-- $Id: README,v 1.20 2000/08/12 23:31:21 tom Exp $
README file for the ncurses package
See the file ANNOUNCE for a summary of ncurses features and ports.
See the file INSTALL for instructions on how to build and install ncurses.
See the file NEWS for a release history and bug-fix notes.
See the file TO-DO for things that still need doing, including known bugs.
Browse the file misc/ncurses-intro.html for narrative descriptions of how
to use ncurses and the panel, menu, and form libraries.
Browse the file doc/html/hackguide.html for a tour of the package internals.
ROADMAP AND PACKAGE OVERVIEW:
You should be reading this file in a directory called: ncurses-d.d, where d.d
is the current version number (see the dist.mk file in this directory for
that). There should be a number of subdirectories, including `c++', `form',
`man', `menu', `misc', `ncurses', `panel', `progs', `test', 'tack' and `Ada95'.
(The 'tack' program may be distributed separately).
A full build/install of this package typically installs several libraries, a
handful of utilities, and a database hierarchy. Here is an inventory of the
The libraries are:
libncurses_g.a (debug and trace code enabled)
libncurses_p.a (profiling enabled)
libpanel_g.a (debug and trace code enabled)
libmenu_g.a (debug enabled)
libform_g.a (debug enabled)
The ncurses libraries implement the curses API. The panel, menu and forms
libraries implement clones of the SVr4 panel, menu and forms APIs. The source
code for these lives in the `ncurses', `panel', `menu', and `form' directories
In the `c++' directory, you'll find code that defines an interface to the
curses, forms, menus and panels library packaged as C++ classes, and a demo program in C++
to test it. These class definition modules are not installed by the 'make
install.libs' rule as libncurses++.
In the `Ada95' directory, you'll find code and documentation for an
Ada95 binding of the curses API, to be used with the GNAT compiler.
This binding is built by a normal top-level `make' if configure detects
an usable version of GNAT (3.10 or above). It is not installed automatically.
See the Ada95 directory for more build and installation instructions and
for documentation of the binding.
To do its job, the ncurses code needs your terminal type to be set in the
environment variable TERM (normally set by your OS; under UNIX, getty(1)
typically does this, but you can override it in your .profile); and, it needs a
database of terminal descriptions in which to look up your terminal type's
In older (V7/BSD) versions of curses, the database was a flat text file,
/etc/termcap; in newer (USG/USL) versions, the database is a hierarchy of
fast-loading binary description blocks under /usr/lib/terminfo. These binary
blocks are compiled from an improved editable text representation called
`terminfo' format (documented in man/terminfo.5). The ncurses library can use
either /etc/termcap or the compiled binary terminfo blocks, but prefers the
In the `misc' directory, there is a text file terminfo.src, in editable
terminfo format, which can be used to generate the terminfo binaries (that's
what make install.data does). If the package was built with the
--enable-termcap option enabled, and the ncurses library cannot find a terminfo
description for your terminal, it will fall back to the termcap file supplied
with your system (which the ncurses package installation leaves strictly
The utilities are as follows:
tic -- terminfo source to binary compiler
infocmp -- terminfo binary to source decompiler/comparator
clear -- emits clear-screen for current terminal
tput -- shell-script access to terminal capabilities.
toe -- table of entries utility
tset -- terminal-initialization utility
The first two (tic and infocmp) are used for manipulating terminfo
descriptions; the next two (clear and tput) are for use in shell scripts. The
last (tset) is provided for 4.4BSD compatibility. The source code for all of
these lives in the `progs' directory.
Detailed documentation for all libraries and utilities can be found in the
`man' and `doc' directories. An HTML introduction to ncurses, panels, and
menus programming lives in the `doc/html' directory. Manpages in HTML format
are under `doc/html/man'.
The `test' directory contains programs that can be used to verify or
demonstrate the functions of the ncurses libraries. See test/README for
descriptions of these programs. Notably, the `ncurses' utility is designed to
help you systematically exercise the library functions.
wrote the original ncurses
Zeyd M. Ben-Halim:
port of original to Linux and many enhancements.
Thomas Dickey (maintainer for 1.9.9g through 4.1, resuming with FSF's 5.0):
configuration scripts, porting, mods to adhere to XSI Curses in the
areas of background color, terminal modes. Also memory leak testing,
the wresize, default colors and key definition extensions and numerous
bug fixes (more than half of those enumerated in NEWS beginning with
the internal release 1.8.9).
Florian La Roche (official maintainer for FSF's ncurses 4.2)
Beginning with release 4.2, ncurses is distributed under an MIT-style
Eric S. Raymond:
the man pages, infocmp(1), tput(1), clear(1), captoinfo(1), tset(1),
toe(1), most of tic(1), trace levels, the HTML intro, wgetnstr() and
many other entry points, the cursor-movement optimization, the
scroll-pack optimizer for vertical motions, the mouse interface and
xterm mouse support, and the ncurses test program.
The menu and form libraries, C++ bindings for ncurses, menus, forms and
panels, as well as the Ada95 binding. Ongoing support for panel.
Alexander V. Lukyanov
for numerous fixes and improvements to the optimization logic.
for first-class bug-chasing and methodical testing.
for the code that hacks termcap parameterized strings into terminfo.
Warren Tucker and Gerhard Fuernkranz,
for writing and sending the panel library.
for many patches and testing the optimization code.
Eric Newton, Ulrich Drepper, and Anatoly Ivasyuk:
the C++ code.
for lessons in using sed.
Keith Bostic (maintainer of 4.4BSD curses)
for help, criticism, comments, bug-finding, and being willing to
deep-six BSD curses for this one when it grew up.
for his commitment to making ncurses free software.
Countless other people have contributed by reporting bugs, sending fixes,
suggesting improvements, and generally whining about ncurses :-)
See the INSTALL file for bug and developer-list addresses.
The Hacker's Guide in the doc directory includes some guidelines
on how to report bugs in ways that will get them fixed most quickly.