I'm playing around with the layout saving feature of i3. For that I want to assign names to urxvt instances that I launch. However, whenever I use the -name option, the font is displayed differently.

If for example I use

urxvt -e ncmpcpp -s playlist

The fonts look different to when I use

urxvt -name topleft -e ncmpcpp -s playlist

Does anyone know why that is? I can upload screenshots if necessary, it's just that font rendering looks bad when I give the -name option. Color theme etc. is as it should be. And it's no issue with ncmpcpp, the "dropdown" terminal in my i3 config has the same problem.

2 Answers 2


You evidently configured the font for a specific application instance rather than for an application class. Instance and class are concepts of X resources. The -name command line parameter sets the instance name (defaulting to the name of the executable); the class name is always URxvt (plus Rxvt used as a fallback).

In X resource names, conventionally, class names start with an uppercase letter and instance names start with a lowercase letter.

To make your settings always apply, set URxvt.font rather than urxvt.font, etc.


It's in the manual page:

-name name
Specify the application name under which resources are to be obtained, rather than the default executable file name. Name should not contain '.' or '*' characters. Also sets the icon and title name.

When you change the application name, it cannot find the resource-file which tells which fonts to use.

You might find this more useful:

-title text
Window title (-T still respected); the default title is the basename of the program specified after the -e option, if any, otherwise the application name; resource title.

  • Thanks for the answer. I use the -name option because then the name gets used by the i3-save-tree command: "swallows": [ { // "class": "^URxvt$", // "instance": "^urxvt$", // "title": "^ncmpcpp\\ 0\\.8$", // "transient_for": "^$" } ], If I use -name, i3-save-tree uses it in the "instance": field. Using -title does not help there. I followed this blogpost: slackword.net/?p=733 Is there any way to make it find the resource-file with the -name option?
    – Florian
    Commented Aug 26, 2017 at 23:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .