dialog - display dialog boxes from shell scripts
dialog --create-rc file
dialog common-options box-options
Dialog is a program that will let you to present a variety of questions or display mes-
sages using dialog boxes from a shell script. These types of dialog boxes are implemented
(though not all are necessarily compiled into dialog):
calendar, checklist, fselect, gauge, infobox, inputbox, menu, msgbox (message),
password, radiolist, tailbox, tailboxbg, textbox, timebox, and yesno (yes/no).
You can put more than one dialog box into a script:
- Use the --and-widget token to force Dialog to proceed to the next dialog unless you
have pressed ESC to cancel, or
- Simply add the tokens for the next dialog box, making a chain. Dialog stops chaining
when the return code from a dialog is nonzero, e.g., Cancel or No.
This gives you some control over the box dimensions when using auto sizing (speci-
fying 0 for height and width). It represents width / height. The default is 9,
which means 9 characters wide to every 1 line high.
Specifies a backtitle string to be displayed on the backdrop, at the top of the
--beep Sound the audible alarm each time the screen is refreshed.
Beep if input is interrupted, e.g., by a control/C.
--begin y x
Specify the position of the upper left corner of a dialog box on the screen.
Override the label used for "Cancel" buttons.
The screen will be cleared to the screen attribute on exit. This may be used
alone, without other options.
Interpret embedded "\Z" sequences in the dialog text by the follow character, which
tells dialog to set colors or video attributes: 0 through 7 are the ANSI used in
curses: black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan and white respectively.
Bold is set by 'b', reset by 'B'. Reverse is set by 'r', reset by 'R'. Underline
is set by 'u', reset by 'U'. The settings are cumulative, e.g., "\Zb\Z1" makes the
following text bright red. Restore normal settings with "\Zn".
Interpret embedded newlines in the dialog text as a newline on the screen. Other-
wise, dialog will only wrap lines where needed to fit inside the text box. Even
though you can control line breaks with this, dialog will still wrap any lines that
are too long for the width of the box. Without cr-wrap, the layout of your text
may be formatted to look nice in the source code of your script without affecting
the way it will look in the dialog.
When dialog supports run-time configuration, this can be used to dump a sample con-
figuration file to the file specified by file.
Make the default value of the yes/no box a No.
Set the default item in a menu box. Normally the first item in the box is the
Override the label used for "EXIT" buttons.
Show an extra button, between ok/cancel and help buttons.
Override the label used for "Extra" buttons.
--help Prints the help message to standard error. The help message is printed if no
options are given.
Show a help-button after ok/cancel buttons, i.e., in checklist, radiolist and menu
boxes. If --item-help is also given, on exit the return status will be the same as
for the "Ok" button, and the item-help text will be written to standard error after
the token "HELP". Otherwise, the return status will indicate that the Help button
was pressed, and no message printed.
Override the label used for "Help" buttons.
Ignore options that dialog does not recognize. Some well-known ones such as
"--icon" are ignored anyway, but this is a better choice for compatibility with
Interpret the tags data for checklist, radiolist and menu boxes adding a column
which is displayed in the bottom line of the screen, for the currently selected
Limit input strings to the given size. If not specified, the limit is 2000.
Suppress the "Cancel" button in checklist, inputbox and menu box modes. A script
can still test if the user pressed the ESC key to cancel to quit.
Normally dialog converts tabs to spaces and reduces multiple spaces to a single
space for text which is displayed in a message boxes, etc. Use this option to dis-
able that feature. Note that dialog will still wrap text, subject to the --cr-wrap
Tells dialog to put the tailboxbg box in the background, printing its process id to
standard error. SIGHUP is disabled for the background process.
Suppress shadows that would be drawn to the right and bottom of each dialog box.
Override the label used for "OK" buttons.
Direct output to the given file descriptor. Most dialog scripts write to the stan-
dard error, but error messages may also be written there, depending on your script.
Print the maximum size of dialog boxes, i.e., the screen size, to the standard
error. This may be used alone, without other options.
Prints the size of each dialog box to standard error.
Prints dialog's version to standard error. This may be used alone, without other
For checklist widgets, output result one line at a time, with no quoting. This
facilitates parsing by another program.
Specify a string that will separate the output on standard error from each widget.
This is used to simplify parsing the result of a dialog with several widgets. If
this option is not given, the default separator string is a tab character.
