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Commands Reference, Volume 6

xset Command


Sets options for your X-Windows environment.


xset-display Display ] [  Volume Pitch Duration  ] ] ] |  -b |   b on b off ] [  bc -bc  c   [  Volume ]  |   -c |   c on |   c off ] [ fp ] Path [ ,Path [  ... ] ] ] [  fp default ] [  fp rehash  ] [ [ led Integer ] ] [  led on  led off ] [  Accelerator  ] [ Threshold ] ] ] [  ouse default ] [  p  Pixel Color ] [ ] [  r on r off ] [  Length Period ] ] ] [  s blank  s noblank ] [  expose |   noexpose ] [  s on |   s off ] [  s activate ] [  s reset ] [  s default ] [  ]


The xset command customizes your X-Windows environment.


-display Host:Display Specifies the X server to use. For more information about servers, see the X command.
b or b on Turns the bell on. This is the default setting.

Note: Not all hardware is able to vary the bell characteristics, but for that which can, all of the b flag permutations and its variables are available.
b [Volume [Pitch [Duration] ] ]
                          Specifies the bell volume, pitch, and duration. This flag accepts up to three numeric values.

If only one numeric is given then it is assumed to be Volume. The bell volume is set to that numeric as a percentage of the bell's maximum possible volume dependent on current hardware capabilities.

The second numeric in hertz values, is the tonal sound of the bell.

The third numeric in milliseconds, is the length of time that the bell rings.
-b or b off Turns the bell off.
bc or -bc Controls bug compatibility mode in the server, if possible. A preceding - (dash) disables this mode; otherwise, bug compatibility mode is enabled. The server must support the MIT-SUNDRY-NONSTANDARD protocol extension for the bc flag to work.

New application development should be performed with bug compatibility mode disabled.

The bc flag is provided for pre-X11 Release 4 (X11R4) clients. Some pre-X11R4 clients pass illegal values in various protocol requests. Such clients, when run with an X11R4 server, end abnormally or otherwise fail to operate correctly.

This flag explicitly reintroduces certain bugs into the X server so that such clients still can be run.

c or c on Turns on the click. System default.
c Volume A numeric from 0 to 100 that specifies a percentage of the click's maximum possible volume dependent on current hardware capabilities.
-c or c off Turns off the click.
fp=Path,... Sets the font path to the directories given in the Path parameter. The directories are interpreted by the server, not by the client, and are server-dependent. The server ignores directories that do not contain font databases created by the mkfontdir command. All of the options and variables supported by the fp flag are available.
fp- or -fp Deletes the font path specified by the Path parameter from the end of the current font path if the - (dash) precedes fp and from the front of the font path if the - (dash) follows fp.
fp+ or +fp Adds the font path specified by the Path parameter to the bottom of font list if the - (dash) precedes fp and from the end of the font path if the - (dash) follows fp.
fp default Resets the font path to the server's default.
fp rehash Causes the server to reread the font databases in the current font path. Usually used only when adding new fonts to a font directory after running mkfontdir to recreate the font database.
led orled on Turns all LEDs on.
-led Integer Turns the LED specified by Integer off. Valid values are between 1 and 32.
led Integer Turns the LED specified by Integer on. Valid values are between 1 and 32.
-led or led off Turns all LEDs off.

Note: Not all hardware assigns the same Integer variables to the same LED functions.
m Allows you to control the precision of the mouse or other pointing device. If no variable or the default argument is specified, the system defaults are used. This flag accepts the following optional arguments and parameters:

Sets the multiplier for the mouse movement. The value can be specified as an integer or a fraction.

Sets the minimum number of pixels needed to invoke a movement of the mouse. The value is specified in pixels.

If only one parameter is given, it will be interpreted as the Acceleration parameter.

Uses the system defaults.
p Controls pixel color values. The root background colors may be changed on some servers by altering the entries for BlackPixel and WhitePixel. Although these values are often 0 and 1, they need not be.

Also, a server may choose to allocate those colors privately, in which case the xset command generates an error. The xset command also generates an error if the map entry is a read-only color.

Valid parameters are:

Specifies the color map entry number in decimal.

Specifies a color.
r or r on Enables autorepeat.
-r or r off Disables autorepeat.
s or s default Sets screen saver parameters to the default screen-saver characteristics.
s [Length[Period]] Specifies the length of time the server must be inactive for the screen saver to activate. Period specifies the period in which the background pattern must be changed to avoid burn in. The values of Length and Period are specified in seconds. If only one numerical parameter is given, it is read as a Length parameter.
s on or s off Turns the screen saver functions on and off, respectively.
s activate Causes the screen saver to activate, even if it has been turned off.
s reset Causes the screen saver to deactivate if it was activated.
s blank Sets the preference to blank the video (if the hardware can do so) rather than display a background pattern.
s noblank Sets the preference to display a pattern rather than blank the video.
s expose Sets the preference to allow window exposures (the server can freely discard window contents).
s noexpose Sets the preference to disable screen saver unless the server can regenerate the screens without causing exposure events.
q Reports information on the current settings.

These settings will be reset to default values when you log out.

Note: Not all X implementations are guaranteed to honor all of these options.


  1. To set the bell volume to medium, the tone to 50 hertz, and length of time the bell rings to 50 milliseconds:

    xset b 50,50,50
  2. To set the font path to the /usr/lib/X11/fonts directory:

    xset fp= /usr/lib/x11/fonts
  3. To cause the server to reread the font databases in the current font path:

    xset fp rehash
  4. To see information on the current settings:

    xset q

    which produces output similar to the following:

    Keyboard Control:
      auto repeat:  on    key click percent:  0    LED mask:  00000000
      auto repeating keys:  0000000000000000
      bell percent:  50    bell pitch:  400    bell duration:  100
    Pointer Control:
      acceleration:  2 = 2 / 1    threshold:  4
    Screen Saver:
      prefer blanking:  no    allow exposures:  no
      timeout:  0    cycle:  0
      default colormap:  0x8006e    BlackPixel:  0    WhitePixel:  1
    Font Path:

Related Information

The X command, xmodmap command, xrdb command, xsetroot command.

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