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From: Thomas Dickey
Subject: ncurses-5.9
Date: Mon, 04 Apr 2011 19:43:51 -0400
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)

  Announcing ncurses 5.9

   [image of the Head of a GNU]

   The  Ncurses  (new  curses)  library  is  a free software emulation of
   curses  in  System  V  Release 4.0, and more. It uses Terminfo format,
   supports  pads  and color and multiple highlights and forms characters
   and   function-key   mapping,   and  has  all  the  other  SYSV-curses
   enhancements over BSD Curses.

   The ncurses code was developed under GNU/Linux. It has been in use for
   some  time  with  OpenBSD as the system curses library, and on FreeBSD
   and  NetBSD  as  an  external  package.  It  should port easily to any
   ANSI/POSIX-conforming UNIX. It has even been ported to OS/2 Warp!

   The distribution includes the library and support utilities, including
   a  terminfo compiler tic, a decompiler infocmp, clear, tput, tset, and
   a  termcap  conversion  tool captoinfo. Full manual pages are provided
   for the library and tools.

   The  Ncurses  distribution  is  available via anonymous FTP at the GNU
   distribution site .
   It is also available at .

                                 Release Notes

   This  release  is  designed  to  be upward compatible from ncurses 5.0
   through   5.8;  very  few  applications  will  require  recompilation,
   depending   on  the  platform.  These  are  the  highlights  from  the
   change-log since ncurses 5.8 release.

   This  is  a  bug-fix  release,  correcting  a  small  number of urgent
   problems in the ncurses library from the 5.8 release.

   It also improves the Ada95 binding:
     * fixes  a  longstanding  portability problem with its use of the
       set_field_type    function.    Because    that    function    uses
       variable-length  argument  lists, its interface with gnat does not
       work with certain platforms.
     * improves configurability and portability, particularly when built
       separately  from the main ncurses tree. The 5.8 release introduced
       scripts  which  can be used to construct separate tarballs for the
       Ada95 and ncurses examples.
       Those  were a proof of concept. For the 5.9 release, those scripts
       are  augmented  with  rpm-  and  dpkg-scripts  used in test builds
       against  a  variety of gnat- and system ncurses versions as old as
       gnat 3.15 and ncurses 5.4 (see snapshots and systems tested here.
     * additional improvements were made for portability of the ncurses
       examples,  adding  rpm- and dpkg-scripts for test-builds. See this
       page for snapshots and other information.

                              Features of Ncurses

   The Ncurses package is fully compatible with SVr4 (System V Release 4)
     * All  257  of  the  SVr4  calls  have  been implemented (and are
     * Full support for SVr4 curses features including keyboard mapping,
       color,   forms-drawing   with   ACS   characters,   and  automatic
       recognition of keypad and function keys.
     * An  emulation of the SVr4 panels library, supporting a stack of
       windows with backing store, is included.
     * An emulation of the SVr4 menus library, supporting a uniform but
       flexible interface for menu programming, is included.
     * An emulation of the SVr4 form library, supporting data collection
       through on-screen forms, is included.
     * Binary   terminfo   entries   generated   by  the  Ncurses  tic
       implementation  are  bit-for-bit-compatible  with the entry format
       SVr4 curses uses.
     * The utilities have options to allow you to filter terminfo entries
       for  use  with  less  capable Curses/Terminfo versions such as the
       HP/UX and AIX ports.

