xmotd - message-of-the-day browser for X (and dumb terminals, VT100,
/usr/bin/xmotd [X-toolkit options] [xmotd-options] file [file2 ... ]
/usr/bin/xmotd [X-toolkit options] [xmotd-options] directory
or (in text-mode)
/usr/bin/xmotd [-stampfile stamp-file] [-wakeup sleep-period] file
xmotd is a utility program (for X11 and dumb terminals) that can be
executed during the login process to display pertinent messages (i.e.
the message of the day) or to periodically check, while the user is
logged in, whether one or more message files have been modified and
display them if they have. Under X11, it displays a customizable bitmap
in the top-left corner. It provides for up to 3 lines of title-text
(the length of the text depends on the size of the font chosen). It has
a "Dismiss" button below the bitmap and a read-only text-widget that
displays the message (or messages) of the day. The date of the message
(and optionally, the filename) is displayed just above the text.
xmotd can be configured to run in various modes: to always pop-up after
login or to pop-up only when the motd changes; to pop-down
automatically (without user-intervention) after a specified delay; to
run in the background and periodically check if the motd has changed
and display it. By default, xmotd displays a message only if the
file(s) was updated since the last time the user read it.
If xmotd has to display more than one file, the user is obliged to
press the "Next Message" button to view subsequent messages; the text
of the button changes to "Dismiss" when the last message is displayed.
xmotd defaults to text-only mode (output to stdout when it cannot
connect to an X display. This mode is useful for running xmotd from
user’s ~/.login file in cases where they can also login via dialup.
This version of xmotd cannot display messages marked-up with HTML and
xpm colour pixmap logos, because the code that provided that
functionality does not comply with Debian Free Software Guidelines.
xmotd is usually run from the system Xsession file via xdm(1), CDE
login and/or from the user’s ~/.login file. At sites where xdm is not
used, xmotd may be run from the user’s ~/.xinitrc where a (possibly)
malicious user may intentionally or accidently remove the xmotd
invocation from the file.
When xmotd first runs, it creates a timestamp file (by default called
.xmotd ) in the user’s home-directory. On subsequent invocations, xmotd
uses the date of this file to decide whether or not the message-of-the-
day (motd) files have been updated. If the date of the motd file is
later than the date on the ~/.xmotd file, then xmotd will display the
motd file; otherwise it will silently exit (if there are no more files
to be displayed and if -wakeup was not used). When invoked with
-wakeup, xmotd daemonizes itself and goes to sleep for the specified
sleep-period, periodically waking-up to see if the motds have changed
and then displaying them.
By default, xmotd pops-down only when the "Dismiss" button is clicked;
the rest of the login-procedure then continues. This interactive
behaviour can be overriden so xmotd will pop-down without user
intervention, after a specified timeout period.
All the standard X options are valid. In addition, the following
options, which may also be set as resources in the app-defaults file
(See RESOURCES), are available:
-always overrides xmotd default behavior; the ~/.xmotd time-stamp is
ignored and the message (or messages) is always displayed.
Zero-length (empty) files are displayed when this option is
register xmotd with name atom-name. By default, only one xmotd
is allowed to run (per user). You can permit multiple instances
of xmotd to run by giving each instance an unique name. xmotd
will intern an atom with the X server, that combines the atom-
name and the user’s login-id (e.g. "xmotd.elf" ; the default
atom name is "xmotd"); subsequent invocations of xmotd will
check if this atom exists and exit if it does.
specifies that the bitmap bitmap-filename is to be displayed in
place of the default bitmap, the "X" logo. Ideally, the
specified bitmap should have a width and height of 100 pixels.
If xpm support is compiled-in, xpm colour pixmaps may be
substituted instead. See NOTES for additional details.
-help displays command-line options usage.
