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ncurses 5.8

From: Thomas Dickey
Subject: ncurses 5.8
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2011 18:28:17 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.18 (2008-05-17)

                            Announcing ncurses 5.8

   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.

   In  mid-June  1995,  the  maintainer of 4.4BSD curses declared that he
   considered  4.4BSD curses obsolete, and encouraged the keepers of Unix
   releases such as BSD/OS, FreeBSD and NetBSD to switch over to ncurses.

   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(1),  a  decompiler  infocmp(1),  clear(1),
   tput(1),  tset(1),  and  a  termcap conversion tool captoinfo(1). Full
   manual pages are provided for the library and tools.

   The  ncurses  distribution  is  available via anonymous FTP at the GNU
   distribution site [1] .
   It is also available at [2] .

                                 Release Notes

   This  release  is  designed  to  be upward compatible from ncurses 5.0
   through   5.7;  very  few  applications  will  require  recompilation,
   depending   on  the  platform.  These  are  the  highlights  from  the
   change-log since ncurses 5.7 release.

Interface changes

     * turn on _XOPEN_CURSES definition in curses.h.
     * change  _nc_has_mouse  to  has_mouse,  reflect  its use in C++ and
     * add is_pad and is_subwin functions for opaque access to the WINDOW
     * add tiparm, based on review of X/Open Curses Issue 7.

New features and improvements

  Library Improvements

     * add  a terminal driver for Windows console, which supports a MinGW
       port to Windows.
     * add  extended  functions  which  specify  the  SCREEN  pointer for
       several curses functions which use the global SP.
     * improve  the  NCURSES_NO_UTF8_ACS feature by adding a check for an
       extended terminfo capability U8.
     * improve  performance of tigetstr, etc., by using hashing code from
     * add  WACS_xxx  definitions  to  wide-character  configuration  for
       thick- and double-lines.
     * modify  init_pair  to  allow  caller  to  create extra color pairs
       beyond the color_pairs limit, which use default colors.

  Improvements to Programs

     * add tabs program.
     * modify  tic's  -I/-C  dump to reformat acsc strings into canonical
       form (sorted, unique mapping).
     * add  checks  in tic for inconsistent cursor-movement controls, and
       for inconsistent printer-controls.
     * add  special  case  to  _nc_infotocap (used by tic and infocmp) to
       recognize   the   setaf/setab   strings  from  xterm+256color  and
       xterm+88color,  and  provide  a  reduced  version which works with

  Terminal Database

     * added entries:
          + bterm terminfo entry, based on bogl 0.1.18
          + cons25-debian entry
          + eterm-color entry
          + linux-16color
          + mlterm+256color entry, for mlterm 3.0.0
          + several entries
          + screen.Eterm terminfo entry
          + vwmterm entry
          + xterm-utf8 entry as a demo of the U8 feature
     * updated/improved entries:
          + use extended capabilities:
               o add  U8 feature to denote entries for terminal emulators
                 which  do  not support VT100 SI/SO when processing UTF-8
               o add  XT capability to entries for terminals that support
                 both  xterm-style  mouse- and title-controls, for screen
                 which special-cases TERM beginning with xterm or rxvt
          + improvements based on new checks in tic:
               o fill  in  no-parameter  forms of cursor-movement where a
                 parameterized form is available
               o fill  in  missing  cursor controls where the form of the
                 controls is ANSI
               o add parameterized cursor-controls to linux-basic
               o modify  nsterm,  xnuppc  and  tek4115  to  make sgr/sgr0
               o change  several  terminfo entries to make consistent use
                 of ANSI clear-all-tabs
          + extend  ansi.sys  pfkey capability from kf1-kf10 to kf1-kf48,
            moving   function   key   definitions   from   emx-base   for
          + correct   missing   final   'p'   in   pfkey   capability  of
          + rename   atari   and  st52  terminfo  entries  to  atari-old,
            st52-old, use newer entries from FreeMiNT.
          + repurpose  gnome  terminfo  entries  as  vte, retaining gnome
            variants  for  compatibility, but generally deprecating those
            since  the  VTE library is what actually defines the behavior
            of "gnome", etc., since 2003.
          + improve  interix  smso  terminfo  capability by using reverse
            rather than bold.
          + correct  initc  capability  of  linux-c-nc end-of-range, make
            similar change for dg+ccc and dgunix+ccc.
          + update minix terminfo entry.
          + updated nsterm* entries.
          + remove unnecessary kcan assignment to ^C from putty.
          + suppress  ncv  in  screen  and konsole-base entries, allowing
          + change ncv and op capabilities in sun-color terminfo entry to
            match Sun's entry for this.
          + fix typo in rmso for tek4106 entry.
          + improve acsc string for vt52, show arrow keys.
          + add  hard-reset  for  rs2 to wsvt25 to help ensure that reset
            ends the alternate character set.
          + add ccc and initc capabilities to xterm-16color.

