the terminfo entry-description compiler
tic [-01CDGIKLNTUVWacfgqrstx] [-e names] [-o dir] [-Q[n]] [-R subset] [-v[n]] [-w[n]] file
The tic command translates a terminfo file from source format into com‐
piled format. The compiled format is necessary for use with the li‐
brary routines in ncurses(3X).
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 en‐
try). The tic command writes only one type of entry, depending on how
it was built:
• For directory trees, the top-level directory, e.g., /usr/share/ter‐
minfo, specifies the location of the database.
• 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 con‐
tainer if it does not exist. For a directory, this would be the "ter‐
minfo" 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:
• First, you may override the system default either by using the -o
option, or by setting the variable TERMINFO in your shell environ‐
ment to a valid database location.
• Secondly, if tic cannot write in /usr/share/terminfo or the loca‐
tion specified using your TERMINFO variable, it looks for the di‐
rectory $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 succes‐
• a location specified with the TERMINFO environment variable,
• directories listed in the TERMINFO_DIRS environment variable,
• a compiled-in list of directories (no default value), and
• the system terminfo database (/usr/share/terminfo).
-0 restricts the output to a single line
-1 restricts the output to a single column
-a tells tic to retain commented-out capabilities rather than dis‐
carding them. Capabilities are commented by prefixing them with
a period. This sets the -x option, because it treats the com‐
mented-out entries as user-defined names. If the source is
termcap, accept the 2-character names required by version 6.
Otherwise these are ignored.
-C 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. Capabilities 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 re‐
port cases where the terminfo values do not have an exact equiv‐
alent in termcap form. For example:
• 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
• capabilities with more than one delay or with delays before
the end of the string will not convert completely.
-c tells tic to only check file for errors, including syntax prob‐
lems and bad use links. If you specify -C (-I) with this op‐
tion, 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 ter‐
minfo), these entries may cause core dumps with other implemen‐
tic checks string capabilities to ensure that those with parame‐
ters will be valid expressions. It does this check only for the
predefined string capabilities; those which are defined with the
-x option are ignored.
-D 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 terminal descriptions. If tic is not able to
find a writable database location according to the rules summa‐
rized above, it will print a diagnostic and exit with an error
rather than printing a list of database locations.
Limit writes and translations to the following comma-separated
list of terminals. 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 com‐
piled, this option may require -I or -C.)
-f Display complex terminfo strings which contain if/then/else/en‐
dif expressions indented for readability.
-G Display constant literals in decimal form rather than their
-g Display constant character literals in quoted form rather than
their decimal equivalents.
-I Force source translation to terminfo format.
-K Suppress some longstanding ncurses extensions to termcap format,
e.g., "\s" for space.
-L Force source translation to terminfo format using the long C
variable names listed in
There is some evidence that historic tic implementations treated de‐ scription fields with no whitespace in them as additional aliases or short names. This tic does not do that, but it does warn when descrip‐ tion fields may be treated that way and check them for dangerous char‐ acters.
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. See terminfo(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 ca‐ pabilities. 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 compiled entries. 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. The -0, -1, -C, -G, -I, -N, -R, -T, -V, -a, -e, -f, -g, -o, -r, -s, -t and -x options are not supported under SVr4. 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.
/usr/share/terminfo/?/* Compiled terminal description database.
Eric S. Raymond