(used with -warnfile) displays the warning message
unconditionally at every login (even when there are no messages
to be displayed).
exit or pop-down without user intervention, timeout seconds
after being invoked. The user can dismiss xmotd at any time
before the timeout, by clicking on the "Dismiss" button. This
option is only valid at the initial login; it is ignored on
subsequent pop-ups when xmotd is invoked with -wakeup.
displays the filename of the file currently being viewed (as it
appears on the command-line), alongside the date.
overrides the default timestamp filename, ~/.xmotd, and uses
-tail display the end of a file; the text is automatically scrolled
so the end of the file is visible.
uses local domain-name based time-stamping in cases where
user’s home-directories are shared (NFS mounted) across various
domains. Time-stamps are created (and checked) with
appropriate domain-names appended.
specifies a file containing a standard message used to warn
users of the consequences of deviance and sundry unlawful
things they should not even think of doing on your network;
your network’s rules of use, information about disk quotas,
modem charges and printer accounting fees (used with
causes xmotd to run in the background and wakeup periodically
every sleep-period hours to check whether the files have been
modified and therefore need to be (re-)displayed. The sleep
period is specified as a floating point number where the
fractional portion indicates the number of minutes. For
example, a sleep-period of 0.25 indicates 15 minutes (one
quarter of an hour) and a sleep-period of 1.5 indicates one and
one-half hours; the minimum (enforced) sleep-period is 1
minute. The -wakeup option is useful at sites where users with
personal workstations never log-out. See NOTES for additional
file [file2 ... ]
one or more files to be displayed may be specified. The file(s)
contain the text of the message(s) of the day. If HTML support
is compiled-in the motd files should be marked-up with HTML.
Instead of supplying one or more files on the command-line,
xmotd may be supplied a directory containing file(s) to be
displayed. xmotd will scan the directory and display all the
files contained therein, that need to be displayed. This
feature is useful when used with the -wakeup option; upon
waking-up, xmotd will re-scan the directory for any files
(including new files that have been subsequently added) that
need to be displayed.
Give xmotd a geometry option to tell it to pop-up at a location other
than 0,0 and read-in the message-of-the-day from the file
xmotd -geometry +20+20 /usr/local/motd
Use a bigger window (900x600) and automatically position it (at top-
left corner at 20,20), always pop-up xmotd displaying the contents of
/usr/local/motd, ignoring the user’s ~/.xmotd timestamp-file and pop-
down after 20 seconds:
xmotd -geom 900x600+20+20 -always -popdown 20 /usr/local/motd
Use a custom bitmap in the file /usr/local/xmotd.bm:
xmotd -geom +5+5 -bitmaplogo /usr/local/xmotd.bm /usr/local/motd
In the following example, all the files in /usr/local/messages/ will be
checked for modification times greater than the time-stamp and only
those files will be displayed and every eight and a half hours, xmotd
will check if any files have changed (or new ones added) and display
them if necessary:
xmotd -geom +5+5 -wakeup 8.5 /usr/local/messages/
To display a warning-message every time the user logs-in (even when no
messages need to be displayed), and to display the filenames of the
files being viewed, use:
xmotd -geom +5+5 -warnfile /usr/local/WARNING -paranoid \
X resources may be changed from the command-line using the -xrm option.
This example (typed as a single line) illustrates how xmotd can be
customized exclusively from the command-line:
/usr/bin/xmotd -always \
-xrm "*title.label: Top 10 Disk Hogs\n As of midnight\n " \
-xrm "*title.foreground: yellow" \
-xrm "*form.background: red" \
-xrm "*title.background: red" \
-xrm "*logo.background: pink" \
-xrm "*text*font: -adobe-times-bold-*-normal-*-*-180-*" \
-geometry 500x650-1-1 \
-popdown 10 \
editres(1) may be used to edit resources. The application class-name is
The resource: XMotd*Always (set to either True or False) is equivalent
to the -always command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*Atom (set to the name of the atom xmotd is
registered with) is equivalent to the -atom command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*BitmapLogo (set to the path and filename of the
bitmap/pixmap-file) is equivalent to the -bitmaplogo command-line
The resource: XMotd*Browser (set to the path and filename of the
browser to be used when users click on an URL (HTML version only)) is
equivalent to the -browser command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*Paranoid (set to True/False) is equivalent to the
-paranoid command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*Popdown (set to the number of seconds) is
equivalent to the -popdown command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*UseDomains (set to True/False) is equivalent to the
-usedomains command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*ShowFilename (set to True/False) is equivalent to
the -showfilename command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*Warnfile (set to the path and filename of the
warning-file) is equivalent to the -warnfile command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*Tail (set to True/False) is equivalent to the -tail
The resource: XMotd*Wakeup (set to an floating-point number
representing hours) is equivalent to the -wakeup command-line option.
