I would like to customize xterm because the default font-size is pretty small. I would also like to change my xterm font to Inconsolata.

I have a few questions.

  • How would i know my default xterm font-size and font-family(xrdb -query don't show my font information)?
  • What is the path for my xterm font?
  • What are the acceptable formats for xterm fonts?
  • should i be only using Monospace?
  • Where i should be storing configuration?
  • Would it only affect xterm or other terminals like gnome-terminal?
  • Any standard format for xterm configuration?

I've google a bit but just got me confused because i can't seem to find a standard syntax for some configuration. Others use the classname xterm or XTerm and with regards to fontsize:

I've found a lot of formats. Like:

XTerm*faceName: Monospace:size=20


xterm*font:     *-fixed-*-*-*-18-*


xterm -fa "fontname"

I'm using Ubuntu 12.04LTS. I'm overwhelmed by the manpage of xterm since i'm just a beginner. I would like to get help from you guys.

  • Do you know that you are running xterm and not the default gnome-terminal? You are correct, xterm configuration is an obnoxious, historically crufty mess; gnome-terminal has an Edit→Profiles menu which is far, far easier.
    – msw
    Aug 12, 2013 at 20:08
  • in ubuntu, i search xterm.
    – chanHXC
    Aug 12, 2013 at 20:12
  • but others say that gnome-terminal is resource heavy. and i'm using xterm for vim which show colors 256colorschemes better than gnome-terminal.
    – chanHXC
    Aug 12, 2013 at 20:28
  • You should be using gvim if you want a vim in a window. You are making this more complicated for yourself than it needs to be. That's another form of "resource heavy".
    – msw
    Aug 12, 2013 at 22:14
  • If you want to see more than you ever wanted to know about the xterm program, check this out: invisible-island.net/xterm/manpage/xterm.html
    – SDsolar
    Aug 1, 2017 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


you can use xfontsel to get the correct name of some fonts installed on your system. Then call it using for example xterm -fa "-*-nimbus mono l-*"

(you can also control+right click on the xterm window to get a menu)

But I advice you to use gnome-terminal or other alternative such as sakura or lxterminal which are easier to configure.

  • what do those asterisks mean?
    – chanHXC
    Aug 12, 2013 at 20:44
  • I really like the ctrl-right-click method. Quick and to the point, albeit temporary.
    – SDsolar
    Aug 1, 2017 at 18:07

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