8.29. Ncurses-6.4-20230520

The Ncurses package contains libraries for terminal-independent handling of character screens.

Approximate build time: 0.2 SBU
Required disk space: 45 MB

8.29.1. Installation of Ncurses

Prepare Ncurses for compilation:

./configure --prefix=/usr           \
            --mandir=/usr/share/man \
            --with-shared           \
            --without-debug         \
            --without-normal        \
            --with-cxx-shared       \
            --enable-pc-files       \
            --enable-widec          \

The meaning of the new configure options:


This makes Ncurses build and install shared C libraries.


This prevents Ncurses building and installing static C libraries.


This prevents Ncurses building and installing debug libraries.


This makes Ncurses build and install shared C++ bindings. It also prevents it building and installing static C++ bindings.


This switch generates and installs .pc files for pkg-config.


This switch causes wide-character libraries (e.g., libncursesw.so.6.4) to be built instead of normal ones (e.g., libncurses.so.6.4). These wide-character libraries are usable in both multibyte and traditional 8-bit locales, while normal libraries work properly only in 8-bit locales. Wide-character and normal libraries are source-compatible, but not binary-compatible.

Compile the package:


This package has a test suite, but it can only be run after the package has been installed. The tests reside in the test/ directory. See the README file in that directory for further details.

The installation of this package will overwrite libncursesw.so.6.4 in-place. It may crash the shell process which is using code and data from the library file. Install the package with DESTDIR, and replace the library file correctly using install command (the header curses.h is also edited to ensure the wide-character ABI to be used as what we've done in Section 6.3, “Ncurses-6.4-20230520”):

make DESTDIR=$PWD/dest install
install -vm755 dest/usr/lib/libncursesw.so.6.4 /usr/lib
rm -v  dest/usr/lib/libncursesw.so.6.4
sed -e 's/^#if.*XOPEN.*$/#if 1/' \
    -i dest/usr/include/curses.h
cp -av dest/* /

Many applications still expect the linker to be able to find non-wide-character Ncurses libraries. Trick such applications into linking with wide-character libraries by means of symlinks (note that the .so links are only safe with curses.h edited to always use the wide-character ABI):

for lib in ncurses form panel menu ; do
    ln -sfv lib${lib}w.so /usr/lib/lib${lib}.so
    ln -sfv ${lib}w.pc    /usr/lib/pkgconfig/${lib}.pc

Finally, make sure that old applications that look for -lcurses at build time are still buildable:

ln -sfv libncursesw.so /usr/lib/libcurses.so

If desired, install the Ncurses documentation:

cp -v -R doc -T /usr/share/doc/ncurses-6.4-20230520


The instructions above don't create non-wide-character Ncurses libraries since no package installed by compiling from sources would link against them at runtime. However, the only known binary-only applications that link against non-wide-character Ncurses libraries require version 5. If you must have such libraries because of some binary-only application or to be compliant with LSB, build the package again with the following commands:

make distclean
./configure --prefix=/usr    \
            --with-shared    \
            --without-normal \
            --without-debug  \
            --without-cxx-binding \
make sources libs
cp -av lib/lib*.so.5* /usr/lib

8.29.2. Contents of Ncurses

Installed programs: captoinfo (link to tic), clear, infocmp, infotocap (link to tic), ncursesw6-config, reset (link to tset), tabs, tic, toe, tput, and tset
Installed libraries: libcurses.so (symlink), libform.so (symlink), libformw.so, libmenu.so (symlink), libmenuw.so, libncurses.so (symlink), libncursesw.so, libncurses++w.so, libpanel.so (symlink), and libpanelw.so,
Installed directories: /usr/share/tabset, /usr/share/terminfo, and /usr/share/doc/ncurses-6.4-20230520

Short Descriptions


Converts a termcap description into a terminfo description


Clears the screen, if possible


Compares or prints out terminfo descriptions


Converts a terminfo description into a termcap description


Provides configuration information for ncurses


Reinitializes a terminal to its default values


Clears and sets tab stops on a terminal


The terminfo entry-description compiler that translates a terminfo file from source format into the binary format needed for the ncurses library routines [A terminfo file contains information on the capabilities of a certain terminal.]


Lists all available terminal types, giving the primary name and description for each


Makes the values of terminal-dependent capabilities available to the shell; it can also be used to reset or initialize a terminal or report its long name


Can be used to initialize terminals


Contains functions to display text in many complex ways on a terminal screen; a good example of the use of these functions is the menu displayed during the kernel's make menuconfig


Contains C++ binding for other libraries in this package


Contains functions to implement forms


Contains functions to implement menus


Contains functions to implement panels