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iTerm2 - Mac OS Terminal Replacement
July 20, 2011 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Although Apple's OS X operating system is making inroads with power users, providing Apple style and usability over a FreeBSD-derived UNIX-certified architecture, many find the built-in terminal emulator sadly lacking both UNIX feel and Apple polish. Fortunately, MeFi's own jewzilla has picked up the ball on the most popular third-party Terminal replacement, iTerm, and rolled out something altogether new and wonderful: iTerm2. [via mefi projects]
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism (86 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love iTerm, but it is slightly confusing that I'm currently running iTerm2 1.0.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:07 AM on July 20, 2011


One thing that all terminals fail to do is do proper mouse control. If I have a long command line, I want to be able to click on where I put the cursor. Yes, it's probably bash's fault, but y'know, mice are nothing new and being quarter of a century behind users' needs is no longer quaint, but actively pants.
posted by scruss at 8:18 AM on July 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


One thing that all terminals fail to do is do proper mouse control. If I have a long command line, I want to be able to click on where I put the cursor. Yes, it's probably bash's fault, but y'know, mice are nothing new and being quarter of a century behind users' needs is no longer quaint, but actively pants.

This is one reason why I've started doing more and more of my shell interaction from within Emacs using ansi-term-mode.
posted by grouse at 8:23 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not to Apple-jack this thread but Lion has added a couple new features to Terminal.app.

iTerm2 looks like it has some neat features. I'm probably going to stay with the default Terminal because I have my keyboard shortcuts set up and I'm boring.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:24 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like that "Unixyness" is a highlighted feature. I may check this out; IT is slowly taking away engineer's Ubuntu boxen and replacing them with Mac Minis and I've heard some grousing about the terminal (among other issues). So far I've resisted but it will happen eventually and since I do about 50% of my work in a terminal, I'd like a decent one.
posted by octothorpe at 8:32 AM on July 20, 2011


One thing that all terminals fail to do is do proper mouse control. If I have a long command line, I want to be able to click on where I put the cursor. Yes, it's probably bash's fault, but y'know, mice are nothing new and being quarter of a century behind users' needs is no longer quaint, but actively pants.

set -o vi

vi navigation: not as clumsy or random as a mouse, an elegant scheme from a more civilized age.
posted by kmz at 8:32 AM on July 20, 2011 [16 favorites]


Lion really deserves a thread of its own, but I don't have the time to craft a post at the moment...
posted by entropicamericana at 8:32 AM on July 20, 2011


Ars Technica has a an informative 40,000 word review if their servers ever come back online.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:37 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


grouse: xterm has an experimental mode that enables mouse control of readline (which is what bash uses for its command line). It has pretty much zero documentation, so I can't get it to work, but the pieces are there...
posted by zsazsa at 8:37 AM on July 20, 2011


Was thinking of crafting a lion askme thread.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:41 AM on July 20, 2011


no longer quaint, but actively pants.

Heh, if ever a phrase deserved to be a MetaFilter tagline...
posted by adamdschneider at 8:43 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


ok, seriously, focus-follows-mouse people, you're really still alive? That's a bad feature that is an artifact of badly written X window managers that people simply got used to. It's not "unixy". It's busted.
posted by GuyZero at 8:45 AM on July 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


One thing that all terminals fail to do is do proper mouse control. If I have a long command line, I want to be able to click on where I put the cursor.

rxvt-unicode does this (Shift-LeftClick). Plus has searchable scrollback, Perl support, blindingly fast output, real select,extend,paste support, but a bit lacking on good TTF support (not as pretty as the gnome/VTE based terminals).
posted by zengargoyle at 8:45 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


ok, seriously, focus-follows-mouse people, you're really still alive?

And breeding, like a zombie. But with laptops.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll spare us another Apple post today by mentioning that Apple has released OS X Lion and updated the MacBook Air.

There is still no word on whether the Intel video chipset matches the old MacBook Air's nVidia chipset, but various other features should compensate any graphics downgrade, well nobody buys an Air for video games anyways.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2011


ok, seriously, focus-follows-mouse people, you're really still alive?

Not only do I use focus-follows-mouse, I also use strict window tiling. Free floating windows is such a bad use of screen space and I don't know why people put up with it.
posted by fuq at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not only do I use focus-follows-mouse, I also use strict window tiling.