Major bug fixes

     * ncurses library
          + wide character support
               o modify length returned by getcchar to count the trailing
                 null which is documented in X/Open.
               o fix  an  infinite  recursion when adding a legacy-coding
                 8-bit value using insch.
               o improve  a  workaround in adding wide-characters, when a
                 control  character  is found. The library uses unctrl to
                 obtain a printable version of the control character, but
                 was not passing color or video attributes.
               o modify  waddch_literal,  updating  line-pointer  after a
                 multicolumn character is found to not fit on the current
                 row,  and  wrapping  is done. Since the line-pointer was
                 not  updated,  the  wrapped  multicolumn  character  was
                 written to the beginning of the current row.
               o fixes in wins_nwstr and related functions to ensure that
                 special characters, i.e., control characters are handled
                 properly with the wide-character configuration.
               o correct  internal  _nc_insert_ch  to  use _nc_insert_wch
                 when  inserting  wide  characters,  since  the  wins_wch
                 function   that  it  used  did  not  update  the  cursor
          + mouse
               o add  check  if Gpm_Open returns a -2, e.g., for "xterm".
                 This  is normally suppressed but can be overridden using
                 $NCURSES_GPM_TERMS.  Ensure  that Gpm_Close is called in
                 this case.
               o add  check  in mouse-driver to disable connection if GPM
                 returns  a  zero,  indicating  that  the  connection  is
               o modify  getmouse  to  act  as its documentation implied,
                 returning  on  each  call the preceding event until none
                 are  left.  When  no  more events remain, it will return
          + miscellaneous
               o improve  handling  of color-pairs embedded in attributes
                 for the extended-colors configuration.
               o add check for failure to open hashed-database needed for
               o modify  use of $CC environment variable which is defined
                 by X/Open as a curses feature, to ignore it if it is not
                 a single character.
               o modify  declaration  of  cur_term  when broken-linker is
                 used, but enable-reentrant is not, to match pre-5.7.
               o correct limit-checks in derwin.
               o remove  old  check  in mvderwin which prevented moving a
                 derived  window  whose  origin happened to coincide with
                 its parent's origin.
               o correct  limit-checks  in newwin, to ensure that windows
                 have nonzero size.
               o modify  set_curterm  to make broken-linker configuration
                 work with changes from 20090228.
               o modify  wgetch to ensure it checks SIGWINCH when it gets
                 an error in non-blocking mode.
               o correct   limit-check   in   wredrawln,  accounting  for
                 begy/begx values.
               o fix   a   null-pointer   check   in  _nc_format_slks  in
                 lib_slk.c, from 20070704 changes.
               o correct  translation  of  "^"  in _nc_infotocap, used to
                 transform terminfo to termcap strings.
               o modify  _nc_wgetch  to check for a -1 in the fifo, e.g.,
                 after  a  SIGWINCH,  and  discard  that  value, to avoid
                 confusing application.
     * other libraries
          + correct   transfer  of  multicolumn  characters  in  multirow
            field_buffer,  which  stopped at the end of the first row due
            to filling of unused entries in a cchar_t array with nulls.
          + correct buffer-size after internal resizing of wide-character
            set_field_buffer, broken in 20081018 changes.
          + correct  layout  of  working  window  used to extract data in
            wide-character configured by set_field_buffer


     * configure script:
          + new options:

                      use  the  "-version-number" feature which was added
                      in  libtool  1.5.  The default value for the option
                      uses  the  newer  feature,  which  makes  libraries
                      generated   using   libtool   compatible  with  the
                      standard builds of ncurses.

                      disable  a  feature  which  adds  rpath options for
                      libraries in unusual places.

