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I like using XTerm, I like its default "fixed" font, and I like using terminal colors rather than having a monochromatic terminal.

However, XTerm seems to insist on using a bold version of the font whenever it's displaying a bright color:


I hate the bold version of the font, but I like the brightness. The man page seems to suggest that adding "XTerm.VT100.boldMode:false" to my ~/.Xresources would disable this "feature", but it doesn't seem to have any effect. I've had it in there for months, so it's not a rebooting issue.

How can I force XTerm to always use the standard, non-bold version of the fixed font, even when it's displaying bright text?

Edit: Some have suggested putting "XTerm*boldMode: false" in my ~/.Xresources. That didn't help either. I've confirmed that the changes have taken effect with xrdb, though:

$ xrdb -query | grep boldMode 
XTerm*boldMode: false

If I run xprop and click an xterm, I get "WM_CLASS(STRING) = "xterm", "XTerm"" .. so I'm definitely running real xterms.

BTW, this is just a plain-vanilla Ubuntu Intrepid box. If anyone else here is running the same, can you try running:

echo -e '#\e[1m#'

...and let me know whether the # on the right has a black pixel in the middle like the one on the left does?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

If you set the same font for bold and normal font it might work.

I set the fixed font for both like:

xterm*font: fixed
xterm*boldFont: fixed

If you then do xrdb -load and start a new term it was back to not being bold :)

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Is it normal for xrdb -load to take a very long time? I've been waiting for at least 5 minutes with no activity, and according to ps -e it's still running. – Dave Kennedy Sep 15 '15 at 3:46

Setting allowBoldFonts property works for me

Add the following line in your ~/.Xresources

XTerm*allowBoldFonts: false
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This works even when you use XTerm*faceName :-) – Sebastian Blask Mar 14 '14 at 16:47
This was the only solution that worked for me, probably also because I am using XTerm*faceName – minism Aug 1 '14 at 1:11

X resources aren't reloaded until you reload the X windowing system, and they aren't polled unless you restart the executable which is doing it. Try running

xrdb ~/.Xresources

in your current session. Then start another xterm. The next time you start X (relogin or reboot) the resources should be read automatically.

Another thing to try is to use a wildcard to make sure that it is picking up the resource correctly. Use

XTerm*boldMode: false


Yet another thing to check is that you are actually running xterm when you run a terminal process. If not, you will need to change the fonts with a different resource.

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It's actually been in there for months, so that's not the issue. I've updated the question to make this more clear. – mike Jul 29 '09 at 21:13
edited to add more things that could be wrong. – jamuraa Jul 30 '09 at 2:48

I found it necessary (on Lucid Lynx) to create ~/.Xdefaults-$(hostname). Omitting hostname made settings ineffective. ba's matching of font and boldFont did the trick of eliminating bold. xfontsel is a nice way to figure out what font to specify there. You can also start an xterm with something like xterm -font '-misc-fixed-medium-r-*-*-10-*-*-*-*-*-*-*' to test that your defaults are taking effect.

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It's an xterm bug:

A temporary fix which works for me is to put the following cludgy fix at the end of your .bashrc file:

 echo -e "\e[1mA\e[2J\e[7mB\e[m\e[?5h\e[?5l"
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Sadly, that doesn't help. I'm running XTerm(237), and that bug was fixed in XTerm(235). The echo statement didn't help either. – mike May 13 '10 at 23:33

On fontsel-based system try xterm -fa Fixed. On my machine this fixes bold fonts, albeit the rendering becomes slower.

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There's an XTerm resource specifically for this. Perhaps it didn't exist when the question was originally asked?

XTerm*colorBDMode: true
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Check if the setting has taken effect:

xrdb -query | grep XTerm

If it is not in there, then you can force it to load:

xrdb -load ~/.Xresources

See the man page for more on this command.

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It's actually been in there for months, so that's not the issue. I've updated the question to make this more clear. – mike Jul 29 '09 at 21:14
You should check if it is loading anyway. If it isn't, your window manager doesn't do resources correctly. – jamuraa Jul 30 '09 at 2:46

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