Exactly. Focus-follows-mouse with overlapping floating windows sucks; focus-follows-mouse with tiling windows is an epiphany.
posted by enn at 8:53 AM on July 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was just thinking about how glad I am that I have ITerm/2 available!
posted by melatonic at 8:55 AM on July 20, 2011


fuq and enn, what window manager setup do you recommend for f-f-m and tiling?
posted by a small part of the world at 8:58 AM on July 20, 2011


It's not "unixy". It's busted.

It saves me a click. More than that, it usually saves me having to fully grab the mouse. I can just nudge and go back home: to the keyboard.

I want to be able to click on where I put the cursor. Yes, it's probably bash's fault

I used to want this, but now that I've gotten the emacs keybindings of readline a little more mastered (M-f/M-b for instance, but I bet M-a/M-e would also help) I need this less and less. It takes me a couple more button clicks, but it saves me having to take my hands off the keyboard, home in with the mouse cursor, get back to the keyboard, etc.
posted by DU at 8:58 AM on July 20, 2011


If I have a long command line, I want to be able to click on where I put the cursor.

Terminal.app does this.
posted by nicwolff at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've been using iTerm2 for several months now on my work computer. It works well, I love the split pane feature, and it lets me use the lovely Solarized color scheme.
posted by treepour at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2011


fuq and enn, what window manager setup do you recommend for f-f-m and tiling?

I'm KDE4.6 with the Bespin window decorations, which allows me to put the title bar on the left side of the window which makes moving windows around columns very easy. I came around to it after a bunch of experimentation and it's a great workflow for me. The setting for tiling is somewhere in the Window Behavior settings pane.
posted by fuq at 9:03 AM on July 20, 2011


what window manager setup do you recommend for f-f-m and tiling?

You want xmonad
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:04 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


fuq and enn, what window manager setup do you recommend for f-f-m and tiling?

I use ion3 (actually notion, its trademark-unencumbered fork) and have for years but due to the weird licensing problems and the fact that the maintainer has abandoned it it's hard to recommend that anyone move to it at this point. I have heard good things about the awesome window manager as a modern and maintained alternative.
posted by enn at 9:04 AM on July 20, 2011


I've still miss sloppy-focus with floating windows after almost a decade using MacBooks (see superuser).

Any recommendations for tiling window managers though? I'll eventually settle down, live in one city, and buy a desktop. I'd always run Linux for a desktop machine, even if I still like Mac OS X for laptops.

Btw, I've always found that Mc OS X's BSD kernel has vastly inferior performance compared to the Linux kernel. It'll even hang the machine while reading bad sectors, seriously.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:06 AM on July 20, 2011


Solarized works in terminal.app as well, doesn't it?

Cool post, I'll definitely give iTerm2 a try.
posted by Kwine at 9:07 AM on July 20, 2011


Not to Apple-jack this thread

You know, there are far fewer My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic YouTube videos dedicated to Applejack than you'd think. Thus, my comedy link plans are ruined.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:09 AM on July 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


many find the built-in terminal emulator sadly lacking both UNIX feel and Apple polish.

I use Terminal everyday, it never occurred to me it "lacked a UNIX feel." Does anyone have examples? Also, why do you need a mouse inside vim?
posted by four panels at 9:11 AM on July 20, 2011


So I sort of get tiling windows if you're coding but I need multiple big windows frequently enough that it's just not a practical daily approach. Plus it makes me think of Windows 1.0.

And if you're so quick to get back to the keyboard, just navigate the GUI with the keyboard. I once had a thinkpad where the built-in pointer died and given a little practice it's actually not so bad to simply not use a mouse. Especially if you're coding.
posted by GuyZero at 9:14 AM on July 20, 2011


So I sort of get tiling windows if you're coding but I need multiple big windows frequently enough that it's just not a practical daily approach.

Multiple big windows are not incompatible with tiling. ion3 supports tabbing many windows within each tiled area—this is why I haven't switched to xmonad, which doesn't do this, or at least not sanely. And of course I can run full-screen windows in separate full-screen workspaces.
posted by enn at 9:20 AM on July 20, 2011


Does the Cmd-Option remapping let you use the standard Bash movement commands using Alt that don't normally work in Terminal?
posted by invitapriore at 9:20 AM on July 20, 2011


Multiple big windows are not incompatible with tiling. ion3 supports tabbing many windows within each tiled area—this is why I haven't switched to xmonad, which doesn't do this, or at least not sanely.

You are clearly not applying enough layout combinators!
posted by silby at 9:23 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


the lengths neckbeards will go to use one less click per operation
posted by LogicalDash at 9:42 AM on July 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Solarized works in terminal.app as well, doesn't it?