                      integrate  changes  for  generic/interop support to

                      generate ".pc" files for each of the libraries, and
                      install them in pkg-config's library directory.

                      control  whether to allow EINTR to interrupt a read
                      operation  in  wgetch.  This  applies  only  to the
                      pthread configuration

                      compile-in  support  for  extended  functions which
                      accept  a  SCREEN  pointer,  reducing  the need for
                      juggling  the  global  SP  value  with set_term and

                      compile  with  terminal-driver. That is used in the
                      MinGW  port,  and (being somewhat more complicated)
                      is  an experimental alternative to the conventional
                      termlib   internals.  Currently,  it  requires  the
                      sp-funcs feature to be enabled.

                      allows  setting  the  prefix  for functions used to
                      wrap  global  variables  to  something  other  than

                      check  for  pkg-config,  optionally  specifying its

                      tells  the configure script to suppress the install
                      of ncurses' manpages.

                      suppress building test programs.

          + improved options:
               o correct logic for --with-database, which was coded as an
                 enable-type switch.
               o omit    the   opaque-functions   from   lib_gen.o   when
                 --disable-ext-funcs is used.
     * packaging:
          + *-config scripts:
               o modify  adacurses-config to look for ".ali" files in the
                 adalib directory.
               o correct  install  for  the  Ada95  tree,  which  omitted
                 libAdaCurses.a used in adacurses-config.
               o change   install   for   adacurses-config   to   provide
                 additional   flavors   such  as  adacursesw-config,  for
               o modify  scripts to generate ncurses*-config and pc-files
                 to add dependency for tinfo library.
               o use    ncurses*-config    scripts   if   available   for
               o correct name for termlib in ncurses*-config, e.g., if it
                 is renamed to provide a single file for ncurses/ncursesw
               o generate manpages for the *-config scripts, adapted from
               o modify   install-rule  for  manpages  so  that  *-config
                 manpages will install when building with --srcdir.
               o build-fixes   for   OpenSolaris   aka  Solaris  11,  for
                 wide-character   configuration  as  well  as  for  rpath
                 feature in *-config scripts.
               o use  $includedir  symbol  in misc/, add
                 --includedir option.
               o improve install-rules for pc-files.
               o create the pkg-config library directory if needed.
               o fix  typo  "==" where "=" is needed in
                 and files.
               o modify  to  eliminate  a dependency on
                 rpath  when  deciding  whether  to  add  $LIBS to --libs
                 output;  that  should be shown for the ncurses and tinfo
                 libraries without taking rpath into account.
               o modify  handling  of  $PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR to use only the
                 first item in a possibly colon-separated list.
          + other packaging issues
               o add scripts to Ada95 and test subdirectories
                 to help with making those separately distributable.
               o add  Ada95/configure  script, to use in tar-file created
                 by Ada95/
               o remove   and   related  configure/Makefile
                 chunks,  since  the Ada95 binding is now installed using
                 rules in Ada95/src.
     * cross-compiling:
          + improve  configure  checks  for  location  of tic and infocmp
            programs  used  for  installing  database  and for generating
            fallback data, e.g., for cross-compiling.
          + modify  #define's  for  build-compiler  to  suppress  cchar_t
            symbol  from  compile  of  make_hash and make_keys, improving
            cross-compilation of ncursesw.
          + simplify  include-dependencies of make_hash and make_keys, to
            reduce the need for setting BUILD_CPPFLAGS in cross-compiling
            when the build- and target-machines differ.
          + correct cross-compiling configure check for CF_MKSTEMP macro,
            by adding a check cache variable set by AC_CHECK_FUNC.
     * library dependencies:
          + revise  wadd_wch  and  wecho_wchar to eliminate dependency on
          + adjust  configure  script so that "t" is not added to library
            suffix  when  weak-symbols  are  used,  allowing  the pthread
            configuration to more closely match the non-thread naming.
     * building the Ada95 tree:
          + changes to use gnatmake project files in the Ada95 tree.
          + add/use   configure  check  to  turn  on  project  rules  for
          + old   gnatmake   (3.15)  does  not  produce  libraries  using
            project-file;  work  around  by  adding  script  to  generate
            alternate makefile.
