Introduction to rxvt-unicode

rxvt-unicode is a clone of the terminal emulator rxvt, an X Window System terminal emulator which includes support for XFT and Unicode.

This package is known to build and work properly using an LFS 12.1 platform.



Please be aware that rxvt-unicode is affected by an issue in perl where the SIGFPE handler is set to SIG_IGN (i.e. the signal is ignored). If you are building an LFS system from within urxvt and running the test suites, tests in bash and check which test raising this signal will fail.

Package Information

rxvt-unicode Dependencies


libptytty-2.0 and a graphical environment


gdk-pixbuf-2.42.10 (for background images) and startup-notification-0.12

Installation of rxvt-unicode

Install rxvt-unicode by running the following commands:

./configure --prefix=/usr --enable-everything &&

This package does not come with a test suite.

Now, as the root user:

make install

Command Explanations

--enable-everything: Add support for all non-multichoice options. Details about the different options can be found in the file README.configure.

--disable-xft: Remove support for Xft fonts.

--disable-perl: Disable the embedded Perl interpreter.

--disable-afterimage: Remove support for libAfterImage.

Configuring rxvt-unicode

The rxvt-unicode terminal emulator uses the resource class URxvt and the resource name urxvt. You can add X resource definitions to a user's ~/.Xresources or ~/.Xdefaults files or to the system-wide /etc/X11/app-defaults/URxvt file. The following example will load the matcher Perl extension (assuming Perl support wasn't disabled), which enables a left button click to open an underlined URL in the specified browser, sets a background and foreground color and loads an Xft font (as the root user):

cat >> /etc/X11/app-defaults/URxvt << "EOF"
! Use the specified colour as the windows background colour [default white]
URxvt*background: black

! Use the specified colour as the windows foreground colour [default black]
URxvt*foreground: yellow

! Select the fonts to be used. This is a comma separated list of font names
URxvt*font: xft:Monospace:pixelsize=18

! Comma-separated list(s) of perl extension scripts (default: "default")
URxvt*perl-ext: matcher

! Specifies the program to be started with a URL argument. Used by
URxvt*url-launcher: firefox

! When clicked with the mouse button specified in the "matcher.button" resource
! (default 2, or middle), the program specified in the "matcher.launcher"
! resource (default, the "url-launcher" resource, "sensible-browser") will be
! started with the matched text as first argument.
! Below, default modified to mouse left button.
URxvt*matcher.button:     1

In order to view the defined X resources, issue:

xrdb -query

In order to add the modifications of the new user configuration file, keeping previously X configurations (of course, unless you are changing any on previously define), issue:

xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources

The rxvt-unicode application can also run in a daemon mode, which makes it possible to open multiple terminal windows within the same process. The urxvtc client then connects to the urxvtd daemon and requests a new terminal window. Use this option with caution. If the daemon crashes, all the running processes in the terminal windows are terminated.

You can start the urxvtd daemon in the system or personal startup X session script (e.g., ~/.xinitrc) by adding the following lines near the top of the script:

# Start the urxvtd daemon
urxvtd -q -f -o &

For more information, examine the urxvt, urxvtd, urxvtc, and urxvtperl man pages.

If you use a Desktop Environment, a menu entry can be included, issuing, as the root user:

cat > /usr/share/applications/urxvt.desktop << "EOF" &&
[Desktop Entry]
Name=Rxvt-Unicode Terminal
Comment=Use the command line
Keywords=console;command line;execute;

update-desktop-database -q

For that, you need desktop-file-utils-0.27 and at least one of gnome-icon-theme-3.12.0, oxygen-icons-5.115.0 and lxde-icon-theme-0.5.1. Uncomment the line with StartupNotify=true if startup-notification-0.12 is installed.


Installed Programs: urxvt, urxvtd, and urxvtc
Installed Libraries: Many Perl extensions located under /usr/lib/urxvt/perl
Installed Directory: /usr/lib/urxvt

Short Descriptions


is a terminal emulator for the X Window System


is the urxvt terminal daemon


controls the urxvtd daemon