Yeah, I guess it does. I don't remember why I went the iTerm2 route for Solarized, but I suspect there was some pain-in-the-ass thing I didn't have the patience to work through with regard to using it in Terminal.app. Or maybe it was just an excuse to try a terminal replacement.
posted by treepour at 9:50 AM on July 20, 2011


the lengths neckbeards will go to use one less click per operation

Neckbeards? Really? I shave off my neck hair at least once a week.

Seriously, though, when you're doing lots of repetitive keyboard operations quickly, extra mouse clicks quickly become tedious and inefficient. And it's not just the clicks, but what's required for them to happen: you're temporarily halting your workflow to move to completely a different device that employs a fundamentally different navigational metaphor. Over time, that constant context-switching becomes quite irritating and taxing.
posted by treepour at 9:59 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Back in my day, we used xterm, and liked it!

(Just kidding. Nobody likes xterm)
posted by schmod at 10:03 AM on July 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


what window manager setup do you recommend for f-f-m and tiling?

dwm is fast, easy to configure and use.

I can see the appeal of xmonad, but unless you're already familiar with Haskell it's a complete beast to set up and configure.

Although Apple's OS X operating system is making inroads with power users, providing Apple style and usability over a FreeBSD-derived UNIX-certified architecture...

I can't tell if that's a subtle joke, or if you wrote that sentence five years ago and have been saving it up for a special occasion.
posted by jack_mo at 10:13 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


the lengths neckbeards will go to use one less click per operation

Not favoriting your comment == one less click

so I'm really torn about which way to go there
posted by davejay at 10:16 AM on July 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


A reduction from 100 clicks to 99 isn't that big a deal. A reduction from 1 to 0 is a very big deal.

...you're temporarily halting your workflow to move to completely a different device that employs a fundamentally different navigational metaphor. Over time, that constant context-switching becomes quite irritating and taxing.

Yep. Not only that, I can type almost as fast as I can think what I want to type. I cannot mouse nearly that fast. Time spent mousing is time I could be doing 10x or more the work via the keyboard.
posted by DU at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Huh. I've been using iTerm2 for a while and had no idea someone from MetaFilter was responsible for it. Small world!

Thanks jewzilla!

Yeah, I don't spend much time in Projects, sorry I missed that.
posted by CancerMan at 10:28 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


> set -o vi

You just reinforced my point. Only in the Unix world is it considered acceptable to suggest an even more contrived non-solution and indicate that the user is wrong to request an obvious improvement in usability.
posted by scruss at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow, I've been using iTerm2 for months and I didn't even know it had most of these features.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2011


Terminal.app does this.

Huzzah! I am an infrequent Terminal user, and a horrible typest. Thank you!
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:38 AM on July 20, 2011


Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights served.

C:\>

posted by blue_beetle at 10:52 AM on July 20, 2011


missed it by -that- much
posted by blue_beetle at 10:53 AM on July 20, 2011


horrible typest

I see what you did there.
posted by kmz at 11:00 AM on July 20, 2011


Some of those features are actually pretty nifty, I might try to write a rxvt-unicode extension for the mouseless select.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:09 AM on July 20, 2011


You know, there's inefficiency associated with mousing, but I also find there's inefficiency associated with switching back to keyboard-only interaction when you've been mousing a lot.

So for instance, if I've been spending a lot of time in Illustrator or a web browser window recently, forcing myself back into the vim-ly keyboard-only mindset is actually kind of strenuous — and breaks my concentration in just the same way that reaching for the mouse breaks my concentration on days when I've been living mostly in vim.

I suppose one solution would be to use a keyboard-only web browser, and quit using the Finder, and quit using menus, and.... I know people who have done that and they're happy with it. For me the solution was to set vim and tmux to recognize mouse clicks. Now, regardless of whether my brain's in newfangled-GUI-with-mouse-mode or in oldschool-terminal-mode, the first thing I think to do just works and I don't have to break my concentration.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:33 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, there are far fewer My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic YouTube videos dedicated to Applejack than you'd think. Thus, my comedy link plans are ruined.
I'm starting to get the sense that there are a lot of MLP fans here on the blue who are sane and well-balanced, which is refreshing.

