Semantics of text virtual console vs. xterm - X

This is a discussion on Semantics of text virtual console vs. xterm - X ; I use both X Windows as well as the text virtual console. I have used the latter in the past because computers were simply not fast enough to keep up as well as text mode could, when doing things like ...

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Thread: Semantics of text virtual console vs. xterm

  1. Semantics of text virtual console vs. xterm

    I use both X Windows as well as the text virtual console. I have used the
    latter in the past because computers were simply not fast enough to keep up
    as well as text mode could, when doing things like rapid scrolling in large
    geometries (like 128x72 characters). Maybe now computers are fast enough.
    In xterm, the scrolling is still not as fast as in text mode, but at least
    now the differences are so dimished as to not matter. Scrolling in xterm
    today is certainly faster than scrolling in text mode was a few years ago.

    So I am looking at what I need to do to migrate from being a regular user
    of the text mode virtual console, to using some kind of terminal emulation
    program under X most effectively. But, as it turns out, speed is not the
    only issue. Speed was merely the most insurmountable issue of the past.
    The remaining issues, I believe, can be addressed. The problem is, I do
    not think I am the one best able to address them. In theory, I could do a
    lot of reading of manuals, documentation, and source code, and figure out
    what to do to change things to work as I need to have them work for most
    effective usage. But I just do not have the time to do that in the near
    time frame. Maybe in 2 or 3 years? My hope is someone else has already
    recognized the issues and found solutions or figure out changes, or at the
    very least, determine what and where to change. If I knew _where_ to do
    the changes, maybe that would be enough (I can write code).

    The first issue is fonts. This one should be fairly simple since there are
    a choice of fonts. I've just found that they are in weird formats, and not
    even all in the same format. A document that would tell me how to put my
    own font designs into a file, and where to put that file, so it can be used
    by xterm or other terminal programs, would be the key to moving forward.

    The second issue is mouse mechanics. This one looks to be more troubling.
    In text mode, the mouse position at any moment is clear and unambiguous.
    This is because it uses a full block inversion over the character cell to
    show the mouse position. In X with xterm (and other applications), that
    position is uncertain. The mouse symbol over text is the "I bar". There
    are multiple pixel level positions the mouse can be moved to. But not all
    of them behave as the mouse being over the character that the "I bar" will
    appear to be over. For example, when highlighting text, unless you move
    the mouse sufficiently far enough to the LEFT SIDE of the first character
    to be highlighted, it will miss that character and start highlighting on
    the character to the right. The same issue in reverse exists at the ending
    character. I need to get this fixed. If the cause of this is in the code
    of the application, or in a library it uses, maybe it is fixable in the
    application. I have seen some applications that change mouse behaviour
    around, so there is hope. But I'm not about to go trying to figure out the
    parts of those applications that change mouse behaviour apart from all the
    other stuff those applications do (writing code is easy ... reading other
    people's code is hard).

    Another aspect of the mouse issue is when doing things like double clicking
    and triple clicking, just what gets highlighted is different. Highlighting
    a word by double clicking highlights a full file path in text mode, but not
    in xterm. That appears to be an issue of what characters are allowed to
    stop the span of the highlight. Changing that, once it is found where they
    are, should, I would think, be simple. But I haven't found where (I have
    only looked in the xterm source code).

    The third issue is to find a way to rapidly switch between different screens
    of text. In text mode, the traditional virtual console involves Alt+FX,
    where FX is one of the "F" function keys on the top row of the keyboard.
    I have, through keyboard mapping, expanded that to so that Alt+X, where X
    is either one of the function keys or one of just about any other key on
    the main part of the keyboard (including space and ESC). I have 63 such
    mappings to virtual consoles, and use them all. Alt+F10, Alt+F11, and
    Alt+F12 are each going to X Windows (I run three instances of X at the
    same time). The rest go to one of 60 different virtual consoles, all of
    which are logged in and used. When I press Alt+X the switch is very rapid.
    Some people have suggested using screen, but it is awkward to use for this
    kind of rapid switching (I sometimes switch back and forth a few times a
    second). I would thus want to have some kind of means to do such rapid
    keyboard based switching while in X. That would not be switching between
    the different instances of X (that's way too slow, anyway). It could be
    switching between different windows of xterm, or subwindows within xterm,
    or different virtual desktops within the same instance of X. Whichever is
    the fastest is the way to go. But how to set that up? Maybe it needs a
    new window manager? Or is one already available that can do that.

    Non-specific advice won't be helpful. Does anyone have any specific advice?

    --
    |---------------------------------------/----------------------------------|
    | Phil Howard KA9WGN (ka9wgn.ham.org) / Do not send to the address below |
    | first name lower case at ipal.net / spamtrap-2008-02-23-1858@ipal.net |
    |------------------------------------/-------------------------------------|

  2. Re: Semantics of text virtual console vs. xterm

    phil-news-nospam@ipal.net wrote:
    >The third issue is to find a way to rapidly switch between different screens
    >of text. In text mode, the traditional virtual console involves Alt+FX,
    >where FX is one of the "F" function keys on the top row of the keyboard.
    >I have, through keyboard mapping, expanded that to so that Alt+X, where X
    >is either one of the function keys or one of just about any other key on
    >the main part of the keyboard (including space and ESC). I have 63 such
    >mappings to virtual consoles, and use them all. Alt+F10, Alt+F11, and
    >Alt+F12 are each going to X Windows (I run three instances of X at the
    >same time). The rest go to one of 60 different virtual consoles, all of
    >which are logged in and used.


