tput(1) — Linux manual page


@TPUT@(1)                General Commands Manual               @TPUT@(1)

NAME         top

       @TPUT@, reset - initialize a terminal or query terminfo database

SYNOPSIS         top

       @TPUT@ [-Ttype] capname [parameters]
       @TPUT@ [-Ttype] [-x] clear
       @TPUT@ [-Ttype] init
       @TPUT@ [-Ttype] reset
       @TPUT@ [-Ttype] longname
       @TPUT@ -S  <<
       @TPUT@ -V

DESCRIPTION         top

       The @TPUT@ utility uses the terminfo database to make the values
       of terminal-dependent capabilities and information available to
       the shell (see sh(1)), to initialize or reset the terminal, or
       return the long name of the requested terminal type.  The result
       depends upon the capability's type:

               @TPUT@ writes the string to the standard output.  No
               trailing newline is supplied.

               @TPUT@ writes the decimal value to the standard output,
               with a trailing newline.

               @TPUT@ simply sets the exit code (0 for TRUE if the
               terminal has the capability, 1 for FALSE if it does not),
               and writes nothing to the standard output.

       Before using a value returned on the standard output, the
       application should test the exit code (e.g., $?, see sh(1)) to be
       sure it is 0.  (See the EXIT CODES and DIAGNOSTICS sections.)
       For a complete list of capabilities and the capname associated
       with each, see terminfo(5).

       -S     allows more than one capability per invocation of @TPUT@.
              The capabilities must be passed to @TPUT@ from the
              standard input instead of from the command line (see
              example).  Only one capname is allowed per line.  The -S
              option changes the meaning of the 0 and 1 boolean and
              string exit codes (see the EXIT CODES section).

              Because some capabilities may use string parameters rather
              than numbers, @TPUT@ uses a table and the presence of
              parameters in its input to decide whether to use
              tparm(3X), and how to interpret the parameters.

       -Ttype indicates the type of terminal.  Normally this option is
              unnecessary, because the default is taken from the
              environment variable TERM.  If -T is specified, then the
              shell variables LINES and COLUMNS will also be ignored.

       -V     reports the version of ncurses which was used in this
              program, and exits.

       -x     do not attempt to clear the terminal's scrollback buffer
              using the extended “E3” capability.

       A few commands (init, reset and longname) are special; they are
       defined by the @TPUT@ program.  The others are the names of
       capabilities from the terminal database (see terminfo(5) for a
       list).  Although init and reset resemble capability names, @TPUT@
       uses several capabilities to perform these special functions.

              indicates the capability from the terminal database.

              If the capability is a string that takes parameters, the
              arguments following the capability will be used as
              parameters for the string.

              Most parameters are numbers.  Only a few terminal
              capabilities require string parameters; @TPUT@ uses a
              table to decide which to pass as strings.  Normally @TPUT@
              uses tparm(3X) to perform the substitution.  If no
              parameters are given for the capability, @TPUT@ writes the
              string without performing the substitution.

       init   If the terminal database is present and an entry for the
              user's terminal exists (see -Ttype, above), the following
              will occur:

              (1)  first, @TPUT@ retrieves the current terminal mode
                   settings for your terminal.  It does this by
                   successively testing

                   •   the standard error,

                   •   standard output,

                   •   standard input and

                   •   ultimately “/dev/tty”

                   to obtain terminal settings.  Having retrieved these
                   settings, @TPUT@ remembers which file descriptor to
                   use when updating settings.

              (2)  if the window size cannot be obtained from the
                   operating system, but the terminal description (or
                   environment, e.g., LINES and COLUMNS variables
                   specify this), update the operating system's notion
                   of the window size.

              (3)  the terminal modes will be updated:

                   •   any delays (e.g., newline) specified in the entry
                       will be set in the tty driver,

                   •   tabs expansion will be turned on or off according
                       to the specification in the entry, and

                   •   if tabs are not expanded, standard tabs will be
                       set (every 8 spaces).

              (4)  if present, the terminal's initialization strings
                   will be output as detailed in the terminfo(5) section
                   on Tabs and Initialization,

              (5)  output is flushed.

