tic - the terminfo entry-description compiler
tic [-01CDGIKLNTUVacfgrstx] [-e names] [-o dir] [-R sub-
set] [-v[n]] [-w[n]] file
The tic command translates a terminfo file from source
format into compiled format. The compiled format is nec-
essary for use with the library 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 entry). The tic command writes
only one type of entry, depending on how it was built:
o For directory trees, the top-level directory, e.g.,
/usr/share/terminfo, specifies the location of the
o 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"
In either case (directory or hashed database), tic will
create the container if it does not exist. For a direc-
tory, this would be the "terminfo" leaf, versus a "ter-
The results are normally placed in the system terminfo
database /usr/share/terminfo. The compiled terminal
description can be placed in a different terminfo data-
base. There are two ways to achieve this:
o First, you may override the system default either by
using the -o option, or by setting the variable TER-
MINFO in your shell environment to a valid database
o Secondly, if tic cannot write in /usr/share/terminfo
or the location specified using your TERMINFO vari-
able, 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
o a location specified with the TERMINFO environment
o directories listed in the TERMINFO_DIRS environment
o a compiled-in list of directories
o 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 discarding them. Capabilities are com-
mented 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.
-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
-c 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 warn-
ings 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 doc-
umented limit in terminfo), these entries may cause
core dumps with other implementations.
-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
summarized above, it will print a diagnostic and
exit with an error rather than printing a list of
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 con-
taining the list if it contains a '/'. (Note:
depending on how tic was compiled, this option may
require -I or -C.)
-f Display complex terminfo strings which contain
if/then/else/endif expressions indented for read-
-G Display constant literals in decimal form rather
than their character equivalents.
-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 <term.h>
-N Disable smart defaults. Normally, when translating
from termcap to terminfo, the compiler makes a num-
ber of assumptions about the defaults of string
capabilities reset1_string, carriage_return, cur-
sor_left, cursor_down, scroll_forward, tab, new-
line, key_backspace, key_left, and key_down, then
attempts to use obsolete termcap capabilities to
deduce correct values. It also normally suppresses
output of obsolete termcap capabilities such as bs.
This option forces a more literal translation that
also preserves the obsolete capabilities.
-odir Write compiled entries to given database location.
Overrides the TERMINFO environment variable.
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 out-
right broken ports like AIX 3.x that have their own
extensions incompatible with SVr4/XSI. Available
subsets are "SVr1", "Ultrix", "HP", "BSD" and
"AIX"; see terminfo(5) for details.
-r Force entry resolution (so there are no remaining
tc capabilities) even when doing translation to
termcap format. This may be needed if you are pre-
paring 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.
-s Summarize the compile by showing the database loca-
tion into which entries are written, and the number
of entries which are compiled.
-T 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).
-t tells tic to discard commented-out capabilities.
Normally when translating from terminfo to termcap,
untranslatable capabilities are commented-out.
-U 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 term-
-V reports the version of ncurses which was used in this
program, and exits.
-vn specifies that (verbose) output be written to stan-
dard 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 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:
1 Names of files created and linked
2 Information related to the ``use'' facility
3 Statistics from the hashing algorithm
5 String-table memory allocations
7 Entries into the string-table
8 List of tokens encountered by scanner
9 All values computed in construction of the
If the debug level n is not given, it is taken to be
-wn specifies the width of the output. The parameter is
optional. If it is omitted, it defaults to 60.
-x Treat unknown capabilities as user-defined. 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
file contains one or more terminfo terminal descriptions
in source format [see terminfo(5)]. Each descrip-
tion in the file describes the capabilities of a
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 doc-
umented in terminfo(5). The exception is the use capabil-
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
There is some evidence that historic tic implementations
treated description fields with no whitespace in them as
additional aliases or short names. This tic does not do
that, but it does warn when description fields may be
treated that way and check them for dangerous characters.
Unlike the SVr4 tic command, this implementation can actu-
ally compile termcap sources. In fact, entries in ter-
minfo 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 capabilities. This implementation of tic
will find use targets anywhere in the source file, or any-
where 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
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 explic-
itly set to it.
Compiled terminal description database.
infocmp(1m), captoinfo(1m), infotocap(1m), toe(1m),
curses(3x), term(5). terminfo(5).
This describes ncurses version 5.9 (patch 20130518).
Eric S. Raymond <firstname.lastname@example.org> and
Thomas E. Dickey <email@example.com>
Man(1) output converted with