CONSOLE_CODES(4) Linux Programmer's Manual CONSOLE_CODES(4)
console_codes - Linux console escape and control sequences
The Linux console implements a large subset of the VT102 and
ECMA-48/ISO 6429/ANSI X3.64 terminal controls, plus certain private-
mode sequences for changing the color palette, character-set mapping,
etc. In the tabular descriptions below, the second column gives
ECMA-48 or DEC mnemonics (the latter if prefixed with DEC) for the
given function. Sequences without a mnemonic are neither ECMA-48 nor
After all the normal output processing has been done, and a stream of
characters arrives at the console driver for actual printing, the first
thing that happens is a translation from the code used for processing
to the code used for printing.
If the console is in UTF-8 mode, then the incoming bytes are first
assembled into 16-bit Unicode codes. Otherwise each byte is trans-
formed according to the current mapping table (which translates it to a
Unicode value). See the CHARACTER SETS section below for discussion.
In the normal case, the Unicode value is converted to a font index, and
this is stored in video memory, so that the corresponding glyph (as
found in video ROM) appears on the screen. Note that the use of Uni-
code (and the design of the PC hardware) allows us to use 512 different
If the current Unicode value is a control character, or we are cur-
rently processing an escape sequence, the value will treated specially.
Instead of being turned into a font index and rendered as a glyph, it
may trigger cursor movement or other control functions. See the LINUX
CONSOLE CONTROLS section below for discussion.
It is generally not good practice to hard-wire terminal controls into
programs. Linux supports a terminfo(5) database of terminal capabili-
ties. Rather than emitting console escape sequences by hand, you will
almost always want to use a terminfo-aware screen library or utility
such as ncurses(3), tput(1), or reset(1).
LINUX CONSOLE CONTROLS
This section describes all the control characters and escape sequences
that invoke special functions (i.e. anything other than writing a glyph
at the current cursor location) on the Linux console.
A character is a control character if (before transformation according
to the mapping table) it has one of the 14 codes 00 (NUL), 07 (BEL), 08
(BS), 09 (HT), 0a (LF), 0b (VT), 0c (FF), 0d (CR), 0e (SO), 0f (SI), 18
(CAN), 1a (SUB), 1b (ESC), 7f (DEL). One can set a `display control
characters' mode (see below), and allow 07, 09, 0b, 18, 1a, 7f to be
displayed as glyphs. On the other hand, in UTF-8 mode all codes 00-1f
are regarded as control characters, regardless of any `display control
If we have a control character, it is acted upon immediately and then
discarded (even in the middle of an escape sequence) and the escape
sequence continues with the next character. (However, ESC starts a new
escape sequence, possibly aborting a previous unfinished one, and CAN
and SUB abort any escape sequence.) The recognized control characters
are BEL, BS, HT, LF, VT, FF, CR, SO, SI, CAN, SUB, ESC, DEL, CSI. They
do what one would expect:
BEL (0x07, ^G) beeps;
BS (0x08, ^H) backspaces one column (but not past the beginning of the
HT (0x09, ^I) goes to the next tab stop or to the end of the line if
there is no earlier tab stop;
LF (0x0A, ^J), VT (0x0B, ^K) and FF (0x0C, ^L) all give a linefeed;
CR (0x0D, ^M) gives a carriage return;
SO (0x0E, ^N) activates the G1 character set, and if LF/NL (new line
mode) is set also a carriage return;
SI (0x0F, ^O) activates the G0 character set;
CAN (0x18, ^X) and SUB (0x1A, ^Z) interrupt escape sequences;
ESC (0x1B, ^[) starts an escape sequence;
DEL (0x7F) is ignored;
CSI (0x9B) is equivalent to ESC [.
ESC- but not CSI-sequences
l l l. ESC c RIS Reset. ESC D IND Linefeed. ESC
E NEL Newline. ESC H HTS Set tab stop at current column.
ESC M RI Reverse linefeed. ESC Z DECID DEC private identi-
fication. The kernel returns the string ESC [ ? 6 c, claim-
ing that it is a VT102. ESC 7 DECSC Save current
state (cursor coordinates, attributes, character sets pointed
at by G0, G1). ESC 8 DECRC Restore state most recently saved
by ESC 7. ESC [ CSI Control sequence introducer ESC
% Start sequence selecting character set ESC %
@ Select default (ISO 646 / ISO 8859-1) ESC %
G Select UTF-8 ESC % 8 Select UTF-8 (obsolete) ESC
# 8 DECALN DEC screen alignment test - fill screen with E's. ESC
( Start sequence defining G0 character set ESC (
B Select default (ISO 8859-1 mapping) ESC (
0 Select vt100 graphics mapping ESC ( U Select null
mapping - straight to character ROM ESC ( K Select user map-
ping - the map that is loaded by the utility mapscrn(8).