    Sheesh. I thought I was a little nuts in the head (I
    use 15 virtual desktops), but sir... you take the cake!
    ;-)

    (I hate to think how long it takes to set that up if you
    log everything out, or reboot, and have to start it all
    again.)

    >When I press Alt+X the switch is very rapid.
    >Some people have suggested using screen, but it is awkward to use for this
    >kind of rapid switching (I sometimes switch back and forth a few times a
    >second). I would thus want to have some kind of means to do such rapid
    >keyboard based switching while in X. That would not be switching between
    >the different instances of X (that's way too slow, anyway). It could be
    >switching between different windows of xterm, or subwindows within xterm,
    >or different virtual desktops within the same instance of X. Whichever is
    >the fastest is the way to go. But how to set that up? Maybe it needs a
    >new window manager? Or is one already available that can do that.
    >
    >Non-specific advice won't be helpful. Does anyone have any specific advice?


    I use the fvwm2 window manager. As noted above, I have
    15 virtual desktops defined. I stack them up in a
    single vertical row. I use two monitors, and the right
    monitor is for "sticky" things like a clock, a
    calculator, xsysinfo, a notepad, and a desktop manager,
    etc, while the left monitor is used for applications.
    The left monitor, for example, often has anything from
    one to three instances of xterm running in each desktop,
    plus perhaps XEmacs and maybe something like The GIMP or
    whatever.

    I often su to different users in different desktops, and
    as one example I do that in order to run 4 different
    instances of the Opera web browser, each under a
    different user, concurrently.

    On the right monitor, up against the left edge
    (centering it for easy access with the mouse) is the
    desktop manager. It has 15 squares and extends from the
    top of the screen to the bottom. To switch from any
    given desktop to another either of two methods can be
    used. One is to click on the square for that screen
    with the mouse. The other is to use Control-UP or
    Control-DOWN keys. I just timed how long it took to go
    from the top to the bottom using keyboard entry, and
    moving from window 1 to window 15, and then back, took 5
    seconds. I'm sure the time is dependent on how fast I
    moved my fingers rather than how fast the switch
    actually takes.

    Note that while I use a single vertical row, any
    combination of vertical and horizontal can be used. The
    default is a 3x3 matrix if I remember right.

    I don't know what the maximum would be, but if I can
    have a 1x15, I'd expect you could do a 15x15 matrix...
    Of course if some of what you do can be handled with
    multiple xterm windows on the same desktop, you won't
    need as many desktops. I don't know if there is a way
    to cycle through the windows open on a given desktop
    other than using the mouse to cause the focus to change.
    (I configure mine to have the focus change if the mouse
    stays on a window for 1 second, but many people prefer
    to have it change only if the mouse is clicked in the
    new window.)

    --
    Floyd L. Davidson
    Ukpeagvik (Barrow, Alaska) floyd@apaflo.com

  3. Re: Semantics of text virtual console vs. xterm

    I demand that Floyd L. Davidson may or may not have written...

    [snip]
    > I stack them up in a single vertical row.


    ITYM "column". ;-)

    [snip]
    --
    | Darren Salt | linux or ds at | nr. Ashington, | Toon
    | RISC OS, Linux | youmustbejoking,demon,co,uk | Northumberland | Army
    | + Use more efficient products. Use less. BE MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT.

    It's hard to be humble when you're perfect.

  4. Re: Semantics of text virtual console vs. xterm

    On Sat, 23 Feb 2008 17:31:11 -0900 Floyd L. Davidson wrote:
    | phil-news-nospam@ipal.net wrote:
    |>The third issue is to find a way to rapidly switch between different screens
    |>of text. In text mode, the traditional virtual console involves Alt+FX,
    |>where FX is one of the "F" function keys on the top row of the keyboard.
    |>I have, through keyboard mapping, expanded that to so that Alt+X, where X
    |>is either one of the function keys or one of just about any other key on
    |>the main part of the keyboard (including space and ESC). I have 63 such
    |>mappings to virtual consoles, and use them all. Alt+F10, Alt+F11, and
    |>Alt+F12 are each going to X Windows (I run three instances of X at the
    |>same time). The rest go to one of 60 different virtual consoles, all of
    |>which are logged in and used.
    |
    | Sheesh. I thought I was a little nuts in the head (I
    | use 15 virtual desktops), but sir... you take the cake!
    | ;-)

    Each of my 3 instances of X have 32 virtual desktops.


    | (I hate to think how long it takes to set that up if you
    | log everything out, or reboot, and have to start it all
    | again.)