              If an entry does not contain the information needed for
              any of these activities, that activity will silently be

       reset  This is similar to init, with two differences:

              (1)  before any other initialization, the terminal modes
                   will be reset to a “sane” state:

                   •   set cooked and echo modes,

                   •   turn off cbreak and raw modes,

                   •   turn on newline translation and

                   •   reset any unset special characters to their
                       default values

              (2)  Instead of putting out initialization strings, the
                   terminal's reset strings will be output if present
                   (rs1, rs2, rs3, rf).  If the reset strings are not
                   present, but initialization strings are, the
                   initialization strings will be output.

              Otherwise, reset acts identically to init.

              If the terminal database is present and an entry for the
              user's terminal exists (see -Ttype above), then the long
              name of the terminal will be put out.  The long name is
              the last name in the first line of the terminal's
              description in the terminfo database [see term(5)].

       @TPUT@ handles the clear, init and reset commands specially: it
       allows for the possibility that it is invoked by a link with
       those names.

       If @TPUT@ is invoked by a link named reset, this has the same
       effect as @TPUT@ reset.  The @TSET@(1) utility also treats a link
       named reset specially.

       Before ncurses 6.1, the two utilities were different from each

       •   @TSET@ utility reset the terminal modes and special
           characters (not done with @TPUT@).

       •   On the other hand, @TSET@'s repertoire of terminal
           capabilities for resetting the terminal was more limited,
           i.e., only reset_1string, reset_2string and reset_file in
           contrast to the tab-stops and margins which are set by this

       •   The reset program is usually an alias for @TSET@, because of
           this difference with resetting terminal modes and special

       With the changes made for ncurses 6.1, the reset feature of the
       two programs is (mostly) the same.  A few differences remain:

       •   The @TSET@ program waits one second when resetting, in case
           it happens to be a hardware terminal.

       •   The two programs write the terminal initialization strings to
           different streams (i.e., the standard error for @TSET@ and
           the standard output for @TPUT@).

           Note: although these programs write to different streams,
           redirecting their output to a file will capture only part of
           their actions.  The changes to the terminal modes are not
           affected by redirecting the output.

       If @TPUT@ is invoked by a link named init, this has the same
       effect as @TPUT@ init.  Again, you are less likely to use that
       link because another program named init has a more well-
       established use.

   Terminal Size
       Besides the special commands (e.g., clear), @TPUT@ treats certain
       terminfo capabilities specially: lines and cols.  @TPUT@ calls
       setupterm(3X) to obtain the terminal size:

       •   first, it gets the size from the terminal database (which
           generally is not provided for terminal emulators which do not
           have a fixed window size)

       •   then it asks the operating system for the terminal's size
           (which generally works, unless connecting via a serial line
           which does not support NAWS: negotiations about window size).

       •   finally, it inspects the environment variables LINES and
           COLUMNS which may override the terminal size.

       If the -T option is given @TPUT@ ignores the environment
       variables by calling use_tioctl(TRUE), relying upon the operating
       system (or finally, the terminal database).

EXAMPLES         top

       @TPUT@ init
            Initialize the terminal according to the type of terminal in
            the environmental variable TERM.  This command should be
            included in everyone's .profile after the environmental
            variable TERM has been exported, as illustrated on the
            profile(5) manual page.

       @TPUT@ -T5620 reset
            Reset an AT&T 5620 terminal, overriding the type of terminal
            in the environmental variable TERM.

       @TPUT@ cup 0 0
            Send the sequence to move the cursor to row 0, column 0 (the
            upper left corner of the screen, usually known as the “home”
            cursor position).

       @TPUT@ clear
            Echo the clear-screen sequence for the current terminal.

       @TPUT@ cols
            Print the number of columns for the current terminal.

       @TPUT@ -T450 cols
            Print the number of columns for the 450 terminal.

       bold=`@TPUT@ smso` offbold=`@TPUT@ rmso`
            Set the shell variables bold, to begin stand-out mode
            sequence, and offbold, to end standout mode sequence, for
            the current terminal.  This might be followed by a prompt:
            echo "${bold}Please type in your name: ${offbold}\c"

       @TPUT@ hc
            Set exit code to indicate if the current terminal is a hard
            copy terminal.

       @TPUT@ cup 23 4
            Send the sequence to move the cursor to row 23, column 4.

       @TPUT@ cup
            Send the terminfo string for cursor-movement, with no
            parameters substituted.

       @TPUT@ longname
            Print the long name from the terminfo database for the type
            of terminal specified in the environmental variable TERM.