   The Ncurses package also has many useful extensions over SVr4:
     * The API is 8-bit clean and base-level conformant with the X/OPEN
       curses  specification, XSI curses (that is, it implements all BASE
       level  features,  and  most  EXTENDED  features). It includes many
       function calls not supported under SVr4 curses (but portability of
       all calls is documented so you can use the SVr4 subset only).
     * Unlike SVr3 curses, Ncurses can write to the rightmost-bottommost
       corner  of  the  screen  if  your terminal has an insert-character
     * Ada95 and C++ bindings.
     * Support for mouse event reporting with X Window xterm and FreeBSD
       and OS/2 console windows.
     * Extended mouse support via Alessandro Rubini's gpm package.
     * The  function  wresize allows you to resize windows, preserving
       their data.
     * The function use_default_colors allows you to use the terminal's
       default colors for the default color pair, achieving the effect of
       transparent colors.
     * The functions keyok and define_key allow you to better control the
       use of function keys, e.g., disabling the Ncurses KEY_MOUSE, or by
       defining  more  than  one  control  sequence to map to a given key
     * Support  for  256-color  terminals,  such as modern xterm, when
       configured using the --enable-ext-colors option.
     * Support for 16-color terminals, such as aixterm and modern xterm.
     * Better cursor-movement optimization. The package now features a
       cursor-local-movement computation more efficient than either BSD's
       or System V's.
     * Super   hardware  scrolling  support.  The  screen-update  code
       incorporates  a novel, simple, and cheap algorithm that enables it
       to  make  optimal  use  of hardware scrolling, line-insertion, and
       line-deletion  for  screen-line  movements. This algorithm is more
       powerful than the 4.4BSD Curses quickch routine.
     * Real  support  for  terminals with the magic-cookie glitch. The
       screen-update  code  will  refrain from drawing a highlight if the
       magic-   cookie  unattributed  spaces  required  just  before  the
       beginning  and  after the end would step on a non-space character.
       It  will  automatically  shift  highlight boundaries when doing so
       would  make it possible to draw the highlight without changing the
       visual appearance of the screen.
     * It is possible to generate the library with a list of pre-loaded
       fallback  entries linked to it so that it can serve those terminal
       types  even  when  no  terminfo tree or termcap file is accessible
       (this  may  be useful for support of screen-oriented programs that
       must run in single-user mode).
     * The tic/captoinfo utility provided with Ncurses has the ability to
       translate  many  termcaps  from  the XENIX, IBM and AT&T extension
     * A BSD-like tset utility is provided.
     * The Ncurses library and utilities will automatically read terminfo
       entries  from  $HOME/.terminfo  if  it exists, and compile to that
       directory  if  it  exists  and the user has no write access to the
       system  directory.  This feature makes it easier for users to have
       personal  terminfo  entries without giving up access to the system
       terminfo directory.
     * You  may  specify  a path of directories to search for compiled
       descriptions  with  the  environment  variable TERMINFO_DIRS (this
       generalizes  the  feature  provided by TERMINFO under stock System
     * In terminfo source files, use capabilities may refer not just to
       other entries in the same source file (as in System V) but also to
       compiled  entries  in  either the system terminfo directory or the
       user's $HOME/.terminfo directory.
     * A  script (capconvert) is provided to help BSD users transition
       from  termcap to terminfo. It gathers the information in a TERMCAP
       environment  variable  and/or  a ~/.termcap local entries file and
       converts   it   to   an   equivalent  local  terminfo  tree  under
     * Automatic  fallback to the /etc/termcap file can be compiled in
       when  it is not possible to build a terminfo tree. This feature is
       neither  fast  nor cheap, you don't want to use it unless you have
       to, but it's there.
     * The table-of-entries utility toe makes it easy for users to see
       exactly what terminal types are available on the system.
     * The library meets the XSI requirement that every macro entry point
       have  a  corresponding  function  which may be linked (and will be
       prototype-checked)  if  the  macro  definition  is  disabled  with
     * An  HTML  "Introduction  to  Programming with NCURSES" document
       provides  a  narrative  introduction  to  the  curses  programming

                             State of the Package

   Numerous bugs present in earlier versions have been fixed; the library
   is  far  more  reliable  than  it  used to be. Bounds checking in many
   `dangerous'  entry points has been improved. The code is now type-safe
   according  to gcc -Wall. The library has been checked for malloc leaks
   and arena corruption by the Purify memory-allocation tester.

   The  Ncurses  code has been tested with a wide variety of applications
   including (versions starting with those noted):

          Curses Development Kit


          the  underlying  application used in Slackware's setup, and the
          basis for similar applications on GNU/Linux.

          the character-screen WWW browser

   Midnight Commander
          file manager

          mail utility

          file-transfer utility

          New vi versions 1.50 are able to use ncurses versions 1.9.7 and

          Lynx-like info browser.

          newsreader, supporting color, MIME

   as well as some that use ncurses for the terminfo support alone:

          terminal emulator


   The  Ncurses  distribution  includes  a  selection  of  test  programs
   (including a few games).

Who's Who and What's What

   Zeyd  Ben-Halim started it from a previous package pcurses, written by
   Pavel  Curtis.  Eric S. Raymond continued development. Juergen Pfeifer
   wrote  most of the form and menu libraries. Ongoing work is being done
   by  Thomas  Dickey.  Thomas Dickey acts as the maintainer for the Free
   Software Foundation, which holds the copyright on ncurses. Contact the
   current maintainers at address@hidden

   To   join   the   Ncurses   mailing   list,   please  write  email  to
   address@hidden containing the line:
             subscribe <name>@<host.domain>

   This list is open to anyone interested in helping with the development
   and testing of this package.

   Beta  versions  of Ncurses and patches to the current release are made
   available at .

Future Plans

     * Extended-level   XPG4  conformance,  with  internationalization
     * Ports to more systems, including DOS and Windows.

   We  need  people to help with these projects. If you are interested in
   working on them, please join the Ncurses list.

Other Related Resources

   The  distribution  provides  a  newer  version  of the terminfo-format
   terminal description file once maintained by Eric Raymond . Unlike the
   older  version, the termcap and terminfo data are provided in the same
   file, and provides several user-definable extensions beyond the X/Open

   You  can  find  lots  of  information  on  terminal-related topics not
   covered in the terminfo file at Richard Shuford's archive .

   Return to GNU's home page.

   Please  send FSF & GNU inquiries & questions to address@hidden There are
   also other ways to contact the FSF.

   Please  send  comments  on  these web pages to address@hidden,
   send other questions to address@hidden

   Copyright  (c) 1998,2000,2004,2005,2006,2008 Free Software Foundation,
   Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA

   Verbatim  copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted
   in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

   Updated: $Date: 2011/04/04 23:38:33 $ $Author: dickey $

Thomas E. Dickey <address@hidden>

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