The resource: XMotd*title.label (set to a possibly multi-line string)
may be used to customize the title.
By default, the title is the single line:"Message Of The Day\n\n\n"
(the 2-character sequence, "\n", indicates a carriage-return).
For example, if you want a 2 line title that reads:
This is the
Message of the Day
the resource can be specified as:
*title.label: \ This is the\nMessage of the Day\n\n
Note that the first backslash quotes the leading spaces that indent the
words, "This is the".
The widget hierarchy is as follows (Class-name & object-name):
Text text OR Html text
(where $ProjectRoot is /usr/X11R6 or, perhaps /usr/X11).
For systems running CDE put a script that invokes xmotd in
$HOME/.xmotd (default timestamp filename)
X(1), xdm(1), editres(1), login(1), xv(l), gimp(l), xpaint(l), cat(1),
The -always option is considered fascist; it is provided merely for
completeness and for testing purposes.
If xpm support is compiled-in, xmotd -help will print the words
"bitmap/pixmap" for the -bitmaplogo description instead of just
Under dumb-terminal mode, all command-line options are ignored with the
exception of -stampfile and -wakeup; the -always option is equivalent
to cat’ing the motd from the ~/.login file; and -popdown is not really
relevant. Both -warnfile and -paranoid may be simulated with
appropriate cat(1) and more(1) commands.
xmotd processes invoked with -wakeup will continue sleeping, "S" in the
ps(1) status field, after the user has logged-out until the sleep
timeout expires. Only when xmotd wakes-up, will it detect that the user
has logged-out and exit. xmotd’s logout-detection routine relies on the
xdm(1) support scripts GiveConsole (which chown’s /dev/console to the
user) and TakeConsole (which chown’s /dev/console back to root) setting
the correct permissions and ownership on /dev/console. When xmotd
wakes-up, it attempts to open(2) /dev/console for reading; if this open
fails, it is an indication that the user has logged out because
TakeConsole has changed ownership of the console.
There are no provisions for displaying embedded images in the HTML
version of xmotd (until a stable XmHTML widget is available, or perhaps
when xmotd is ported to the GTK).
At least one other.
...and our lives are forever changed
we will never be the same
the more you change the less you feel
"Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness"
Billy Corgan, The Smashing Pumpkins
Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
(All things change, and we change with them).
Deliciae Poetarum Germanorum, i. 685
To everything there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under heaven.
Luis Fernandes <firstname.lastname@example.org> is the primary author and
Richard Deal <email@example.com> contributed the directory-scanning
Stuart A. Harvey <firstname.lastname@example.org> contributed the URL support
code for the HTML version.
David M. Ronis <email@example.com> contributed code to
support xpm logos.
Copyright 1993 (as xbanner, no public release)
Copyright 1994-97, 1999, 2001, 2003 Luis A. Fernandes
Permission to use, copy, hack, and distribute this software and its
documentation for any purpose and without fee is hereby granted,
provided that the above copyright notice appear in all copies and that
both that copyright notice and this permission notice appear in
This application is presented as is without any implied or written
This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it
under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the
Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your
option) any later version.
This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but
WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU
General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along
with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc.,
675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
The HTML widget Copyright 1993, Board of Trustees of the University of
Illinois. See the file libhtmlw/HTML.c for the complete text of the
NOTE: THE HTML WIDGET IS NOT DISTRIBUTED IN THE "LITE" VERSION OF THE
xmotd DISTRIBUTION, WHICH IS THEREFORE FULLY COMPLIANT WITH THE GPL.