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Re: modifying terminfo via termcapinfo

From: Micah Cowan
Subject: Re: modifying terminfo via termcapinfo
Date: Mon, 07 Sep 2009 12:15:09 -0700
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20090817)

Joahnn Gile wrote:
> So what's wrong here, is termcapinfo not modifying the terminfo entry?

You seem to be misunderstanding the purpose of termcapinfo. Its purpose
is not to modify actual termcap or terminfo entries, in particular the
ones that other applications might see and modify behavior for... its
purpose is to edit _screen's_ interpretation of those entries, to modify
_screen's_ behavior regarding them. A common use, for instance, is to
make screen think that the host terminal doesn't have a "ti" entry, so
that it won't use the alternate buffer.

Not only does screen not alter actual terminfo descriptions (which are
always represented by physical files on the system), but it would be
evil for it to do so. ...I suppose that new terminfo descriptions could
be written to a temporary location, and set TERMINFO, but that quickly
gets expensive. The best way to do what you want, would be to create the
proper terminfo descriptions yourself using the usual means: modifying
the output of infocmp and compiling it with tic.

All that being said, I'm surprised then if TERMCAP gets modified by
termcapinfo commands. It's not clear to me whether that's intentional or
unintentional... certainly TERMCAP provides a means for programs to
modify termcap entries without being evil; perhaps termcap was intended
to serve for both purposes (screen's and applications'), but it was
realized they couldn't treat terminfo the same way, so they simply didn't.

Micah J. Cowan
Programmer, musician, typesetting enthusiast, gamer.
Maintainer of GNU Wget and GNU Teseq

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