GNU Typist Manual

Table of Contents

GNU Typist - Typing Tutor

This manual is for GNU Typist (version 2.9.3, 7 June 2013), a program to learn typing in several languages and for different keyboard layouts.

Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2011, 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”.

GNU Typist is an interactive typing tutor that can help you to type correctly. It has several lessons for different keyboard layouts and in different languages. The lessons for gtypist are described in a easy-to-learn scripting language that the user can use to modify the existing lessons or create new ones.


GNU Typist (or gtypist) is free software; this means that everyone is free to use it and free to redistribute it on certain conditions. The precise conditions are found in the GNU General Public License that comes with this program and also follows this section.

You can obtain GNU Typist from a friend or from the Internet:

Official distribution site

Official home page

On-line manual (updates between program releases)

Developers’ home page (Git repository, tasks, support...)


Version 3, 29 June 2007
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1 Introduction

GNU Typist is an interactive typing tutor program. It uses an input file to create a series of typing tutorials, drills, and speed tests. It is intended to be used on raw terminals without graphics. It has been compiled and used on GNU/Linux and Unix (OpenBSD, AIX, Solaris) and also on Windows.

The program reads lessons written in an easy-to-learn scripting language. It is distributed with several complete and good lessons. You can use them, modify them or create new lessons (see Create new lessons and see Script file commands).

If a script file is not specified on the command line, a default file gtypist.typ will be used. (See details about the path in the section see Environment Variables).

The top line of the screen displays a banner. The bottom line of the screen displays a message line, queries, and other status information. The lines in between are used for the tutorials, drills, and speed tests.

There are two types of typing exercises: drills and speed tests.

In a drill, gtypist displays text in every other line on the screen, and waits for the user to correctly type the exact same text in the intermediate lines. Typing errors are indicated with an inverse ‘^’, or ‘>’ if the character is a newline and at the end of the exercise it calculates the real and effective rate in Words Per Minute (WPM). If there were too many errors, it will re-run the drill.

Backward deleting of previously typed characters to correct errors is not allowed.

In a speed test, gtypist displays text on the screen, and waits for the user to correctly over-type the exact same text. It indicates typing errors, and at the end of the test it calculates the real and effective rate in WPM. If there were too many errors, it will re-run the speed test. Backward deleting of previously typed characters to correct errors is permitted, but errors still accumulate.

If you already made too many mistakes, then you can use ESC to give up and start again. You can also skip a lesson by pressing ESC twice. Once you complete a lesson, you will be asked whether you want to repeat it.

There are also “practice only” exercises (of both drills and speed tests) which you won’t have to repeat at all. But we won’t tell you when this is the case, so you’ll have to give your best anyway ;-)

In typing speed reports, a word is deemed to be five characters, so the raw (gross) WPM is the number of characters in the test passage, divided by five, then divided again by the number of minutes elapsed in typing the passage. The adjusted WPM factors in the errors; each error is counted as a mistyped word.

If preferred, speeds can be displayed in Characters Per Minute (CPM). This can be done by specifying “–scoring=cpm” at the command line.

2 Invoking

The syntax to invoke GNU Typist is:

gtypist [ Options... ] [ script_file ]

-b, --personal-best

gtypist will keep track of your personal best typing speeds and tell you when you’ve beaten them. Best typing speeds are saved in a “bestlog” in the user’s home directory.

-e, --error-max

Specifies the default maximum error percentage. The default value is 3.0 and it must be between 0.0 and 100.0. There is a corresponding script file command (see Script file commands) which only overrides this if it is stricter (smaller). This value is ignored for “practice only” drills.

-n, --notimer

gtypist will display the typing speeds in WPM after both drills and speed tests. However, the lessons appear to be written for a program that only does this for speed tests. To make gtypist behave in a manner that matches the lessons, that is, to sup WPM reports on drills, use -n or --notimer.

-t, --term-cursor

gtypist creates its own flashing block cursor on the screen, to help distinguish between the cursor and reverse video error indications. Setting -t or --term-cursor suppresses this, and forces the program to use the terminal’s cursor instead.

-f, --curs-flash

Sets the block cursor flash period in tenths of a second. A value of 0 indicates no cursor flashing. The default is 10, and the maximum is 512. This option is ignored if -t or --term-cursor has been set.

-c, --colo[u]rs

In normal operation, gtypist uses only normal and reverse video attributes in monochrome mode. This option may be used to specify the foreground and background colours on terminals that support colours. The colours are specified as two integers, in the range 0 to 7, separated by commas, setting the foreground and background colours. The colour codes 0 to 7 indicate black, red, green, yellow, blue, magenta, cyan, and white respectively. The default colours string is 7,0 - white on black. The option is ignored if the terminal does not support colours.

