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The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox-tech mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox-tech] Cygwin's Identity Crisis
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Re: [vox-tech] Cygwin's Identity Crisis



On Tue, 8 Mar 2005, Richard S. Crawford wrote:

> 
> And behold, Peter Jay Salzman flailed at a keyboard and did expound:
> 
> >    export TERM=linux
> 
> That didn't work, but:
> 
>      export TERM=xterm
> 
> worked just fine.

In the beginning, there were toggle switches, but there was much rejoicing
when electric typewriters were connected to the computer by RS-232 serial
connections.  The platen did return to the beginning of the line, and did
advance to the next line, but the paper did tend to feed wrong when the
platen were rolled the wrong way, so line-up motions were avoided.

But confusion did spread over which codes should mean what when more than
two codes were used.  Amid this babel, did ASCII come to be by the
cooperation and agreement of companies willing to send engineers to
meetings in boring places.  And while many codes were defined, many others
were not, and a broom called the "ESCape" code was defined to sweep these
arguments under the rug.

So with the invention of the Video Display Terminal and the
truck-sized hole called ESC began the proliferation of terminals
programmed to do everything but brew coffee (that came later).

Lo, but many of these new features were indeed the same, though triggered
by different codes, so with many expletives programmers tried to build a
unified way to invoke these features, using a database on the computer
keyed by the "terminal type", and for awhile terminals did
continue to proliferate.  Among this babel, one common code was adopted to
cause the terminal to tell the computer what its type is, and thus did the
memory of how the babel were tamed begin to fade.

Then came the X server, a terminal so powerful it was part of a computer,
and could pretend to be more than one terminal at a time using software,
and so was born xterm and its offspring.  With this came the use of
networks, still pretending to be serial connections, so that it became
unclear indeed which computer were doing what.

So by choice of xterm or one of its children, or settings thereof, the
pretense is begun, and passed to the computer, which might or might not be
the same one that the X server is running on. If vi does not find the
terminal type, it is because the name it spoke when asked was not in the
database on the computer running vi.

The terminal "cygwin" is most likely a superset of the "xterm" terminal
command set, so if the computer is told that the terminal is xterm then
some minimal functionality may be used.  Lo, but the right and proper way
is to add "cygwin" to the database on the computer running vi. [1]

---
[1] http://sources.redhat.com/ml/cygwin/2000-08/msg00781.html

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