shifted begin key
*0      shifted find key
*1      shifted command key
*2      shifted copy key
*3      shifted create key
*4      shifted delete character
*5      shifted delete line
*6      select key
*7      shifted end key
*8      shifted clear line key
*9      shifted exit key
@0      find key
@1      begin key
@2      cancel key
@3      close key
@4      command key
@5      copy key
@6      create key
@7      end key
@8      enter/send key
@9      exit key
al      Insert one line
AL      Insert %1 lines
ac      Pairs of block graphic characters to map alternate character set
ae      End alternative character set
as      Start alternative character set for block graphic characters
bc      Backspace, if not ^H
bl      Audio bell
bt      Move to previous tab stop
cb      Clear from beginning of line to cursor
cc      Dummy command character
cd      Clear to end of screen
ce      Clear to end of line
ch      Move cursor horizontally only to column %1
cl      Clear screen and cursor home
cm      Cursor move to row %1 and column %2 (on screen)
CM      Move cursor to row %1 and column %2 (in memory)
cr      Carriage return
cs      Scroll region from line %1 to %2
ct      Clear tabs
cv      Move cursor vertically only to line %1
dc      Delete one character
DC      Delete %1 characters
dl      Delete one line
DL      Delete %1 lines
dm      Begin delete mode
do      Cursor down one line
DO      Cursor down #1 lines
ds      Disable status line
eA      Enable alternate character set
ec      Erase %1 characters starting at cursor
ed      End delete mode
ei      End insert mode
ff      Formfeed character on hardcopy terminals
fs      Return character to its position before going to status line
F1      The string sent by function key f11
F2      The string sent by function key f12
F3      The string sent by function key f13
...     ...
F9      The string sent by function key f19
FA      The string sent by function key f20
FB      The string sent by function key f21
...     ...
FZ      The string sent by function key f45
Fa      The string sent by function key f46
Fb      The string sent by function key f47
...     ...
Fr      The string sent by function key f63
hd      Move cursor a half line down
ho      Cursor home
hu      Move cursor a half line up
i1      Initialization string 1 at login
i3      Initialization string 3 at login
is      Initialization string 2 at login
ic      Insert one character
IC      Insert %1 characters
if      Initialization file
im      Begin insert mode
ip      Insert pad time and needed special characters after insert
iP      Initialization program
K1      upper left key on keypad
K2      center key on keypad
K3      upper right key on keypad
K4      bottom left key on keypad
K5      bottom right key on keypad
k0      Function key 0
k1      Function key 1
k2      Function key 2
k3      Function key 3
k4      Function key 4
k5      Function key 5
k6      Function key 6
k7      Function key 7
k8      Function key 8
k9      Function key 9
k;      Function key 10
ka      Clear all tabs key
kA      Insert line key
kb      Backspace key
kB      Back tab stop
kC      Clear screen key
kd      Cursor down key
kD      Key for delete character under cursor
ke      turn keypad off
kE      Key for clear to end of line
kF      Key for scrolling forward/down
kh      Cursor home key
kH      Cursor hown down key
kI      Insert character/Insert mode key
kl      Cursor left key
kL      Key for delete line
kM      Key for exit insert mode
kN      Key for next page
kP      Key for previous page
kr      Cursor right key
kR      Key for scrolling backward/up
ks      Turn keypad on
kS      Clear to end of screen key
kt      Clear this tab key
kT      Set tab here key
ku      Cursor up key
l0      Label of zeroth function key, if not f0
l1      Label of first function key, if not f1
l2      Label of first function key, if not f2
...     ...
la      Label of tenth function key, if not f10
le      Cursor left one character
ll      Move cursor to lower left corner
LE      Cursor left %1 characters
LF      Turn soft labels off
LO      Turn soft labels on
mb      Start blinking
MC      Clear soft margins
md      Start bold mode
me      End all mode like so, us, mb, md and mr
mh      Start half bright mode
mk      Dark mode (Characters invisible)
ML      Set left soft margin
mm      Put terminal in meta mode
mo      Put terminal out of meta mode
mp      Turn on protected attribute
mr      Start reverse mode
MR      Set right soft margin
nd      Cursor right one character
nw      Carriage return command
pc      Padding character
pf      Turn printer off
pk      Program key %1 to send string %2 as if typed by user
pl      Program key %1 to execute string %2 in local mode
pn      Program soft label %1 to show string %2
po      Turn the printer on
pO      Turn the printer on for %1 (<256) bytes
ps      Print screen contents on printer
px      Program key %1 to send string %2 to computer
r1      Reset string 1 to set terminal to sane modes
r2      Reset string 2 to set terminal to sane modes
r3      Reset string 3 to set terminal to sane modes
RA      disable automatic margins
rc      Restore saved cursor position
rf      Reset string filename
RF      Request for input from terminal
RI      Cursor right %1 characters
rp      Repeat character %1 for %2 times
rP      Padding after character sent in replace mode
rs      Reset string
RX      Turn off XON/XOFF flow control
sa      Set %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9 attributes
SA      enable automatic margins
sc      Save cursor position
se      End standout mode
sf      Normal scroll one line
SF      Normal scroll %1 lines
so      Start standout mode
sr      Reverse scroll
SR      scroll back %1 lines
st      Set tabulator stop in all rows at current column
SX      Turn on XON/XOFF flow control
ta      move to next hardware tab
tc      Read in terminal description from another entry
te      End program that uses cursor motion
ti      Begin program that uses cursor motion
ts      Move cursor to column %1 of status line
uc      Underline character under cursor and move cursor right
ue      End underlining
up      Cursor up one line
UP      Cursor up %1 lines
us      Start underlining
vb      Visible bell
ve      Normal cursor visible
vi      Cursor invisible
vs      Standout cursor
wi      Set window from line %1 to %2 and column %3 to %4
XF      XOFF character if not ^S

There are several ways of defining the control codes for string capabilities:

Every normal character represents itself, except '^','\' and '%'.

A '^x' means Control-x. Control-A equals 1 decimal.

\x means a special code. x can be one of the following characters:

E Escape (27)
n Linefeed (10)
r Carriage return (13)
t Tabulation (9)
b Backspace (8)
f Form feed (12)
0 Null character. A \xxx specifies the octal character xxx.
Increments parameters by one.
Single parameter capability
Add value of next character to this parameter and do binary output
Do ASCII output of this parameter with a field with of 2
Do ASCII output of this parameter with a field with of 3
Print a '%'

If you use binary output, then you should avoid the null character because it terminates the string. You should reset tabulator expansion if a tabulator can be the binary output of a parameter.

The above metacharacters for parameters may be wrong, they document Minix termcap which may not be compatible with Linux termcap.

The block graphic characters can be specified by three string capabilities:

start the alternative charset
end it
pairs of characters. The first character is the name of the block graphic symbol and the second characters is its definition.

The following names are available:

+       right arrow (>)
,       left arrow (<)
.       down arrow (v)
0       full square (#)
I       lantern (#)
-       upper arrow (^)
'       rhombus (+)
a       chess board (:)
f       degree (')
g       plus-minus (#)
h       square (#)
j       right bottom corner (+)
k       right upper corner (+)
l       left upper corner (+)
m       left bottom corner (+)
n       cross (+)
o       upper horizontal line (-)
q       middle horizontal line (-)
s       bottom horizontal line (_)
t       left tee (+)
u       right tee (+)
v       bottom tee (+)
w       normal tee (+)
x       vertical line (|)
~       paragraph (???)

The values in parentheses are suggested defaults which are used by curses, if the capabilities are missing.


ncurses(3), termcap(3), terminfo(5)