          + add  configure --with-ada-sharedlib option, for the test_make
          + move  Ada95-related  logic  into aclocal.m4, since additional
            checks  will be needed to distinguish old/new implementations
            of gnat.
          + add test_make / test_clean / test_install rules in Ada95/src
          + change    install-path    for    adainclude    directory   to
            /usr/share/ada (was /usr/lib/ada).
     * other configure/build issues:
          + make CCHARW_MAX value configurable, noting that changing this
            would   change   the   size   of   cchar_t,   and   would  be
          + improve  comparison of program-names when checking for linked
            flavors such as "reset" by ignoring the executable suffix.
          + drop, use "mkdir -p".
          + drop  misc/ncu-indent  and misc/jpf-indent; they are provided
            by an external package [3]cindent.
          + change  makefiles  to  use  $ARFLAGS  rather  than  $AR_OPTS,
            provide  a  configure check to detect whether a "-" is needed
            before "ar" options.
          + modify   CF_DISABLE_LEAKS   configure   macro   so  that  the
            --enable-leaks option is not the same as --disable-leaks.
          + improve    configure   script   macros   CF_HEADER_PATH   and
            values to the search-lists.
          + improve  configure  macros CF_GCC_VERSION and CF_GCC_WARNINGS
            to  work  with  gcc  4.x's  c89  alias,  which  gives warning
            messages  for  cases  where  older  versions would produce an
          + modify  CF_WITH_LIBTOOL  configure  check to allow unreleased
            libtool version numbers (e.g. which include alphabetic chars,
            as well as digits, after the final '.').
          + improve  use  of  symbolic  links  in makefiles by using "-f"
            option  if it is supported, to eliminate temporary removal of
            the target
          + add  a  configure-time  check  to  pick  a suitable value for
            CC_SHARED_OPTS for Solaris.
          + add  -shared option to MK_SHARED_LIB when -Bsharable is used,
            for  *BSD's,  without which "main" might be one of the shared
            library's dependencies.
          + modify  configure  script  to allow building shared libraries
            with gcc on AIX 5 or 6.
          + suppress  configure check for static/dynamic linker flags for
            gcc on Solaris 10, since gcc is confused by absence of static
            libc,  and  does  not  switch  back  to  dynamic  mode before
            finishing the libraries.
          + suppress  configure check for static/dynamic linker flags for
            gcc on Darwin.
          + modify  misc/  to  create parent directory, in case
            this is a new install of hashed database.
          + modify  configure  check for tic program, used for fallbacks,
            to  a  warning  if  not  found.  This makes it simpler to use
            additonal  scripts  to bootstrap the fallbacks code using tic
            from the build tree.
     * test programs:
          + add test/demo_terminfo, for comparison with demo_termcap.
          + improve test/ncurses.c 'F' test, show combining characters in
          + fix logic for 'V' in test/ncurses.c tests f/F.
          + improve  test/ncurses.c 'a test to put mouse droppings in the
            proper window.
          + modify  ncurses  'F'  test  to  demo wborder_set with colored
          + modify ncurses 'f' test to demo wborder with colored lines.
          + improve   test/ncurses.c   'a'   test,   using   unctrl  more
            consistently to display meta-characters.
          + correct  use  of  key_name  in test/ncurses.c 'A' test, which
            only displays wide-characters, not key-codes since 20070612.
          + add  test/clip_printw.c  to  illustrate  how  to  use  printw
            without wrapping.
          + modify  test-programs,  e.g,.  test/view.c, to address subtle
            differences   between  Tru64/Solaris  and  HPUX/AIX  getcchar
            return values.
          + add  some  test programs (and make these use the same special
            keys  by  sharing  linedata.h  functions): test/test_addstr.c
            test/test_addwstr.c                      test/test_addchstr.c
          + add test/xterm-256color.dat
          + modify  test  programs  to allow them to be built with NetBSD
          + fixes for test programs to build/work on HPUX and AIX, etc.

                              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(1)
       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(1)/captoinfo utility provided with ncurses has the ability
       to  translate many termcaps from the XENIX, IBM and AT&T extension
     * A BSD-like tset(1) 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 [14]

   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  [17]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 [19] .

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 [20]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 specification.

   You  can  find  lots  of  information  on  terminal-related topics not
   covered in the terminfo file at [21]Richard Shuford's archive .


  17. mailto:address@hidden
  18. mailto:address@hidden

Thomas E. Dickey <address@hidden>

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