-s, --silent

When gtypist detects a typing error, it will beep the terminal. Use this option to silence the beep.

-q, --quiet

Same as -s or --silent.

-l, --start-label

Specifies the label in the script file at which gtypist begins executing (see script files and commands below for information on labels). If this option is not used, gtypist begins execution at the first line of the file.

-w, --word-processor

With this option, gtypist will try to mimic a word processor in certain ways when executing an exercise. It will treat space at the end of a line as a correctly typed character, and word wrap. It will treat return at the end of a line as a signal to move to the start of the next paragraph if applicable. It will compress multiple spaces into a single space. And it will skip over hyphens found at the end of a line.

-k, --no-skip

Prohibit the user from skipping lessons or exiting from lessons via ESC ESC.

-i, --show-errors

Highlight errors with reverse video.

-S, --always-sure

Skips confirmation questions.


Change the color of the banner at the top of the screen. Color values are the same as for the –colo[u]rs command. The default value is 0,6,5,1 - black foreground, cyan background, magenta program name and red version name.


Change the scoring mode. WPM and CPM modes are available, with the default being WPM.

You also have to set the environment variable LANG if you want to run gtypist in your native language. See Environment Variables.

In some languages like French, some interface messages are longer than in English. Therefore, you may need to make your terminal larger before invoking the tool. Otherwise, the text on the lower left may overlap with the string on the lower right.


To run the default lessons of lesson gtypist.typ:

To run the lesson in Spanish:
gtypist esp.typ

To instruct gtypist to look for lesson bar.typ in a non standard directory /home/foo:
export GTYPIST_PATH="/home/foo" gtypist bar.typ

To run the lessons in the file test.typ of directory /tmp, starting at label TEST1, using the terminal’s cursor, and running silently:
gtypist -t -q -l TEST1 /tmp/test.typ

3 Supplied lessons

The following lessons are supplied with GNU Typist :


Quick QWERTY course in English


Long QWERTY course in English


QWERTY touch typing in English


Yet Another QWERTY in English


QWERTY Review in English


Dvorak touch typing in English


Colemak touch typing in English


Typing drills in English


Speed drills in English


Calculator keypad in English


Compendium of all previous lessons in English


Lessons in Czech


QWERTY course in Spanish


Lessons in Russian


These lessons are the standard lessons from Ktouch 1.6, which have been converted to gtypist’s file format with the included script, tools/

The files are: ktbg.typ (bulgarian.ktouch.xml), ktbg_long.typ (bulgarian_long.ktouch.xml), ktde.typ (german.ktouch.xml), ktde2.typ (german3.ktouch.xml), ktde_neo.typ (german.neo.ktouch.xml), ktde_number.typ (german.number.ktouch.xml), ktdk.typ (danish.ktouch.xml), ktdk2.typ (danish2.ktouch.xml), ktdvorak.typ (dvorak.ktouch.xml), ktdvorak_es.typ (dvorak_es.ktouch.xml), ktdvorak_abcd.typ (dvorak_ABCD.ktouch.xml), kten.typ (english.ktouch.xml), ktes.typ (spanish.ktouch.xml), ktes_cat.typ (catalan.ktouch.xml), ktfi.typ (finnish.ktouch.xml), ktfi_kids.typ (finnish_for_kids.ktouch.xml), ktfr.typ (french.ktouch.xml), ktfr2.typ (french2.ktouch.xml), kthu.typ (hungarian.ktouch.xml), kthu_expert.typ (hungarian_expert.ktouch.xml), ktit.typ (italian.ktouch.xml), ktnl.typ (nederlands.ktouch.xml), ktnl_junior.typ (nederlands_junior.ktouch.xml), ktno.typ (norwegian.ktouch.xml), ktpl.typ (polish.ktouch.xml), ktru.typ (russian.ktouch.xml), ktru_long.typ (russian_long.ktouch.xml), ktru_slava.typ (russian_slava.ktouch.xml), ktsi.typ (slovenian.ktouch.xml), kttr.typ (tr.ktouch.xml),

german2.ktouch.xml has not been included because it is from the same source as ttde.typ and ttde.typ contains more information.


This is the German lesson of tipptrainer 0.6.0, which has been converted using tools/ It is quite extensive and has good explanations along the way.

If you find errors in these lessons, if you modify any of them or if you write a new lesson, please release it with a free license and tell us about it, by writing an email to

4 Using typefortune

typefortune lets you practice with text from fortune.

SYNTAX: typefortune [-dslh] [-n count] [-o <gtypist_opts>]


Use D: instead of S:.


Run fortune with -s.


Run fortune with -l.

-n <count>

Practice <count> fortunes.