Draw a shadow to the right and bottom of each dialog box.
Check the resulting size of a dialog box before trying to use it, printing the
resulting size if it is larger than the screen. (This option is obsolete, since
all new-window calls are checked).
Sleep (delay) for the given number of seconds after processing a dialog box.
Direct output to the standard error. This is the default, since curses normally
writes screen updates to the standard output.
Direct output to the standard output.
Convert each tab character to one or more spaces. Otherwise, tabs are rendered
according to the curses library's interpretation.
Specify the number of spaces that a tab character occupies if the "--tab-correct"
option is given. The default is 8.
Timeout (exit with error code) if no user response within the given number of sec-
Specifies a title string to be displayed at the top of the dialog box.
--trim eliminate leading blanks, trim literal newlines and repeated blanks from message
Same as "--print-version".
All dialog boxes have at least three parameters:
text the caption or contents of the box.
the height of the dialog box.
the width of the dialog box.
Other parameters depend on the box type.
--calendar text height width day month year
A calendar box displays month, day and year in separately adjustable windows. If
the values for day, month or year are missing or negative, the current date's cor-
responding values are used. You can increment or decrement any of those using the
left-, up-, right- and down-arrows. Use vi-style h, j, k and l for moving around
the array of days in a month. Use tab or backtab to move between windows. If the
year is given as zero, the current date is used as an initial value. On exit, the
date is printed in the form day/month/year.
--checklist text height width list-height [ tag item status ] ...
A checklist box is similar to a menu box; there are multiple entries presented in
the form of a menu. Instead of choosing one entry among the entries, each entry
can be turned on or off by the user. The initial on/off state of each entry is
specified by status. On exit, a list of the tag strings of those entries that are
turned on will be printed on stderr.
--fselect filepath height width
The file-selection dialog displays a text-entry window in which you can type a
filename (or directory), and above that two windows with directory names and file-
Here filepath can be a filepath in which case the file and directory windows will
display the contents of the path and the text-entry window will contain the prese-
Use tab or arrow keys to move between the windows. Within the directory or file-
name windows, use the up/down arrow keys to scroll the current selection. Use the
space-bar to copy the current selection into the text-entry window.
Typing any printable characters switches focus to the text-entry window, entering
that character as well as scrolling the directory and filename windows to the clos-
Use a carriage return or the "OK" button to accept the current value in the text-
entry window, or the "Cancel" button to cancel.
--gauge text height width [percent]
A gauge box displays a meter along the bottom of the box. The meter indicates the
percentage. New percentages are read from standard input, one integer per line.
The meter is updated to reflect each new percentage. If stdin is XXX, then subse-
quent lines up to another XXX are used for a new prompt. The gauge exits when EOF
is reached on stdin.
The percent value denotes the initial percentage shown in the meter. If not speci-
fied, it is zero.
--infobox text height width
An info box is basically a message box. However, in this case, dialog will exit
immediately after displaying the message to the user. The screen is not cleared
when dialog exits, so that the message will remain on the screen until the calling
shell script clears it later. This is useful when you want to inform the user that
some operations are carrying on that may require some time to finish.
--inputbox text height width [init]
An input box is useful when you want to ask questions that require the user to
input a string as the answer. If init is supplied it is used to initialize the
input string. When entering the string, the BACKSPACE key can be used to correct
typing errors. If the input string is longer than can fit in the dialog box, the
input field will be scrolled. On exit, the input string will be printed on stderr.
--menu text height width menu-height [ tag item ] ...
As its name suggests, a menu box is a dialog box that can be used to present a list
of choices in the form of a menu for the user to choose. Choices are displayed in
the order given. Each menu entry consists of a tag string and an item string. The
tag gives the entry a name to distinguish it from the other entries in the menu.
The item is a short description of the option that the entry represents. The user
can move between the menu entries by pressing the UP/DOWN keys, the first letter of
the tag as a hot-key, or the number keys 1-9. There are menu-height entries dis-
played in the menu at one time, but the menu will be scrolled if there are more
entries than that. When dialog exits, the tag of the chosen menu entry will be
printed on stderr. If the --help-button option is given, the corresponding help
text will be printed if the user selects the help button.
