rxvt (ouR XVT) - a VT102 emulator for the X window system


rxvt [options? [-e command [[ args?]


rxvt, version 2.6.4, is a colour vt102 terminal emulator intended as an xterm(1) replacement for users who do not require features such as Tektronix 4014 emulation and toolkit-style configurability. As a result, rxvt uses much less swap space -- a significant advantage on a machine serving many X sessions.


The rxvt options (mostly a subset of xterm's) are listed below. In keeping with the smaller-is-better philosophy, options may be eliminated or default values chosen at compile-time, so options and defaults listed may not accurately reflect the version installed on your system. ``rxvt -h gives a list of major compile-time options on the usage line. Option descriptions may be prefixed with which compile option each is dependent upon. e.g. ``Compile XIM: requires XIM on the usage line. Note: ``rxvt -help'' gives a list of all options compiled into your version.

Note that rxvt permits the resource name to be used as a long-option (--/++ option) so the potential command-line options are far greater than those listed. For example: ``rxvt --loginShell --color1 Orange''.

-help, --help

Print out a message describing available options.

-display displayname

Attempt to open a window on the named X display (-d still respected). In the absence of this option, the display specified by the DISPLAY environment variable is used.

-geometry geom

Window geometry (-g still respected); resource geometry.


Turn on/off simulated reverse video; resource reverseVideo.


Turn on/off inheriting parent window's pixmap. Alternative form is -tr; resource inheritPixmap.

-bg colour

Window background colour; resource background.

-fg colour

Window foreground colour; resource foreground.

-pixmap: file[;geom?

Compile XPM: Specify XPM file for the background and also optionally specify its scaling with a geometry string. Note you may need to add quotes to avoid special shell interpretation of the ``;'' in the command-line; resource backgroundPixmap.

-cr colour

The cursor colour; resource cursorColor.

-pr colour

The mouse pointer colour; resource pointerColor.

-bd colour

The colour of the border between the xterm scrollbar and the text; resource borderColor.

-fn fontname

Main normal text font; resource font.

-fb fontname

Main bold text font; resource boldFont.

-fm fontname

Main multicharacter font; resource mfont.

-km mode

Multiple-character font-set encoding mode; eucj: EUC Japanese encoding. sjis: Shift JIS encoding; resource multichar_encoding.

-grk mode

Greek keyboard translation; iso: ISO-8859 mapping. ibm: IBM-437 mapping; resource greek_keyboard.

-name name

Specify the application name under which resources are to be obtained, rather than the default executable file name. Name should not contain ``. or ``* characters. Also sets the icon and title name.


Start as a login-shell/sub-shell; resource loginShell.


Compile utmp: Inhibit/enable writing a utmp entry; resource utmpInhibit.


Turn on/off visual bell on receipt of a bell character; resource visualBell.


Turn on/off scrollbar; resource scrollBar.


Turn on/off scroll-to-bottom on TTY output inhibit; resource scrollTtyOutput has opposite effect.


Turn on/off scroll-to-bottom on keypress; resource scrollTtyKeypress.


Put scrollbar on right/left; resource scrollBar_right.


Display normal (non XTerm/NeXT) scrollbar without/with a trough; resource scrollBar_floating.


Start iconified, if the window manager supports that option. Alternative form is -ic.

-sl number

Save number lines in the scrollback buffer; resource saveLines.

-tn termname

This option specifies the name of the terminal type to be set in the TERM environment variable. This terminal type must exist in the termcap(5) database and should have li# and co# entries; resource termName.

-im method

This option specifies the input method to use; resource inputMethod.

-e command [arguments?

Run the command with its command-line arguments in the rxvt window; also sets the window title and icon name to be the basename of the program being executed if neither -title (-T) nor -n are given on the command line. If this option is used, it must be the last on the command-line. If there is no -e option then the default is to run the program specified by the SHELL environment variable or, failing that, sh(1).

-title text

Window title (-T still respected); the default title is the basename of the program specified after the -e option, if any, otherwise the application name; resource title.

-n text

Icon name; the default name is the basename of the program specified after the -e option, if any, otherwise the application name; resource iconName.


Capture system console messages.

-pt style

Compile XIM: input style for input method; !OverTheSpot?, !OffTheSpot?, Root; resource preeditType.

-im text

Compile XIM: input method name. resource inputMethod.

-mod modifier

Override detection of Meta modifier with specified key: alt, meta, hyper, super, mod1, mod2, mod3, mod4, mod5; resource modifier.

-xrm resourcestring

No effect on rxvt. Simply passes through an argument to be made available in the instance's argument list. Appears in WM_COMMAND in some window managers.

RESOURCES (available also as long-options)

Note: ``rxvt --help gives a list of all resources (long options) compiled into your version. If compiled with internal Xresources support (i.e. rxvt -h lists .Xdefaults) then rxvt accepts application defaults set in XAPPLOADDIR/Rxvt (compile-time defined: usually /usr/lib/X11/app-defaults/Rxvt) and resources set in /.Xdefaults, or /.Xresources if /.Xdefaults does not exist. Note that when reading X resources, rxvt recognizes two class names: XTerm and Rxvt. The class name XTerm allows resources common to both rxvt and xterm'' to be easily configured, while the class name Rxvt allows resources unique to rxvt, notably colours and key-handling, to be shared between different rxvt configurations. If no resources are specified, suitable defaults will be used. Command-line arguments can be used to override resource settings. The following resources are allowed:

geometry: geom

Create the window with the specified X window geometry [default 80x24?; option -geometry.

background: colour

Use the specified colour as the window's background colour [default White?; option -bg.

foreground: colour

Use the specified colour as the window's foreground colour [default Black?; option -fg.

colorn: colour

Use the specified colour for the colour value n, where 0-7 corresponds to low-intensity (normal) colours and 8-15 corresponds to high-intensity (bold = bright foreground, blink = bright background) colours. The canonical names are as follows: 0=black, 1=red, 2=green, 3=yellow, 4=blue, 5=magenta, 6=cyan, 7=white, but the actual colour names used are listed in the COLORS AND GRAPHICS section.

colorBD: colour

Use the specified colour to display bold characters when the foreground colour is the default.

colorUL: colour

Use the specified colour to display underlined characters when the foreground colour is the default.

cursorColor: colour

Use the specified colour for the cursor. The default is to use the foreground colour; option -cr.

cursorColor2: colour

Use the specified colour for the colour of the cursor text. For this to take effect, cursorColor must also be specified. The default is to use the background colour.

reverseVideo: boolean

True: simulate reverse video by foreground and background colours; option -rv, False: regular screen colours [default?; option +rv. See note in COLORS AND GRAPHICS section.

inheritPixmap: boolean

True: make the background inherit the parent windows' pixmap, giving artificial transparency. False: do not inherit the parent windows' pixmap.

scrollColor: colour

Use the specified colour for the scrollbar [[default

  1. B2B2B2].

troughColor: colour

Use the specified colour for the scrollbar's trough area [default #969696?. Only relevant for normal (non XTerm/NeXT) scrollbar.

backgroundPixmap: file[;geom?

Use the specified XPM file (note the ``.xpm extension is optional) for the background and also optionally specify its scaling with a geometry string WxH+X+Y, in which ``W / ``H specify the horizontal/vertical scale (percent) and __``X / ``Y''__ locate the image centre (percent). A scale of 0 displays the image with tiling. A scale of 1 displays the image without any scaling. A scale of 2 to 9 specifies an integer number of images in that direction. No image will be magnified beyond 10 times its original size. The maximum permitted scale is 1000.

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