-o <gtypist_options>

Pass options to gtypist, in the form option (boolean option, i.e. -o word-processor), option,value (option with value, i.e. -o e,1.0) where option is the name of the option (short or long) with all leading dashes removed. You need to quote the argument to -o if you are specifying more than one argument: typefortune -n 3 -o 'silent e,5 word-processor'.

5 Script file commands

GNU Typist reads in the data for its typing lessons from a script file. With the exception of comments and blank lines, each line in the file is of the format

command_char : command_data

Here, command_char is a single character code that defines an action for gtypist to take, and command_data is data for that command. If command_char is a space character, this indicates that the line is a continuation of the preceding non-space command. The ‘:’ separator must be in column two of the line.

Comment lines are lines beginning with a ‘#’ character, and are ignored, as are blank lines. Comment lines may have any format provided that they begin with ‘#’; other lines must have the above format.

You should read the introduction so that you are familiar with the basics: See Introduction.

The following is a list of valid command_char values:


This command clears the complete screen. If any command_data is present, it is displayed in the one-line banner at the top of the screen, and remains in place until the next B command. This command may not be continued on the following line; it is a single line command.


This presents a tutorial, and is a multi-line command, up to the limit of the screen length. Each line in the command is simply printed to the screen. This command clears the screen beneath the top banner line. After the display is done, the program waits before proceeding.


This indicates a label in the file. The label may be the target of a G, Y, N or F command. Labels may contain any character except space (this restriction was added in gtypist 2.9), and are a single line command. Labels must be unique within lesson files. White-space at the end of labels is ignored.


The I command can display some brief instructions above a drill or a speed test. Only two lines or less are permitted. Unlike the T command, it does not wait for any further key-presses before proceeding. So it should really always be followed by an exercise. It clears the whole screen exercise area, so in this respect it’s just like a two-line T.


This command is the new way to create menus (since gtypist 2.7). Here is the syntax:

 :LABEL1 "item1"
 :LABEL2 "item2"

This will display a convenient menu made from the specified items and let the user to choose from them. If an item was selected, gtypist will continue script execution from the corresponding label. If the Escape key was pressed and UP label is defined, gtypist will go to the UP label likewise, or quit from, if there is ``_EXIT'' in the place of the label. If the UP label is not defined, gtypist will try to return to the previous menu and jump to the last label met in the script before previous M command. If there is no such label and some menu was displayed before the current one, gtypist will just go to the beginning of the script. If none of the previous conditions were met, gtypist will just exit from the script.

The above details make it natural to create menu hierarchies without using UP labels.

The title and all descriptions must be wrapped in quotes (""). Additionally, there must be at least one space between UP=XXX and "title" and between the labels and the corresponding descriptions.

This command was introduced as an easy way to arrange various parts of lesson files into single menu hierarchy which can be easily navigated, as well as a replacement for ancient F-key menus. See the existing lesson-files for examples.


This command is called drill, and it is one of two types of typing exercises.

It is a multi-line command. The text is displayed in every second line, and you type in the intermediate lines. Because of this, you cannot use more than 11 lines of drill content.

This type of exercise is supposed to be used for finger training (i.e. jfjfjjf), but may also contain complete words and sentences if they are used to practice something (i.e. a letter/syllable/"grip"), and aren’t real texts.

The lowercase version d is a “practice only” drill - the user will not have not repeat this drill if he/she made too many mistakes.


This is the second type of typing exercise: the speed test.

It is a multi-line command. It displays its text on the screen, and prompts the user to type on top of it. That’s why you can use up to 22 lines of text for one speed test. In a speed test you can correct your mistakes, but this will not decrease the error-count.

Speed tests should be used for typing (mostly) complete sentences, texts or files (i.e. a letter, texinfo/html/tex files).

The lowercase version s is a practice only speed test: the user will not have not repeat this drill if (s)he made too many mistakes.


This causes gtypist to go to the label in command_data, and continue execution of the script there. This is a single line command.


This command command prompts its text on the message line, and waits for a Y or an N before proceeding. Other characters are ignored.

As a side effect, you can hit an F-key if it is bound (a deprecated way to create the prompt for menus).


This is like G, except that the goto is executed only if the result of the last Q command was Y.


This is like G, except that the goto is executed only if the result of the last Q command was N.


This command is deprecated in favor of M: This binds a function key to a label. The format of the data line following this command must be fkey_number:label, where fkey_number is a function key number in the range 1 to 12, and label is a label to go to when this key is pressed. A value of NULL for label removes any label binding from the key.

If function keys are not available on the terminal other keys can be used: 1 to 9 to replace F1 to F9, 0 to replace F10, A for F11 and S for F12.

Other alternatives for the keys F1 to F12 are the combinations: Ctrl-Q, Ctrl-W, Ctrl-E, Ctrl-R, Ctrl-T, Ctrl-Z, Ctrl-U, Ctrl-I, Ctrl-O, Ctrl-P, Ctrl-A and Ctrl-S.

