There are several reasons why the standard X mouse cursors are hard to track for some people:
In all cases it might help to use enlarged mouse cursors. Ideally this job should be done by a single X program that automatically enlarges every mouse cursor.
To my knowledge there is no simple way to write a utility like this, because the X protocol has no provision to query mouse cursors. For more details see section Technical discussion below.
If we aim for a less general goal, though, something can be done:
There is a set of standard mouse cursors that can be found in the
cursor font (try
xfd -fn cursor to look at it). Most programs use
these mouse cursors and the key idea is to replace the standard cursor
font with an enlarged version.
The motivation for this MINIHOWTO was a visually impaired co-student who asked me how to enlarge the mouse cursor under X. After I found out how this can be done, I wrote an initial version of this document. The knowledge about the method described here does not seem to be common, so I decided to share it and submitted this document as a Linux MINIHOWTO, despite the fact that it is not specific to Linux at all. As all other MINIHOWTOs it can be found in the home of of the Linux Documentation Project (LDP).
The master of this document is maintained in the SGML/linuxdoc format. This makes it possible to automatically provide versions in the following formats (which can be found in the same place as the master): html, text, LaTeX, DVI, PostScript, GNU info.
Shinobu Miyata has done a Japanese translation of this MINIHOWTO. It can be found in http://i11www.ira.uka.de/~schneid/jp/X11-big-cursor/.
Follow the steps detailed below. If you don't want to get and compile the bdfresize package yourself, you can skip to step 3 and download a magnified font instead of creating it.
zcat bdfresize-1.4.tar.Z | tar xf - cd bdfresize-1.4 xmkmf makeOn Linux you probably have to use:
make CCOPTIONS='-include /usr/include/bsd/bsd.h' clean all
mkdir $HOME/fonts bdfresize -f 2 cursor.bdf | bdftopcf >$HOME/fonts/cursor2.pcf mkfontdir $HOME/fontsI have prepared some cursor fonts with the following magnification factors: 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 16. You can download one of them an copy it to
$HOME/fontsif you don't want to use bdfresize.
.xsessionfile: before any X client (that uses cursors) is started the following commands must be executed:
xset +fp $HOME/fonts xsetroot -cursor_name X_cursor
That's it—now all mouse cursors should have doubled in size.
cursor, file name does not matter)—that is no problem as
bdfresizedoes not change the font name.
xset +fp(as opposed to
$HOME/fonts/will be visible only after the command
mkfontdir $HOME/fonts; xset fp rehashand only in newly started X clients (more exactly: for newly created cursors).
xset +fp pathmay not work on a X-Terminal. In this case a font server (see the section How to use a fontserver) can be used if supported by the X-Terminal or some other method to install the font on the X-Terminal (this can generally only be done by your system administrator).
decw$cursorfonts and any other cursor font you may encounter.
Is it possible to write a X program that enlarges cursors automatically?
Use the XTestCompareCursor from the XTEST extension. For all windows that the mouse pointer enters compare the cursor of this window with a set of `known' cursors (e. g. from the cursor font). If the cursor is found, replace it with an enlarged version, otherwise either leave it alone or substitute a standard cursor. This will only work where the XTest extension is available.
Write a proxy X server that relays all client requests
unchanged to the real X server, except that it intercepts all requests
corresponing to the
XCreate*Cursor requests should be modified to use
an enlarged cursor.
This proxy server simulates a new display, e. g.
clients that connect to this display (e. g.
:1) are displayed on the real server (normally
:0) and their
mouse cursors are enlarged automatically. The mouse cursors of clients
that connect to
:0 will remain unchanged.
Here are some ideas for rather simple X programs that might make mouse cursors easier to track.
A more demanding project would be mouse trails à la windoze, i. e. when the mouse is moved and the mouse cursor needs to be drawn in a different position, then the old mouse cursor does not disappear at once, but after a short delay. Mouse trails would be probably best implemented in a X server, but it might be feasible to do it as a X client, or better as a proxy server (see section Technical discussion for details).
A font server is a net service that provides a set of X11 fonts with a simple protocol. It can be queried which fonts it provides and will supply the font bitmap data on request.
You might want to use a font server to provide the X server with a modified cursor font, instead of telling it where to find the font on the file system.
This method is especially handy if you use several machines that don't share a common file system or if you use X terminals that support the font server protocol.
A font server program and associated tools comes with the X11R5+ distribution (AFAIK).
Read the manual pages fs(1), fslsfonts(1) (or
xfs(1), xfslsfonts(1) under X11R6) and try it—it isn't
hard. Say, you are running the server on host
on port 7100. You can test the setup with the command
fslsfonts -server some.host.edu:7100
To actually use the server issue the command
xset +fp tcp/some.host.edu:7100
which should return without an error message.
If you have set up a font server simply use
comes with the font server.
Alternatively you may try
getbdf which can dump any installed
X11 font to a bdf file.