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Is there some way to inspect which .Xresources settings are in effect at the moment (unlike xrdb -query)? For example, I'm on a host which doesn't seem to respect *reverseVideo: true, but I don't know whether that is because I wrote it the wrong way (even *florb: glorb doesn't raise an error when running xrdb -merge $HOME/.Xresources), because the setting is not supported, or some other reason.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

xrdb -query lists the resources that are explicitly loaded on the X server.

appres lists the resources that an application would receive. This includes system defaults (typically found in a directories like /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/app-defaults or /etc/X11/app-defaults) as well as the resources explicitly set on the server with xrdb. You can restrict a particular class and instance, e.g. appres XTerm foo to see what resources apply to an xterm invoked with xterm -name foo.

The X server only stores a list of settings. It cannot know whether a widget will actually make use of these settings. Invalid resource names go unnoticed because you are supposed to be able to set resources at a high level in the hierarchy, and they will only apply to the components for which they are relevant and not overridden.

X resource specs obey fairly intricate precedence rules. If one of your settings doesn't seem to apply, the culprit is sometimes a system default that takes precedence because it's more specific. Look at the output of appres Class to see if there's a system setting for something.reverseVideo. If your application is one of the few that support the Editres protocol, you can inspect its resource tree with the editres program.

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There is a difference as to if resources are loaded into an X11 server and they're loaded by a client. For instance, you could change the server's resources after launching a client.

To get the current server resources, you can use 'xrdb -query -all'.

For getting the current client resources, I'm not aware of a solution, but editres(1) will allow you to send resources to a compliant client while it is running. You'll probably have luck with applications that use the Xaw and Motif-era toolkits, but less (or no) luck with GTK and QT applications. A good example is 'xterm', you can turn the scrollbar on and off via editres without restarting the client.

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Doesn't xrdb -query -all do what you want?

I have some fairly unorthodox settings loaded at X-startup from my .Xresources, and it gives them back to me:

 6:14AM 68 % xrdb -all -query
XTerm*VT100*translations:       #override \n <Key>F2: insert-selection(PRIMARY,CUT_BUFFER0)
XTerm*VT100.charClass:  33:48,35:48,37:48,42:48,45-47:48,64:48,95:48,126:48
XTerm*VT100.cutNewLine: false
XTerm*VT100.cutToBeginningOfLine:       false
XTerm*VT100.saveLines:  1000
XTerm*VT100.scrollBar:  true
scrollstyle:    plain
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