ESC ) Start sequence defining G1 (followed by one of
B, 0, U, K, as above). ESC > DECPNM Set numeric keypad mode ESC
= DECPAM Set application keypad mode ESC ] OSC (Should be:
Operating system command) ESC ] P nrrggbb: set palette, with
parameter given in 7 hexadecimal digits after the final P
:-(. Here n is the color (0-15), and rrggbb indicates
the red/green/blue values (0-255). ESC ] R: reset
ECMA-48 CSI sequences
CSI (or ESC [) is followed by a sequence of parameters, at most NPAR
(16), that are decimal numbers separated by semicolons. An empty or
absent parameter is taken to be 0. The sequence of parameters may be
preceded by a single question mark.
However, after CSI [ (or ESC [ [) a single character is read and this
entire sequence is ignored. (The idea is to ignore an echoed function
The action of a CSI sequence is determined by its final character.
l l l. @ ICH Insert the indicated # of blank characters.
A CUU Move cursor up the indicated # of rows. B CUD Move cur-
sor down the indicated # of rows. C CUF Move cursor right the
indicated # of columns. D CUB Move cursor left the indicated # of
columns. E CNL Move cursor down the indicated # of rows, to column
1. F CPL Move cursor up the indicated # of rows, to column 1.
G CHA Move cursor to indicated column in current row.
H CUP Move cursor to the indicated row, column (origin at 1,1).
J ED Erase display (default: from cursor to end of display).
ESC [ 1 J: erase from start to cursor. ESC [ 2 J:
erase whole display. K EL Erase line (default: from cursor to end
of line). ESC [ 1 K: erase from start of line to cursor.
ESC [ 2 K: erase whole line. L IL Insert the indicated
# of blank lines. M DL Delete the indicated # of lines.
P DCH Delete the indicated # of characters on the current line.
X ECH Erase the indicated # of characters on the current line.
a HPR Move cursor right the indicated # of columns.
c DA Answer ESC [ ? 6 c: `I am a VT102'. d VPA Move cursor to
the indicated row, current column. e VPR Move cursor down the
indicated # of rows. f HVP Move cursor to the indicated row, col-
umn. g TBC Without parameter: clear tab stop at the current posi-
tion. ESC [ 3 g: delete all tab stops. h SM Set Mode
(see below). l RM Reset Mode (see below). m SGR Set
attributes (see below). n DSR Status report (see below).
q DECLL Set keyboard LEDs. ESC [ 0 q: clear all LEDs
ESC [ 1 q: set Scroll Lock LED ESC [ 2 q: set Num
Lock LED ESC [ 3 q: set Caps Lock LED r DECSTBM Set
scrolling region; parameters are top and bottom row. s ? Save
cursor location. u ? Restore cursor location. ` HPA Move
cursor to indicated column in current row.
ECMA-48 Set Graphics Rendition
The ECMA-48 SGR sequence ESC [ <parameters> m sets display attributes.
Several attributes can be set in the same sequence.
l l. par result 0 reset all attributes to their defaults 1 set
bold 2 set half-bright (simulated with color on a color display)
4 set underscore (simulated with color on a color display) (the
colors used to simulate dim or underline are set using ESC ] ...)
5 set blink 7 set reverse video 10 reset selected mapping, dis-
play control flag, and toggle meta flag. 11 select null map-
ping, set display control flag, reset toggle meta flag.
12 select null mapping, set display control flag, set toggle
meta flag. (The toggle meta flag causes the high bit of a byte to
be toggled before the mapping table translation is done.)
21 set normal intensity (this is not compatible with ECMA-48)
22 set normal intensity 24 underline off 25 blink off
27 reverse video off 30 set black foreground 31 set red fore-
ground 32 set green foreground 33 set brown foreground 34 set
blue foreground 35 set magenta foreground 36 set cyan foreground
37 set white foreground 38 set underscore on, set default fore-
ground color 39 set underscore off, set default foreground color
40 set black background 41 set red background 42 set green back-
ground 43 set brown background 44 set blue background 45 set
magenta background 46 set cyan background 47 set white background
49 set default background color
ECMA-48 Mode Switches
ESC [ 3 h
DECCRM (default off): Display control chars.
ESC [ 4 h
DECIM (default off): Set insert mode.