This is also useful where function keys are intercepted by other programs (for example by a window manager).


This command is used to set the highest error-rate permitted for the next drill (E:<value>%) or for all following drills until the next E: (E:<value>%*).

If --error-max/-e is specified then this command will only have an effect if it is stricter than the value specified on the command-line.

command_data consists of the value (between 0.0 and 100.0), followed by ‘%’ (this is required so that scripts are more readable). A special value of default or Default sets the error-max value back to the default.


This command (“set on-failure label”) is used to set the label (in command_data) where the user will have to go to if (s)he fails an exercise.

Usually, this command only applies to the next exercise, but you can make it persistent by putting a ‘*’ at the end of command_data.

If label is NULL then this resets the label.


This command causes gtypist to exit. It is a single line command. Any command_data is ignored. The program also exits if the end of the file is found (so you could also place a label there and just G to it)

Here is a tiny example script to demonstrate the available commands (tinydemo.typ lesson file):

# Minimal demonstration 
B: Typing tutor demonstration 
T:This is a small example tutor script. A better
 :example may be found in the demo.typ file that
 :accompanies GNU Typist
I:Here is an example of a drill: 
D:asdf ghjkl;
I:And here is an example of a speed test: 
S:qwe rt yu iop
Q:Seen enough yet? [Y/N] 

6 Create new lessons

This section provides guidelines and hints for creating new lessons (or improving existing ones).

6.1 Ktouch lessons

A very easy way to write lessons is to write them in the format that ktouch 1.0 uses, and then convert it to a gtypist lesson using tools/ This will take care of writing “jump-tables”, a menu and a bit more.

The ktouch-1.0-format consists only of lessons, which are preceded by their names, and separated by blank lines and/or comments (‘#’ at the beginning of the line). So the first non-blank, non-comment line in the file is the name of the first lesson, and the first lesson consists of all the lines up to the next comment or blank line. After the separator (comment or blank line) the name of the second lesson follows and so on.

This is an example of a three-lesson ktouch file (excerpts from the first three lessons of german.ktouch):

# Deutsche Training-Datei für KTouch

f f f f f f fff fff fff f f f f f f fff fff fff f f f f f f f fff
j j j j j j jjj jjj jjj j j j j j j jjj jjj jjj j j j j j j j jjj
fff jjj fff jjj jjj fff jjj fff fjf fjf fjf jfj jfj jfj fjf jfjfj

fff jjj ddd kkk aaa ööö fff jjj ddd kkk aaa ööö fff jjj ddd kkkff
fda jkö fda jkö fda jkö fda jkö fda jkö fda jkö fda jkö fda jköfd
s s s s s s sss sss sss s s s s s s sss sss sss s s s s s s s sss

#Zwei wichtige Vokale: e und i
e und i
asdf ölkj fdsa jklö asdf ölkj fdsa jklö asdf ölkj fdsa jklö asdfö
das dass lös fad dass lös als dass las lös fad dass als dass dass
ded ded ded dej dek del deö ded deö del dek dej ded dej dek delde

Once you are done, use tools/ to convert the file: ‘ lesson.ktouch’ converts lesson.ktouch to lesson.typ. It is important that the input file ends in ‘.ktouch’, otherwise will skip it. Warning: this will overwrite lesson.typ without asking you !

You can customize the number of lines that uses for each drill by modifying the relevant variable in tools/

Obviously, the disadvantage of this is that you cannot make use of all of gtypist’s features (but the output file is very readable, so you can edit it to use more of gtypist’s features).

If you prefer, you can use the new ktouch 1.6 XML file format, which looks like this (from english.ktouch.xml:

 <Title>SAMPLE TITLE</Title>
 <Comment>SAMPLE COMMENT</Comment>
   <Line>ff jjj jf jfj j jff fjjf ff jfj j jff ff jjj fjj fjj fjf jfj jjj</Line>
   <Line>f fjjf jjj fjjf jfj fjjf f j fjj jff j fjj jf jjj fjjf f f fjf</Line>
   <Line>fjjf jff jjj ff jf fjjf fjjf f fjj fjj jf fjf j jj f j fjj jj jjj</Line>
   <Line>jjd fdfj rd djd jk jd k dd fjk fd fk k jfkd dkkf fk dkd dd jk k</Line>
   <Line>dfj djd fkkk fk dff d dkkf fd fk fdfj fk k dkkf djd dff dkd dff</Line>
   <Line>dkd kdk k dkkf k jk fkkk jd k jfkd fk fk jd k d dkd jd k dd rd dffd</Line>

In this format, the content of the <NewCharacters> tag acts as a title for the following drill. You can convert *.ktouch.xml to *.typ with ‘ lesson.ktouch.xml’, which will create lesson.ktouch.typ (again, this may overwrite without asking you).