            @TPUT@ -S <<!
            > clear
            > cup 10 10
            > bold
            > !

            This example shows @TPUT@ processing several capabilities in
            one invocation.  It clears the screen, moves the cursor to
            position 10, 10 and turns on bold (extra bright) mode.  The
            list is terminated by an exclamation mark (!) on a line by

FILES         top

              compiled terminal description database

              tab settings for some terminals, in a format appropriate
              to be output to the terminal (escape sequences that set
              margins and tabs); for more information, see the Tabs and
              Initialization, section of terminfo(5)

EXIT CODES         top

       If the -S option is used, @TPUT@ checks for errors from each
       line, and if any errors are found, will set the exit code to 4
       plus the number of lines with errors.  If no errors are found,
       the exit code is 0.  No indication of which line failed can be
       given so exit code 1 will never appear.  Exit codes 2, 3, and 4
       retain their usual interpretation.  If the -S option is not used,
       the exit code depends on the type of capname:

                 a value of 0 is set for TRUE and 1 for FALSE.

          string a value of 0 is set if the capname is defined for this
                 terminal type (the value of capname is returned on
                 standard output); a value of 1 is set if capname is not
                 defined for this terminal type (nothing is written to
                 standard output).

                 a value of 0 is always set, whether or not capname is
                 defined for this terminal type.  To determine if
                 capname is defined for this terminal type, the user
                 must test the value written to standard output.  A
                 value of -1 means that capname is not defined for this
                 terminal type.

          other  reset or init may fail to find their respective files.
                 In that case, the exit code is set to 4 + errno.

       Any other exit code indicates an error; see the DIAGNOSTICS

DIAGNOSTICS         top

       @TPUT@ prints the following error messages and sets the
       corresponding exit codes.

       exit code   error message
       0           (capname is a numeric variable that is not specified in
                   the terminfo(5) database for this terminal type, e.g.
                   @TPUT@ -T450 lines and @TPUT@ -Thp2621 xmc)
       1           no error message is printed, see the EXIT CODES section.
       2           usage error
       3           unknown terminal type or no terminfo database
       4           unknown terminfo capability capname
       >4          error occurred in -S

HISTORY         top

       The tput command was begun by Bill Joy in 1980.  The initial
       version only cleared the screen.

       AT&T System V provided a different tput command:

       •   SVr2 provided a rudimentary tput which checked the parameter
           against each predefined capability and returned the
           corresponding value.  This version of tput did not use
           tparm(3X) for the capabilities which are parameterized.

       •   SVr3 replaced that, a year later, by a more extensive program
           whose init and reset subcommands (more than half the program)
           were incorporated from the reset feature of BSD tset written
           by Eric Allman.

       •   SVr4 added color initialization using the orig_colors and
           orig_pair capabilities in the init subcommand.

       Keith Bostic replaced the BSD tput command in 1989 with a new
       implementation based on the AT&T System V program tput.  Like the
       AT&T program, Bostic's version accepted some parameters named for
       terminfo capabilities (clear, init, longname and reset).  However
       (because he had only termcap available), it accepted termcap
       names for other capabilities.  Also, Bostic's BSD tput did not
       modify the terminal I/O modes as the earlier BSD tset had done.

       At the same time, Bostic added a shell script named “clear”,
       which used tput to clear the screen.

       Both of these appeared in 4.4BSD, becoming the “modern” BSD
       implementation of tput.

       This implementation of tput began from a different source than
       AT&T or BSD: Ross Ridge's mytinfo package, published on
       comp.sources.unix in December 1992.  Ridge's program made more
       sophisticated use of the terminal capabilities than the BSD
       program.  Eric Raymond used that tput program (and other parts of
       mytinfo) in ncurses in June 1995.  Using the portions dealing
       with terminal capabilities almost without change, Raymond made
       improvements to the way the command-line parameters were handled.

PORTABILITY         top

       This implementation of tput differs from AT&T tput in two
       important areas:

       •   @TPUT@ capname writes to the standard output.  That need not
           be a regular terminal.  However, the subcommands which
           manipulate terminal modes may not use the standard output.

           The AT&T implementation's init and reset commands use the BSD
           (4.1c) tset source, which manipulates terminal modes.  It
           successively tries standard output, standard error, standard
           input before falling back to “/dev/tty” and finally just
           assumes a 1200Bd terminal.  When updating terminal modes, it
           ignores errors.

