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Status of .Xdefaults and app-defaults

When, in X, are the resources files ~/.Xdefaults and those in
/usr/X11R6lib/X11/app-defaults used, and when are they not used ?

>From the O'Reilly book 'X User Tools',page 385/6 I understand:
if you use xrdb, no application will look anymore in .Xdefaults .
I don't think this is the whole truth.

Several scenarios are possible:
- their role is fixed by the source or some compiled-in option:
  * they always set the defaults
  * they only set the defaults if they are not explicitly
    overridden by the load option of xrdb
  * they are never used if you xrdb, even if you only use its merge option  
- their role is completely defined by the use of xrdb:
  if you don't mention them to xrdb, they are completely ignored.
I suppose the answers to these question are not the same for
.Xdefaults and app-defaults/*

Egbert Bouwman - Keizersgracht 197 II - 1016 DS  Amsterdam - 020 6257991

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