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xrootconsole — display a file (or stdin) to a transparent window


xrootconsole [options] [file]


xrootconsole is a small utility which displays its input in a transparent text box on X's
root window. It will read from any file listed on the command line or, by default, from
stdin. It is most useful when it reads from a FIFO; this allows you to redirect multiple
commands to the FIFO and monitor their output.

The options are as follows:

-fg color This option specifies the color to use for displaying text. The default is

-bg color This option specifies the color to AND with the root window, for shaded
transparency. The default is “clear.”

-bw number This option specifies the width of the border around xrootconsole in pixels.
The default is 0.

-bd color This option specifies the color to use for the border of the window. The
default is “black.”

-fn font This option specifies the font to use for displaying text. The default is

-c number This option produces output that is number columns wide. Text is written
vertically down each column in the order in which text is received from the
input file. The default is 1.

--topdown Forces xrootconsole to display new lines from its input at the top of the
screen, scrolling previous lines down. Default behavior is to insert new lines
at the bottom and scroll the previous lines up.

--wrap Rather than truncating long lines, this option specifies that xrootconsole
should wrap excess text to the following line or lines, as necessary.

Enable color support by parsing ANSI escape sequences.

-geometry geometry
This option specifies the preferred size and position of the window; see X(1).
The default is “80x10+0+0.”

-h, --help Displays a detailed usage message and exits.

-v, --version
Displays the program version and exits.

file Optionally specifies a file from which to read input; by default, xrootconsole
reads from the standard input.


Exit status is 0 on success, and 1 if the command fails for any reason.


Eric Youngblut is the original author of xrootconsole. Bob Galloway ⟨[email protected]⟩ is the
current maintainer. Alexandre Duret-Lutz eliminated flicker by storing the background
pixmap and drawing off-screen. This manual page was written by Zak Johnson ⟨[email protected]⟩.

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