6.2 Exercises from fortune

Using gtypist-mode.el you can quickly create lessons with text from the program fortune (or the Emacs-internal yow if fortune isn’t available, as is usually the case on Windows).

Once you installed gtypist-mode.el (see Emacs mode), you can open a file with the ‘.typ’ extension and run C-c C-f to create a drill (D: by default, use C-u or C-u C-u prefix to change).

6.3 Design patterns for lessons

6.3.1 Structure of lesson files

6.3.2 Patterns for exercises

6.4 Findwords script

The tools/findwords script in the GNU Typist sources is there to assist you in creating new lessons.

6.4.1 Purpose

In the beginning when you are creating a new tutorial from scratch, it’s not very easy to form words and even sentences while the range of letters you can use is restricted. Sometimes you want to insert some paragraph “targeted” at some special combination of two or three letters. This is even harder.

For this purpose we created findwords. It uses the dictionaries from the aspell database (free multilingual spellchecker).

6.4.2 Installing

You will need the aspell and aspell-LG packages, where LG is the ISO language code for the language you want to use.

After a successful installation, you will have to make a little change in your configuration so that aspell’s master database is the one of your language. This can be done two different ways:

  1. In your home directory create the file
    .aspell.conf and add this line:
    master LANGUAGE
  2. Create /usr/share/pspell/LG-aspell.pwli
    and add this line:
    Make sure your locale setting is LG.

In the above, LG means ISO language code (eg. ‘en’, ‘fr’, ‘cs’) and LANGUAGE means name of the database in /usr/lib/aspell (eg. ‘english.multi’, ‘french’, ‘czech’).

You can try if it works by typing:

        aspell dump master | less

6.4.3 Using findwords

The syntax is as follows:
./findwords letters [combination]

In the mandatory letters argument you must list the letters that you want use without any spaces. You may use the dot (‘.’) to say ‘all letters’. The second argument combination is optional and you can specify there what combination of letters are you searching for.

Some examples:

7 Emacs mode

gtypist now comes with an Emacs major-mode which does syntax-highlighting, indentation and has some convenient commands for counting labels, a goto-label-command, inserting properly centered banners, special comments and a bit more.

Copy this file from tools/gtypist-mode.el to wherever you put your local elisp files (e.g. ~/elisp) and put this in your ~/.emacs (adapt path!):

(autoload 'gtypist-mode "~/elisp/gtypist-mode")

or put it in load-path (‘make install’ in the sources should take care of this for GNU Emacs, or if you are using the Debian package, it installs it here for you) and use this instead:

(autoload 'gtypist-mode "gtypist-mode")

and add this to your ~/.emacs:

(setq auto-mode-alist       
      (cons '("\\.typ\\'" . gtypist-mode) auto-mode-alist))

All this is also mentioned in the README-section of tools/gtypist-mode.el.

Here are the commands along with the keybindings:

C-c C-i, M-x gtypist-mode-info

This shows gtypist’s texinfo-documentation, starting at node “Script file commands” (see Script file commands). With prefix, start at the top-node.

C-c M-g, M-x gtypist-mode-goto-label

Query for a label to go to (with completion).

C-c C-l, M-x gtypist-mode-next-label

This command inserts the next label in a numbered sequence of labels. For example, if you insert


and hit C-c C-l then gtypist-mode will insert

C-c C-b, M-x gtypist-mode-insert-banner

This command inserts a centered B: command. It’s centered on 66 columns because “gtypist <version>” is in the right corner (prompts for content).

C-c C-r, M-x gtypist-mode-insert-hrule

Inserts a horizontal rule (comment) consisting of dashes.

C-c C-n, M-x gtypist-mode-new-lesson

Insert the comments (header) and a label to start a new lesson (prompts for name).

C-c C-f, M-x gtypist-mode-fortune-to-drill

Insert a drill (D:) with text from fortune (or yow if fortune isn’t available). Use C-u prefix to get S:, and C-u C-u to get d:.

Run C-h m for a complete list of commands and their keybindings.

If you find bugs or if you think there’s something else this mode could do, please write to

8 VIM Syntax highlighting

File tools/gtypist.vim provides vim syntax highlighting for gtypist lesson files (vim 5.x, 6.x and 7.x (and higher)).

