Exorcising the Evil Alternate Screen (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Mon, 26 Sep 2005

Exorcising the Evil Alternate Screen

I've long wondered why people like the "alternate screen" misfeature which has become mandatory in so many Linux terminals. That's the one where you want to find out the options to ls, so you do man ls, get to the option you were curious about, hit q to get out of man so that you can run ls with the right option -- and the man page disappears, clearing the screen so you can't see the documentation you were just trying to read! What's up with that?

(Sigh ... just another addition to the list of clever innovations that make Linux terminal programs harder to use than any other system's ... like the page up key that doesn't actually page up.)

Anyway, a long time ago I worked out how to get around this irritating misfeature (referred to as "rmcup" on newer terminfo systems; the workaround on older termcap systems was called "tite inhibit"). It's easy in xterm-based programs, but harder in more "modern" terminal programs that don't make it configurable. I guess I never got around to writing it up publically.

Tonight someone asked about it on Linuxchix Techtalk, so I resurrected the old terminfo entry I wrote for use with gnome-terminal (which I'm not actually using because rxvt doesn't need it), and wrote up a sketchy page on it: Exorcising the Evil Alternate Screen.

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[ 19:18 Sep 26, 2005    More linux | permalink to this entry ]