ESC [ 20 h
LF/NL (default off): Automatically follow echo of LF, VT or FF
ECMA-48 Status Report Commands
ESC [ 5 n
Device status report (DSR): Answer is ESC [ 0 n (Terminal OK).
ESC [ 6 n
Cursor position report (CPR): Answer is ESC [ y ; x R, where x,y
is the cursor location.
DEC Private Mode (DECSET/DECRST) sequences.
These are not described in ECMA-48. We list the Set Mode sequences;
the Reset Mode sequences are obtained by replacing the final `h' by
ESC [ ? 1 h
DECCKM (default off): When set, the cursor keys send an ESC O
prefix, rather than ESC [.
ESC [ ? 3 h
DECCOLM (default off = 80 columns): 80/132 col mode switch. The
driver sources note that this alone does not suffice; some user-
mode utility such as resizecons(8) has to change the hardware
registers on the console video card.
ESC [ ? 5 h
DECSCNM (default off): Set reverse-video mode.
ESC [ ? 6 h
DECOM (default off): When set, cursor addressing is relative to
the upper left corner of the scrolling region.
ESC [ ? 7 h
DECAWM (default on): Set autowrap on. In this mode, a graphic
character emitted after column 80 (or column 132 of DECCOLM is
on) forces a wrap to the beginning of the following line first.
ESC [ ? 8 h
DECARM (default on): Set keyboard autorepreat on.
ESC [ ? 9 h
X10 Mouse Reporting (default off): Set reporting mode to 1 (or
reset to 0) - see below.
ESC [ ? 25 h
DECCM (default on): Make cursor visible.
ESC [ ? 1000 h
X11 Mouse Reporting (default off): Set reporting mode to 2 (or
reset to 0) - see below.
Linux Console Private CSI Sequences
The following sequences are neither ECMA-48 nor native VT102. They are
native to the Linux console driver. Colors are in SGR parameters: 0 =
black, 1 = red, 2 = green, 3 = brown, 4 = blue, 5 = magenta, 6 = cyan,
7 = white.
l l. ESC [ 1 ; n ] Set color n as the underline color ESC [ 2 ; n
] Set color n as the dim color ESC [ 8 ] Make the current
color pair the default attributes. ESC [ 9 ; n ] Set screen blank
timeout to n minutes. ESC [ 10 ; n ] Set bell frequency in Hz. ESC [
11 ; n ] Set bell duration in msec. ESC [ 12 ; n ] Bring specified
console to the front. ESC [ 13 ] Unblank the screen. ESC [
14 ; n ] Set the VESA powerdown interval in minutes.
The kernel knows about 4 translations of bytes into console-screen sym-
bols. The four tables are: a) Latin1 -> PC, b) VT100 graphics -> PC,
c) PC -> PC, d) user-defined.
There are two character sets, called G0 and G1, and one of them is the
current character set. (Initially G0.) Typing ^N causes G1 to become
current, ^O causes G0 to become current.
These variables G0 and G1 point at a translation table, and can be
changed by the user. Initially they point at tables a) and b), respec-
tively. The sequences ESC ( B and ESC ( 0 and ESC ( U and ESC ( K
cause G0 to point at translation table a), b), c) and d), respectively.
The sequences ESC ) B and ESC ) 0 and ESC ) U and ESC ) K cause G1 to
point at translation table a), b), c) and d), respectively.
The sequence ESC c causes a terminal reset, which is what you want if
the screen is all garbled. The oft-advised "echo ^V^O" will only make
G0 current, but there is no guarantee that G0 points at table a). In
some distributions there is a program reset(1) that just does "echo
^[c". If your terminfo entry for the console is correct (and has an
entry rs1=\Ec), then "tput reset" will also work.
The user-defined mapping table can be set using mapscrn(8). The result
of the mapping is that if a symbol c is printed, the symbol s = map[c]
is sent to the video memory. The bitmap that corresponds to s is found
in the character ROM, and can be changed using setfont(8).
The mouse tracking facility is intended to return xterm-compatible
mouse status reports. Because the console driver has no way to know
the device or type of the mouse, these reports are returned in the con-
sole input stream only when the virtual terminal driver receives a
mouse update ioctl. These ioctls must be generated by a mouse-aware
user-mode application such as the gpm(8) daemon.
Parameters for all mouse tracking escape sequences generated by xterm
encode numeric parameters in a single character as value+040. For
example, `!' is 1. The screen coordinate system is 1-based.