On Linux/Unix systems, I've only ever used xterm. are there terminal replacements on there that have a lot of iTerm2's features, or are they mostly new?

also vi editing just makes more sense, once you get used to it. it's like a 3-day learning curve.
posted by vogon_poet at 11:35 AM on July 20, 2011


If there's anything I've learned from usability testing it's that:
1: Subjective views of efficiency are almost always wrong.
2: The costs associated with different ways of doing tasks are almost always trivial compared to the large quantity of time you spend staring at a screen going "drrrrrrrrr...."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:37 AM on July 20, 2011


I might try to write a rxvt-unicode extension for the mouseless select.

keyboard select for rxvt-unicode
posted by Zed at 12:40 PM on July 20, 2011


I'll spare us another Apple post today by mentioning that Apple has released OS X Lion and updated the MacBook Air. - jeffburdges

Wait wait wait. Did they get rid of the Macbook? I don't see it anywhere.

On topic. I'll play with this a bit. I use a Mac at home and am on Linux and Unix all day at work. I tend to fire up an xterm regardless of where I am because I do need to launch X applications from time to time. I tend to not customize a lot since I bounce between redhat, aix, hp and so on. I know, boring and time consuming. But it has helped me transition and jump from *nix to *nix over the decade and a half I've worked on unix variants.
posted by Nadie_AZ at 1:53 PM on July 20, 2011


Wait wait wait. Did they get rid of the Macbook? I don't see it anywhere.

They did. The logic being, I think, that if you want a portable laptop without much graphical oomph you probably just want a MacBook Air - the new low-voltage dual-core Sandy Bridge chips are good enough to manage most other things, and the SSD speeds cover for the processor dip in perception terms.

Basically, MacBook users have sort of been upsold, either to portability (13" MacBook Air) or power (13" Macbook Pro).
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:13 PM on July 20, 2011


I can see the appeal of xmonad, but unless you're already familiar with Haskell it's a complete beast to set up and configure.

1. Start xmonad with the default configuration.
2. Download a nicer xmonad configuration.
3. (Optional) Modify it.
4. mod-Q to reload with the new configuration.
posted by swift at 2:29 PM on July 20, 2011


They did. The logic being, I think, that if you want a portable laptop without much graphical oomph you probably just want a MacBook Air - the new low-voltage dual-core Sandy Bridge chips are good enough to manage most other things, and the SSD speeds cover for the processor dip in perception terms.

Basically, MacBook users have sort of been upsold, either to portability (13" MacBook Air) or power (13" Macbook Pro).


I'm sorely tempted to go and buy a refurbished Macbook for work (late 2010 model) and upgrade the RAM. I like the unibody feature and the cost.

My HP with Ubuntu is getting pounded pretty hard (multiple VirtualBox sessions, xterms galore). Cost is a factor. Bad idea?
posted by Nadie_AZ at 2:31 PM on July 20, 2011


Man, I use focus-follows-mouse (and a non-tiling wm (fluxbox, because I'm too lazy to change to openbox or a tiling manager or really do anything)) and when I found out about it in … whenever it was, like 2002 or something, I thought it was the bees' knees. What's supposed to be so bad about it?

Tiling window manager users, I wonder about their interactions with things like pidgin or other IM clients, though I think I saw an xmonad setup that just used an entire separate workspace for them and had an indicator on other workspaces for when new messages came in. It seems like that sort of application, that will create new windows under its own steam, could mess up the elegance of a tiling wm.

Anyway, I use iTerm2 on my laptop and I like it a lot. Thanks, jewzilla!
posted by kenko at 2:52 PM on July 20, 2011


the lengths neckbeards will go to use one less click per operation

Not only that, but you often have to deal with finding a safe place to click. I don't always want to click on something or move my cursor, sometimes I just want to be able to type. That means I have to know the behavior of the application and find a place to click that's a no-op for my next action. The title bar is usually safe, but that can be kind of a remote or small target given the size of monitors these days.
posted by jefftang at 2:59 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


On topic. I'll play with this a bit. I use a Mac at home and am on Linux and Unix all day at work. I tend to fire up an xterm regardless of where I am because I do need to launch X applications from time to time.

At least as of 10.6 (I don't believe this worked in 10.4, but I never used 10.5), Terminal.app can launch X apps - I run X forwarded apps from Terminal.app all the time, and it starts X for me automagically.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:07 PM on July 20, 2011


Subjective views of efficiency are almost always wrong.