           Until changes made after ncurses 6.0, @TPUT@ did not modify
           terminal modes.  @TPUT@ now uses a similar scheme, using
           functions shared with @TSET@ (and ultimately based on the
           4.4BSD tset).  If it is not able to open a terminal, e.g.,
           when running in cron(1), @TPUT@ will return an error.

       •   AT&T tput guesses the type of its capname operands by seeing
           if all of the characters are numeric, or not.

           Most implementations which provide support for capname
           operands use the tparm function to expand parameters in it.
           That function expects a mixture of numeric and string
           parameters, requiring @TPUT@ to know which type to use.

           This implementation uses a table to determine the parameter
           types for the standard capname operands, and an internal
           library function to analyze nonstandard capname operands.

           Besides providing more reliable operation than AT&T's
           utility, a portability problem is introduced by this
           analysis: An OpenBSD developer adapted the internal library
           function from ncurses to port NetBSD's termcap-based tput to
           terminfo.  That had been modified to interpret multiple
           commands on a line.  Portable applications should not rely
           upon this feature; ncurses provides it to support
           applications written specifically for OpenBSD.

       This implementation (unlike others) can accept both termcap and
       terminfo names for the capname feature, if termcap support is
       compiled in.  However, the predefined termcap and terminfo names
       have two ambiguities in this case (and the terminfo name is

       •   The termcap name dl corresponds to the terminfo name dl1
           (delete one line).
           The terminfo name dl corresponds to the termcap name DL
           (delete a given number of lines).

       •   The termcap name ed corresponds to the terminfo name rmdc
           (end delete mode).
           The terminfo name ed corresponds to the termcap name cd
           (clear to end of screen).

       The longname and -S options, and the parameter-substitution
       features used in the cup example, were not supported in BSD
       curses before 4.3reno (1989) or in AT&T/USL curses before SVr4

       IEEE Std 1003.1/The Open Group  Base Specifications Issue 7
       (POSIX.1-2008) documents only the operands for clear, init and
       reset.  There are a few interesting observations to make
       regarding that:

       •   In this implementation, clear is part of the capname support.
           The others (init and longname) do not correspond to terminal

       •   Other implementations of tput on SVr4-based systems such as
           Solaris, IRIX64 and HPUX as well as others such as AIX and
           Tru64 provide support for capname operands.

       •   A few platforms such as FreeBSD recognize termcap names
           rather than terminfo capability names in their respective
           tput commands.  Since 2010, NetBSD's tput uses terminfo
           names.  Before that, it (like FreeBSD) recognized termcap

           Beginning in 2021, FreeBSD uses the ncurses tput, configured
           for both terminfo (tested first) and termcap (as a fallback).

       Because (apparently) all of the certified Unix systems support
       the full set of capability names, the reasoning for documenting
       only a few may not be apparent.

       •   X/Open Curses Issue 7 documents tput differently, with
           capname and the other features used in this implementation.

       •   That is, there are two standards for tput: POSIX (a subset)
           and X/Open Curses (the full implementation).  POSIX documents
           a subset to avoid the complication of including X/Open Curses
           and the terminal capabilities database.

       •   While it is certainly possible to write a tput program
           without using curses, none of the systems which have a curses
           implementation provide a tput utility which does not provide
           the capname feature.

       X/Open Curses Issue 7 (2009) is the first version to document
       utilities.  However that part of X/Open Curses does not follow
       existing practice (i.e., Unix features documented in SVID 3):

       •   It assigns exit code 4 to “invalid operand”, which may be the
           same as unknown capability.  For instance, the source code
           for Solaris' xcurses uses the term “invalid” in this case.

       •   It assigns exit code 255 to a numeric variable that is not
           specified in the terminfo database.  That likely is a
           documentation error, confusing the -1 written to the standard
           output for an absent or cancelled numeric value versus an
           (unsigned) exit code.

       The various Unix systems (AIX, HPUX, Solaris) use the same exit-
       codes as ncurses.

       NetBSD curses documents different exit codes which do not
       correspond to either ncurses or X/Open.

SEE ALSO         top

       @CLEAR@(1), stty(1), @TABS@(1), @TSET@(1), curs_termcap(3X),

       This describes ncurses version @NCURSES_MAJOR@.@NCURSES_MINOR@
       (patch @NCURSES_PATCH@).

COLOPHON         top

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