The X10 compatibility mode sends an escape sequence on button press
encoding the location and the mouse button pressed. It is enabled by
sending ESC [ ? 9 h and disabled with ESC [ ? 9 l. On button press,
xterm sends ESC [ M bxy (6 characters). Here b is button-1, and x and
y are the x and y coordinates of the mouse when the button was pressed.
This is the same code the kernel also produces.
Normal tracking mode (not implemented in Linux 2.0.24) sends an escape
sequence on both button press and release. Modifier information is
also sent. It is enabled by sending ESC [ ? 1000 h and disabled with
ESC [ 1000 l. On button press or release, xterm sends ESC [ M bxy.
The low two bits of b encode button information: 0=MB1 pressed, 1=MB2
pressed, 2=MB3 pressed, 3=release. The upper bits encode what modi-
fiers were down when the button was pressed and are added together:
4=Shift, 8=Meta, 16=Control. Again x and y are the x and y coordinates
of the mouse event. The upper left corner is (1,1).
COMPARISONS WITH OTHER TERMINALS
Many different terminal types are described, like the Linux console, as
being `VT100-compatible'. Here we discuss differences vbetween the
Linux console an the two most important others, the DEC VT102 and
The vt102 also recognized the following control characters:
NUL (0x00) was ignored;
ENQ (0x05) triggered an answerback message;
DC1 (0x11, ^Q, XON) resumed transmission;
DC3 (0x13, ^S, XOFF) caused vt100 to ignore (and stop transmitting) all
codes except XOFF and XON.
VT100-like DC1/DC3 processing may be enabled by the tty driver.
The xterm program (in vt100 mode) recognizes the control characters
BEL, BS, HT, LF, VT, FF, CR, SO, SI, ESC.
VT100 console sequences not implemented on the Linux console:
l l l. ESC N SS2 Single shift 2. (Select G2 character set for the
next character only.) ESC O SS3 Single shift 3. (Select
G3 character set for the next character only.) ESC
P DCS Device control string (ended by ESC \) ESC X SOS Start
of string. ESC ^ PM Privacy message (ended by ESC \) ESC
\ ST String terminator ESC * ... Designate G2 character set
ESC + ... Designate G3 character set
The program xterm (in vt100 mode) recognizes ESC c, ESC # 8, ESC >, ESC
=, ESC D, ESC E, ESC H, ESC M, ESC N, ESC O, ESC P ... ESC ESC Z (it
answers ESC [ ? 1 ; 2 c, `I am a vt100 with advanced video option') and
ESC ^ ... ESC with the same meanings as indicated above. It accepts
ESC (, ESC ), ESC *, ESC + followed by 0, A, B for the DEC special
character and line drawing set, UK, and USASCII, respectively. It
accepts ESC ] for the setting of certain resources:
l l. ESC ] 0 ; txt BEL Set icon name and window title to txt. ESC ]
1 ; txt BEL Set icon name to txt. ESC ] 2 ; txt BEL Set window
title to txt. ESC ] 4 6 ; name BEL Change log file to name (nor-
mally disabled by a compile-time option) ESC ] 5 0 ; fn BEL Set
font to fn.
It recognizes the following with slightly modified meaning:
l l l. ESC 7 DECSC Save cursor ESC 8 DECRC Restore cursor
It also recognizes
l l l. ESC F Cursor to lower left corner of screen (if
enabled by the hpLowerleftBugCompat resource) ESC
l Memory lock (per HP terminals). Locks memory
above the cursor. ESC m Memory unlock (per HP terminals).
ESC n LS2 Invoke the G2 character set. ESC o LS3 Invoke the G3
character set. ESC | LS3R Invoke the G3 character set as GR.
Has no visible effect in xterm. ESC } LS2R Invoke the G2
character set as GR. Has no visible effect in xterm. ESC
~ LS1R Invoke the G1 character set as GR. Has no visible
effect in xterm.
It does not recognize ESC % ...
The xterm program (as of XFree86 3.1.2G) does not recognize the blink
or invisible-mode SGRs. Stock X11R6 versions do not recognize the
color-setting SGRs. All other ECMA-48 CSI sequences recognized by
Linux are also recognized by xterm, and vice-versa.
The xterm program will recognize all of the DEC Private Mode sequences
listed above, but none of the Linux private-mode sequences. For dis-
cussion of xterm's own private-mode sequences, refer to the Xterm Con-
trol Sequences document by Edward Moy and Stephen Gildea, available
with the X distribution.
ESC 8 (DECRC) is not able to restore the character set changed with ESC
In 2.0.23, CSI is broken, and NUL is not ignored inside escape
console(4), console_ioctl(4), charsets(7)
Linux 1996-10-31 CONSOLE_CODES(4)