--msgbox text height width
A message box is very similar to a yes/no box. The only difference between a mes-
sage box and a yes/no box is that a message box has only a single OK button. You
can use this dialog box to display any message you like. After reading the mes-
sage, the user can press the ENTER key so that dialog will exit and the calling
shell script can continue its operation.
--passwordbox text height width [init]
A password box is similar to an input box, except that the text the user enters is
not displayed. This is useful when prompting for passwords or other sensitive
information. Be aware that if anything is passed in "init", it will be visible in
the system's process table to casual snoopers. Also, it is very confusing to the
user to provide them with a default password they cannot see. For these reasons,
using "init" is highly discouraged.
--radiolist text height width list-height [ tag item status ] ...
A radiolist box is similar to a menu box. The only difference is that you can
indicate which entry is currently selected, by setting its status to on.
--tailbox file height width
Display text from a file in a dialog box, as in a "tail -f" command.
--tailboxbg file height width
Display text from a file in a dialog box as a background task, as in a "tail -f &"
Dialog treats the background task specially if there are other widgets (--and-wid-
get) on the screen concurrently. Until those widgets are closed (e.g., an "OK"),
dialog will perform all of the tailboxbg widgets in the same process, polling for
updates. You may use a tab to traverse between the widgets on the screen, and
close them individually, e.g., by pressing ENTER. Once the non-tailboxbg widgets
are closed, dialog forks a copy of itself into the background, and prints its
process id if the --no-kill option is given.
NOTE: Older versions of dialog forked immediately and attempted to update the
screen individually. Besides being bad for performance, it was unworkable. Some
older scripts may not work properly with the polled scheme.
--textbox file height width
A text box lets you display the contents of a text file in a dialog box. It is
like a simple text file viewer. The user can move through the file by using the
UP/DOWN, PGUP/PGDN and HOME/END keys available on most keyboards. If the lines are
too long to be displayed in the box, the LEFT/RIGHT keys can be used to scroll the
text region horizontally. You may also use vi-style keys h, j, k, l in place of
the cursor keys, and B or N in place of the pageup/pagedown keys. For more conve-
nience, vi-style forward and backward searching functions are also provided.
--timebox text height [width hour minute second]
A dialog is displayed which allows you to select hour, minute and second. If the
values for hour, minute or second are missing or negative, the current date's cor-
responding values are used. You can increment or decrement any of those using the
left-, up-, right- and down-arrows. Use tab or backtab to move between windows.
On exit, the result is printed in the form hour:minute:second.
--yesno text height width
A yes/no dialog box of size height rows by width columns will be displayed. The
string specified by text is displayed inside the dialog box. If this string is too
long to fit in one line, it will be automatically divided into multiple lines at
appropriate places. The text string can also contain the sub-string "\n" or new-
line characters `\n' to control line breaking explicitly. This dialog box is use-
ful for asking questions that require the user to answer either yes or no. The
dialog box has a Yes button and a No button, in which the user can switch between
by pressing the TAB key.
1. Create a sample configuration file by typing:
"dialog --create-rc <file>"
2. At start, dialog determines the settings to use as follows:
a) if environment variable DIALOGRC is set, its value determines the name of the con-
b) if the file in (a) is not found, use the file $HOME/.dialogrc as the configuration
c) if the file in (b) is not found, try using the GLOBALRC file determined at com-
pile-time, i.e., /etc/dialogrc.
d) if the file in (c) is not found, use compiled in defaults.
3. Edit the sample configuration file and copy it to some place that dialog can find, as
stated in step 2 above.
DIALOGRC Define this variable if you want to specify the name of the configuration
file to use.
DIALOG_OK Define any of these variables to change the exit code on Cancel (1), error
(-1), ESC (255), Extra (3), Help (2), or Ok (0). Normally shell scripts
cannot distinguish between -1 and 255.
$HOME/.dialogrc default configuration file
Exit status is subject to being overridden by environment variables. Normally they are:
0 if dialog is exited by pressing the Yes or OK button.
1 if the No or Cancel button is pressed.
-1 if errors occur inside dialog or dialog is exited by pressing the ESC key.
Savio Lam (firstname.lastname@example.org) - version 0.3, "dialog"
Stuart Herbert (S.Herbert@sheffield.ac.uk) - patch for version 0.4
Pako (email@example.com) - version 0.9a, "cdialog",
Thomas Dickey (updates for 0.9b)
$Date: 2002/08/13 23:28:58 $ DIALOG(1)