To install it for version 5.x (or any version on Windows), copy the file to where the syntax-files go (for example /usr/share/vim/vim56/syntax/ for Vim 5.6; if everything else fails you can search for e.g. xml.vim) and add this to ~/.vimrc ($HOME/_vimrc on Windows):

autocmd BufNewFile,BufRead *.typ set ft=gtypist 

Installation for Vim >= 6.x is simpler: first create ~/.vim/syntax/: mkdir -p ~/.vim/syntax and put tools/gtypist.vim in there. Finally add this to ~/.vimrc:

autocmd BufNewFile,BufRead *.typ setf gtypist

In case you are using the debian package, gtypist.vim will already be installed for you, but you need to enable it explicitly:

sudo apt-get install vim-addon-manager
vim-addons install gtypist

In any case, make sure that the vimrc file has the following command at the top ahead of all other autocmd-commands:

autocmd!  " Remove ALL autocommands for the current group

(which avoids problems if vimrc is sourced more than once). And if you haven\’t done it already, you need to enable syntax highlighting (this may need to be before the autocmd ... gtypist).

syntax on " turn on syntax highlighting

You can verify that tools/gtypist.vim is active by running :set ft? in vim, which should return filetype=gtypist.

All of this is also mentioned in the README-section of tools/gtypist.vim.

9 Environment Variables

GNU Typist uses the following environment variables:


GNU Typist offers Native Language Support (NLS) with support of the gettext library, this means that if your system supports it, the language of the messages shown by gtypist can be chosen. By now gtypist is distributed with messages in English, Czech, Finnish, French, German and Spanish. To use a particular NLS use the environment variable LANG and set it to the appropriate ‘LL_CC’ combination where ‘LL’ is an ISO 639 two-letter language code and ‘CC’ is an ISO 3166 two-letter country code (e.g. ‘es_ES’ for Spain and de_DE for Germany). In some systems it will be also necessary to set the environment variable LANGUAGE to the same value.

If you want to translate messages to a different language (or if you want to correct a message), please communicate it to


Lists the directories that the program will look in for script files. It has the standard format for paths, that is, a list of directories separated by ‘:’s. To open a script, gtypist will try the following paths: (1) to use the script name alone (2) it will append each one of the directories specified in the variable GTYPIST_PATH and (3) it will append the directory used during the installation process (e.g. /usr/local/share/gtypist or /usr/share/gtypist).


Used by curses to manage the display.


This may need to be set if the path to the terminfo database is different between the system the binary was compiled on and the one it is being run on. For example, in older Slackware systems, the terminfo database resides in /usr/lib/terminfo. On RedHat Linux, it is in /usr/share/terminfo. If the program complains about the terminal type, and the value of TERM is correct, check into this.

10 Errors and omissions

GNU Typist does not go to much effort to minimize terminal output. In particular, the flashing block cursor can cause a lot of cursor movement. Using the terminal’s own cursor will help if this becomes a problem.

In speed tests, the program does not allow backspacing or deletion past the beginning of the screen line, or back through Tab characters. This is purely to simplify screen updating.

Colour curses modes do not seem to work well with UnixWare. In particular, reverse video is not always rendered correctly on some terminal types, and xterms.

Please see the TODO file in the source distribution for more things that need to be fixed.

Appendix A History of GNU Typist

Appendix B GNU Free Documentation License

Version 1.2, November 2002
Copyright © 2000,2001,2002 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301, USA

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

    The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document free in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.

    This License is a kind of “copyleft”, which means that derivative works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license designed for free software.

    We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does. But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference.


    This License applies to any manual or other work, in any medium, that contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it can be distributed under the terms of this License. Such a notice grants a world-wide, royalty-free license, unlimited in duration, to use that work under the conditions stated herein. The “Document”, below, refers to any such manual or work. Any member of the public is a licensee, and is addressed as “you”. You accept the license if you copy, modify or distribute the work in a way requiring permission under copyright law.

    A “Modified Version” of the Document means any work containing the Document or a portion of it, either copied verbatim, or with modifications and/or translated into another language.

    A “Secondary Section” is a named appendix or a front-matter section of the Document that deals exclusively with the relationship of the publishers or authors of the Document to the Document’s overall subject (or to related matters) and contains nothing that could fall directly within that overall subject. (Thus, if the Document is in part a textbook of mathematics, a Secondary Section may not explain any mathematics.) The relationship could be a matter of historical connection with the subject or with related matters, or of legal, commercial, philosophical, ethical or political position regarding them.

    The “Invariant Sections” are certain Secondary Sections whose titles are designated, as being those of Invariant Sections, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. If a section does not fit the above definition of Secondary then it is not allowed to be designated as Invariant. The Document may contain zero Invariant Sections. If the Document does not identify any Invariant Sections then there are none.

    The “Cover Texts” are certain short passages of text that are listed, as Front-Cover Texts or Back-Cover Texts, in the notice that says that the Document is released under this License. A Front-Cover Text may be at most 5 words, and a Back-Cover Text may be at most 25 words.

