pmconfirm(1) general purpose dialog box

Other Alias

pmmessage, pmquery


pmconfirm [-c] [-b button-name] [-B default-button-name] [-t string] [-file filename] [-icon icontype] [-font font] [-header titlebar-string] [-useslider] [-noslider] [-noframe] [-exclusive]

pmmessage [-buttons label1[:value1][,label2[:value2][,...]]] [-center] [-nearmouse] [-default button] [-file filename] [-print] [-timeout sec] message...

pmquery [-input] [all above options...] [message...]


pmquery provides a command-line-option compatible implementation of the xconfirm and xmessage tools, using a look-and-feel that is consistent with pmchart. Several extensions to the functionality of the original tools have been made, in order to improve their specific utility for pmchart, but wherever possible the original semantics remain.

pmconfirm displays a line of text for each -t argument specified (or a file when the -file argument is used), and a button for each -b argument specified. When one of the buttons is pressed, the label of that button is written to pmquery's standard output. This provides a means of communication/feedback from within shell scripts and a means to display useful information to a user from an application.

pmmessage displays a window containing a message from the command line, a file, or standard input. It additionally allows buttons to be associated with an exit status, and only optionally will write the label of the button to standard output.

pmquery extends the above tools to additionally support limited user input, as free form text. In this -input mode, any text entered will be output when the default button is pressed. A default text can be entered using the same mechanisms as the other tools.

Command line options are available to specify font style, frame style, modality and one of several different icons to be presented for tailored visual feedback to the user.

-c or -center
Center the window on the display.
Pop up the window near the mouse cursor.
-b button-name
Displays a button with the label button-name. If button-name is the empty string, the button in that position is not displayed. If no -b arguments are present, the default is a button with the label Continue. The exit status associated with button-name is zero.
-B button-name
Displays a button with the label button-name and specifies it as the button to be activated when enter is pressed. The exit status associated with button-name is zero.
-buttons button,button,...
This option will create one button for each comma-separated button argument. Each button consists of a label optionally followed by a colon and an exit value. The exit value will be returned if that button is selected. The default exit value is 100 plus the button number. Buttons are numbered from the left starting with one.
-default label
Defines the button with a matching label to be the default. If not specified there is no default. The corresponding resource is defaultButton. Pressing Return anywhere in the xmessage window will activate the default button. The default button has a wider border than the others.
-t message
Displays message. Any number of strings can be listed on the command line (each must be preceded with the -t option).
-file filename
Displays the file filename. All -t options will be ignored. A filename of `-' reads from standard input.
-icon icontype
Displays the icon icontype where icontype is one of: info, error, question, warning, critical. action is also accepted as a synonym for error for backward compatibility. pmquery introduces the additional archive and host icon types as well as the original xconfirm types listed earlier.
-font fontname
Use fontname as the font. This option is only available when using the X Window System.
-header string
Use string as the window title.
This causes the program to write the label of the button pressed to standard output. It is the default behaviour for pmconfirm and pmquery.
This causes the program to not write the label of the button pressed to standard output. It is the default behaviour for pmmessage.
-geometry geometry-string
This provides xconfirm with an X-compatible geometry string specification. This option is only available when using the X Window System.
When displaying a file, always use a slider instead of determining automatically whether a slider is necessary.
Do not create a slider, and clip text to the window size, instead of determining automatically whether a slider is necessary..
Do not display a frame around the contents.
Grab the keyboard/pointer and do not allow further input until a button is pressed.
-timeout secs
Exit with status 0 after secs seconds if the user has not clicked on a button yet. The corresponding resource is timeout.


The following shell script will display a window with an information icon, asking the user a yes or no question with "Yes" as the default.

 #! /bin/sh
 case `pmquery -t "Really power down?" -b No -B Yes -icon question
   Yes) shutdown;;
   No) ;;

A second example, which prompts for a hostname then starts a terminal with an ssh session connected to the requested host.

 #! /bin/sh
 host=`pmquery -input -icon host -b Cancel -B OK \
               -header "Remote Terminal - Secure Shell"
 [ "$host" = "Cancel" -o -z "$host" ] && exit
 gnome-terminal -e "ssh $host"


pmquery is an excellent choice of utility for the "PCP_XCONFIRM_PROG" Performance Co-Pilot configuration parameter (refer to pcp.conf(5) for details).

Note that PCP_XCONFIRM_PROG will be automatically set to pmquery inside tools like pmchart, unless PCP_XCONFIRM_PROG is already set in the environment.


If it detects an error, pmquery always returns 1, so this value should not be associated with a button. Unless -button option has not been used, the return code will be zero on success.