    The X virtual desktops start empty. I open windows there as needed. The
    virtual consoles are logged in by a script that runs a program I wrote
    that calls an ioctl() I added to the kernel to stuff input strings into
    the TTYs for the VCs. Some of them are set to a shell prompt and others
    are logged in to other remote computers via ssh and screen.


    |>When I press Alt+X the switch is very rapid.
    |>Some people have suggested using screen, but it is awkward to use for this
    |>kind of rapid switching (I sometimes switch back and forth a few times a
    |>second). I would thus want to have some kind of means to do such rapid
    |>keyboard based switching while in X. That would not be switching between
    |>the different instances of X (that's way too slow, anyway). It could be
    |>switching between different windows of xterm, or subwindows within xterm,
    |>or different virtual desktops within the same instance of X. Whichever is
    |>the fastest is the way to go. But how to set that up? Maybe it needs a
    |>new window manager? Or is one already available that can do that.
    |>
    |>Non-specific advice won't be helpful. Does anyone have any specific advice?
    |
    | I use the fvwm2 window manager. As noted above, I have
    | 15 virtual desktops defined. I stack them up in a
    | single vertical row. I use two monitors, and the right
    | monitor is for "sticky" things like a clock, a
    | calculator, xsysinfo, a notepad, and a desktop manager,
    | etc, while the left monitor is used for applications.
    | The left monitor, for example, often has anything from
    | one to three instances of xterm running in each desktop,
    | plus perhaps XEmacs and maybe something like The GIMP or
    | whatever.

    My 32 virtual desktops are in a 16 vertical by 2 horizontal grid.
    I use only a single monitor at 1280x1024.


    | I often su to different users in different desktops, and
    | as one example I do that in order to run 4 different
    | instances of the Opera web browser, each under a
    | different user, concurrently.

    I have my script that starts Firefox create a new HOME directory
    each time. That's good enough for them to remain as separate
    processes.


    | On the right monitor, up against the left edge
    | (centering it for easy access with the mouse) is the
    | desktop manager. It has 15 squares and extends from the
    | top of the screen to the bottom. To switch from any
    | given desktop to another either of two methods can be
    | used. One is to click on the square for that screen
    | with the mouse. The other is to use Control-UP or
    | Control-DOWN keys. I just timed how long it took to go
    | from the top to the bottom using keyboard entry, and
    | moving from window 1 to window 15, and then back, took 5
    | seconds. I'm sure the time is dependent on how fast I
    | moved my fingers rather than how fast the switch
    | actually takes.

    If there was a way to have X or the window manager switch among the
    many virtual desktops with an Alt+X keystroke, just like virtual
    consoles do (leave Ctrl+Alt+X to drop out of X), that might be a
    good way for me.


    | Note that while I use a single vertical row, any
    | combination of vertical and horizontal can be used. The
    | default is a 3x3 matrix if I remember right.
    |
    | I don't know what the maximum would be, but if I can
    | have a 1x15, I'd expect you could do a 15x15 matrix...

    I probably could. But I need to find a way to make a virtual desktop
    to a fixed key location, so that when I press certain keys I always
    get to a specific desktop no matter where I am. I do that now with
    text VCs (hold Alt and press another character ... I've expanded that
    beyond just the F-function keys).


    | Of course if some of what you do can be handled with
    | multiple xterm windows on the same desktop, you won't
    | need as many desktops. I don't know if there is a way
    | to cycle through the windows open on a given desktop
    | other than using the mouse to cause the focus to change.

    There is a way on the keyboard with fvwm. But it is sequential, not
    direct. Given that existance of windows is very dynamic, I do not see
    how to do it any other way. OTOH, existance of virtual desktops is
    not so dynamic. So it is plausible to assign a fixed key to each.


    | (I configure mine to have the focus change if the mouse
    | stays on a window for 1 second, but many people prefer
    | to have it change only if the mouse is clicked in the
    | new window.)

    I have it configured to focus change if the mouse moves to a window and
    do it immediately. I'd like to modify this so that there exists a button
    on the bar for each window that will fix the focus there, and then it
    stays there until the mouse is clicked outside that window, then it goes
    back to doing the focus on the basis of moving, unless that elsewhere
    click was on a focus button. One thing I do not want is to force a window
    to the top of the pile just to focus on it.

    --
    |---------------------------------------/----------------------------------|
    | Phil Howard KA9WGN (ka9wgn.ham.org) / Do not send to the address below |
    | first name lower case at ipal.net / spamtrap-2008-02-24-1109@ipal.net |
    |------------------------------------/-------------------------------------|

  5. Re: Semantics of text virtual console vs. xterm

    On Sun, 24 Feb 2008 17:03:18 +0000 Darren Salt wrote:
    | I demand that Floyd L. Davidson may or may not have written...
    |
    | [snip]
    |> I stack them up in a single vertical row.
    |
    | ITYM "column". ;-)

    Unless he is British. They make everything into a row, there ;-)

    --
    |---------------------------------------/----------------------------------|
    | Phil Howard KA9WGN (ka9wgn.ham.org) / Do not send to the address below |
    | first name lower case at ipal.net / spamtrap-2008-02-24-2212@ipal.net |
    |------------------------------------/-------------------------------------|

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