I opened terminal windows and I got a message

your screen size %d%d is bogus. Expect trouble

I closed the terminal and the next time I opened terminal, the message didn't show up.

What is this message and why did I receive it?


This message comes from (perhaps other places) procps, which does a quick check to determine the screen width for ps command's notion of width.

procps makes this check in set_screen_size, e.g., if the screen size is too small to print anything useful:

  if((screen_cols<9) || (screen_rows<2))
    fprintf(stderr,"Your %dx%d screen size is bogus. Expect trouble.\n",
      screen_cols, screen_rows

You might see the same code (via cut/paste) in other programs, but this is the most likely one.

As to why the problem occurred: when starting a terminal emulator, it can be multiple processes which communicate, sharing the information about the pseudo-terminal connection. Sometimes, the information is not shared rapidly enough, causing (usually) minor errors in the terminal settings.

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