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    The “Title Page” means, for a printed book, the title page itself, plus such following pages as are needed to hold, legibly, the material this License requires to appear in the title page. For works in formats which do not have any title page as such, “Title Page” means the text near the most prominent appearance of the work’s title, preceding the beginning of the body of the text.

    A section “Entitled XYZ” means a named subunit of the Document whose title either is precisely XYZ or contains XYZ in parentheses following text that translates XYZ in another language. (Here XYZ stands for a specific section name mentioned below, such as “Acknowledgements”, “Dedications”, “Endorsements”, or “History”.) To “Preserve the Title” of such a section when you modify the Document means that it remains a section “Entitled XYZ” according to this definition.

    The Document may include Warranty Disclaimers next to the notice which states that this License applies to the Document. These Warranty Disclaimers are considered to be included by reference in this License, but only as regards disclaiming warranties: any other implication that these Warranty Disclaimers may have is void and has no effect on the meaning of this License.


    You may copy and distribute the Document in any medium, either commercially or noncommercially, provided that this License, the copyright notices, and the license notice saying this License applies to the Document are reproduced in all copies, and that you add no other conditions whatsoever to those of this License. You may not use technical measures to obstruct or control the reading or further copying of the copies you make or distribute. However, you may accept compensation in exchange for copies. If you distribute a large enough number of copies you must also follow the conditions in section 3.

    You may also lend copies, under the same conditions stated above, and you may publicly display copies.


    If you publish printed copies (or copies in media that commonly have printed covers) of the Document, numbering more than 100, and the Document’s license notice requires Cover Texts, you must enclose the copies in covers that carry, clearly and legibly, all these Cover Texts: Front-Cover Texts on the front cover, and Back-Cover Texts on the back cover. Both covers must also clearly and legibly identify you as the publisher of these copies. The front cover must present the full title with all words of the title equally prominent and visible. You may add other material on the covers in addition. Copying with changes limited to the covers, as long as they preserve the title of the Document and satisfy these conditions, can be treated as verbatim copying in other respects.

    If the required texts for either cover are too voluminous to fit legibly, you should put the first ones listed (as many as fit reasonably) on the actual cover, and continue the rest onto adjacent pages.

    If you publish or distribute Opaque copies of the Document numbering more than 100, you must either include a machine-readable Transparent copy along with each Opaque copy, or state in or with each Opaque copy a computer-network location from which the general network-using public has access to download using public-standard network protocols a complete Transparent copy of the Document, free of added material. If you use the latter option, you must take reasonably prudent steps, when you begin distribution of Opaque copies in quantity, to ensure that this Transparent copy will remain thus accessible at the stated location until at least one year after the last time you distribute an Opaque copy (directly or through your agents or retailers) of that edition to the public.

    It is requested, but not required, that you contact the authors of the Document well before redistributing any large number of copies, to give them a chance to provide you with an updated version of the Document.


    You may copy and distribute a Modified Version of the Document under the conditions of sections 2 and 3 above, provided that you release the Modified Version under precisely this License, with the Modified Version filling the role of the Document, thus licensing distribution and modification of the Modified Version to whoever possesses a copy of it. In addition, you must do these things in the Modified Version:

    1. Use in the Title Page (and on the covers, if any) a title distinct from that of the Document, and from those of previous versions (which should, if there were any, be listed in the History section of the Document). You may use the same title as a previous version if the original publisher of that version gives permission.
    2. List on the Title Page, as authors, one or more persons or entities responsible for authorship of the modifications in the Modified Version, together with at least five of the principal authors of the Document (all of its principal authors, if it has fewer than five), unless they release you from this requirement.
    3. State on the Title page the name of the publisher of the Modified Version, as the publisher.
    4. Preserve all the copyright notices of the Document.
    5. Add an appropriate copyright notice for your modifications adjacent to the other copyright notices.
    6. Include, immediately after the copyright notices, a license notice giving the public permission to use the Modified Version under the terms of this License, in the form shown in the Addendum below.
    7. Preserve in that license notice the full lists of Invariant Sections and required Cover Texts given in the Document’s license notice.
    8. Include an unaltered copy of this License.
    9. Preserve the section Entitled “History”, Preserve its Title, and add to it an item stating at least the title, year, new authors, and publisher of the Modified Version as given on the Title Page. If there is no section Entitled “History” in the Document, create one stating the title, year, authors, and publisher of the Document as given on its Title Page, then add an item describing the Modified Version as stated in the previous sentence.
    10. Preserve the network location, if any, given in the Document for public access to a Transparent copy of the Document, and likewise the network locations given in the Document for previous versions it was based on. These may be placed in the “History” section. You may omit a network location for a work that was published at least four years before the Document itself, or if the original publisher of the version it refers to gives permission.
    11. For any section Entitled “Acknowledgements” or “Dedications”, Preserve the Title of the section, and preserve in the section all the substance and tone of each of the contributor acknowledgements and/or dedications given therein.
    12. Preserve all the Invariant Sections of the Document, unaltered in their text and in their titles. Section numbers or the equivalent are not considered part of the section titles.
    13. Delete any section Entitled “Endorsements”. Such a section may not be included in the Modified Version.
    14. Do not retitle any existing section to be Entitled “Endorsements” or to conflict in title with any Invariant Section.
    15. Preserve any Warranty Disclaimers.

