Error opening terminal: xterm

Polytropon freebsd at
Thu Jul 13 00:34:17 UTC 2017

On Wed, 12 Jul 2017 16:40:55 GMT, Anton Shterenlikht wrote:
> > Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2017 18:31:28 +0200
> > From: Polytropon <freebsd at>
> > To: Anton Shterenlikht <as at>
> > Subject: Re: Error opening terminal: xterm
> > Cc: freebsd-questions at
> >
> > On Wed, 12 Jul 2017 15:49:17 GMT, Anton Shterenlikht wrote:
> > > I'm trying to use ports-mgmt/synth.
> > > I get:
> > > 
> > > # synth build net/mpich
> > > Error opening terminal: xterm.
> >
> > Is the "xterm" program installed on your machine?
> > Yes, I know, stupid question, but might be relevant. ;-)
> yes, it is, use it every day:
> # pkg info -xo xterm
> xterm-330                      x11/xterm
> However, I never launch xterm as root,
> because I don't allow root access to X:
> # xterm
> Warning: This program is an suid-root program or is being run by the root user.
> The full text of the error or warning message cannot be safely formatted
> in this environment. You may get a more descriptive message by running the
> program as a non-root user or by removing the suid bit on the executable.
> xterm: Xt error: Can't open display: %s
> xterm: DISPLAY is not set

Fully correct.

> Again John told me this error has nothing to do with X anyway.

It doesn't really look like an X error, but it also doesn't
look like a termap/terminfo error, because those errors tend
to give a hint through their error message.

The message "Error opening terminal: xterm." isn't very helpful.
Can you provide some context from where (within the overall
construct) this message is coming? What tries to start xterm,
and how does it try to do so? Can the maintainer explain?

> > > Anybody has a suggestion?
> >
> > Can you manually start xterm? From within an xterm (or
> > whatever terminal emulator you are using)?
> yes, sure.


> > Maybe the port in question expects /usr/bin/xterm to be
> > the executable ("hardcoded Linuxism")?
> unlikely. ports-mgmt/synth was recently strongly
> recommended by some experienced users in ports@
> as a replacement of portmaster. So I guess this
> must be a well behaved port.

I'd think so, too - but still the error message (which doesn't
provide the _actual_ error) might suggest that there is still
something not working as intended. As you can manually start
xterm, xterm probably isn't the problem; starting xterm as
root _could_ be, but there are no X-related error messages
(such as $DISPLAY not set, or missing X access permission).

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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