    If the Modified Version includes new front-matter sections or appendices that qualify as Secondary Sections and contain no material copied from the Document, you may at your option designate some or all of these sections as invariant. To do this, add their titles to the list of Invariant Sections in the Modified Version’s license notice. These titles must be distinct from any other section titles.

    You may add a section Entitled “Endorsements”, provided it contains nothing but endorsements of your Modified Version by various parties—for example, statements of peer review or that the text has been approved by an organization as the authoritative definition of a standard.

    You may add a passage of up to five words as a Front-Cover Text, and a passage of up to 25 words as a Back-Cover Text, to the end of the list of Cover Texts in the Modified Version. Only one passage of Front-Cover Text and one of Back-Cover Text may be added by (or through arrangements made by) any one entity. If the Document already includes a cover text for the same cover, previously added by you or by arrangement made by the same entity you are acting on behalf of, you may not add another; but you may replace the old one, on explicit permission from the previous publisher that added the old one.

    The author(s) and publisher(s) of the Document do not by this License give permission to use their names for publicity for or to assert or imply endorsement of any Modified Version.


    You may combine the Document with other documents released under this License, under the terms defined in section 4 above for modified versions, provided that you include in the combination all of the Invariant Sections of all of the original documents, unmodified, and list them all as Invariant Sections of your combined work in its license notice, and that you preserve all their Warranty Disclaimers.

    The combined work need only contain one copy of this License, and multiple identical Invariant Sections may be replaced with a single copy. If there are multiple Invariant Sections with the same name but different contents, make the title of each such section unique by adding at the end of it, in parentheses, the name of the original author or publisher of that section if known, or else a unique number. Make the same adjustment to the section titles in the list of Invariant Sections in the license notice of the combined work.

    In the combination, you must combine any sections Entitled “History” in the various original documents, forming one section Entitled “History”; likewise combine any sections Entitled “Acknowledgements”, and any sections Entitled “Dedications”. You must delete all sections Entitled “Endorsements.”


    You may make a collection consisting of the Document and other documents released under this License, and replace the individual copies of this License in the various documents with a single copy that is included in the collection, provided that you follow the rules of this License for verbatim copying of each of the documents in all other respects.

    You may extract a single document from such a collection, and distribute it individually under this License, provided you insert a copy of this License into the extracted document, and follow this License in all other respects regarding verbatim copying of that document.


    A compilation of the Document or its derivatives with other separate and independent documents or works, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an “aggregate” if the copyright resulting from the compilation is not used to limit the legal rights of the compilation’s users beyond what the individual works permit. When the Document is included in an aggregate, this License does not apply to the other works in the aggregate which are not themselves derivative works of the Document.

    If the Cover Text requirement of section 3 is applicable to these copies of the Document, then if the Document is less than one half of the entire aggregate, the Document’s Cover Texts may be placed on covers that bracket the Document within the aggregate, or the electronic equivalent of covers if the Document is in electronic form. Otherwise they must appear on printed covers that bracket the whole aggregate.


    Translation is considered a kind of modification, so you may distribute translations of the Document under the terms of section 4. Replacing Invariant Sections with translations requires special permission from their copyright holders, but you may include translations of some or all Invariant Sections in addition to the original versions of these Invariant Sections. You may include a translation of this License, and all the license notices in the Document, and any Warranty Disclaimers, provided that you also include the original English version of this License and the original versions of those notices and disclaimers. In case of a disagreement between the translation and the original version of this License or a notice or disclaimer, the original version will prevail.

    If a section in the Document is Entitled “Acknowledgements”, “Dedications”, or “History”, the requirement (section 4) to Preserve its Title (section 1) will typically require changing the actual title.


    You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Document except as expressly provided for under this License. Any other attempt to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Document is void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License. However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such parties remain in full compliance.


    The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See

    Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License “or any later version” applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation.

ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

  Copyright (C)  year  your name.
  Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
  under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
  or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
  with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover
  Texts.  A copy of the license is included in the section entitled ``GNU
  Free Documentation License''.

If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the “with…Texts.” line with this:

    with the Invariant Sections being list their titles, with
    the Front-Cover Texts being list, and with the Back-Cover Texts
    being list.

If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.