I gauge myself using Emacs vs several of my coworkers using Eclipse almost every day. It seems like every additional tool they use (ant, maven, etc) slows them down by 20%. 40% of it's a GUI thing. It's seriously pathetic.
posted by DU at 4:45 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least as of 10.6 (I don't believe this worked in 10.4, but I never used 10.5), Terminal.app can launch X apps

Oh yeah, it works in 10.5. Apple apparently made X11 a lot smarter in 10.5. One of the big things that made me happy at work when they upgraded my workstation to 10.5 -- if your X server isn't running when you fire up a port-forwarded X app in Terminal, the X server starts all on its own.
posted by indubitable at 5:12 PM on July 20, 2011


the lengths neckbeards will go to use one less click per operation

There's actually a few bits and pieces for Linux that don't require any clicking, you just hover over a selector for a period of time. It's not faster than clicking but my neck gets cold in the winter.

actually it's for accessibility purposes
posted by fuq at 5:19 PM on July 20, 2011


Funny, the Mac users at work were chatting on internal IRC about iTerm2 this afternoon. Wonder if any of them read about it from this thread.
posted by octothorpe at 6:15 PM on July 20, 2011


> Terminal.app does this.

Not for me with Terminal.app version 2.1.2 (273.1)
posted by scruss at 6:30 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does for me with the same version, scruss. Although the option doesn't appear, if you try option-clicking the cursor jumps to that point.
posted by coriolisdave at 6:34 PM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Slightly better phrased: Although the option does not appear on the preference pane, as suggested by the linked article, it appears to be enabled by default.
posted by coriolisdave at 6:34 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Same version here scruss, and it works for me.
posted by nicwolff at 6:53 PM on July 20, 2011


DU: It's more probably the case that you're just fucking awesome, and an outlier.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:35 PM on July 20, 2011


if you try option-clicking the cursor jumps to that point

omg omg omg
posted by freebird at 10:19 PM on July 20, 2011


iTerm2 is the best thing to happen on my Mac in years. Being able to set up a system wide hotkey to switch to no-frills full screen command-line awesomeness? Priceless. 256 color terminal emulation (solarized colorscheme!), mouse support in vim, split windows and tabs? Gravy. What a wonderful app.
posted by mrPalomar72 at 11:56 PM on July 20, 2011


It's more probably the case that you're just fucking awesome, and an outlier.

Actually, I'm thinking of a particular coworker that's pretty good. She can develop algorithms just as well, if not better, than I can and do math problems faster for sure. She *reads* code just as fast but *develops* it much, much slower. And I've watched her: She has to click all over the place to find things, switching input contexts and whatnot.

For tasks doable via text, a single button of input combined with the need to precisely position a pointer is never going to equal the speed of a 10 fingers working simultaneously.

(That said, part of her problem is also Java.)
posted by DU at 3:05 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems like that sort of application, that will create new windows under its own steam, could mess up the elegance of a tiling wm.

Xmonad solves this problem pretty well by having a very versatile configuration: You can send windows from specific applications to their own workspaces, as well as instruct it to float specific windows by default to avoid messing up your layout.

It takes some setting up and is not 100% foolproof --- developers not considering how their application will behave under a tilling WM and/or ignoring standards are partly to blame --- but it's a very acceptable trade-off for a fast, stable, almost entirely keyboard-driven desktop experience.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:32 AM on July 21, 2011


DU: For tasks doable via text, a single button of input combined with the need to precisely position a pointer is never going to equal the speed of a 10 fingers working simultaneously.

In the general case though, the empirical evidence is clear that mouse-selection generally beats keyboard navigation for most people. Eclipse and Java may be an exception that an overcomplicated GUI doesn't match a simple keyboard interface.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:31 AM on July 21, 2011


Selection and navigation, maybe. I'm talking about doing actual work.
posted by DU at 6:16 AM on July 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Does for me with the same version, scruss

Hmm. All I get is the cursor turning to a crosshair when I hold down option and beepage weirdness when I actually click. I'm trying to move the cursor to edit a bash command line - are you doing something different?
posted by scruss at 7:58 AM on July 21, 2011


Point-and-click interfaces work really well when you're choosing among five to nine or so obvious, well-understood things. But lots of applications offer thousands of choices. I'm skeptical of any claims that something like click "Edit", click "preferences", click "system", click "Language" (the 4th tab), click "Keyboard layout", click "advanced", find the right field, finally get to enter what you want is any of more intuitive, more user-friendly, or faster than providing a keyboard command to do the same thing.

And if it's an activity you do on a recurring basis and you have a decent memory for such things, I'm pretty convinced it's worse. Or rather, I'm wholly convinced it's a lot worse for me, and fairly convinced a lot of other people might find the same thing if we could get beyond accepting a priori "GUIs are user-friendly and intuitive and for real people and creative people"/"Command lines and keyboard shortcuts are for neckbeards who just don't know any better."
posted by Zed at 10:15 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think point-and-click interfaces can sometimes be easier to manage for exploration. The Commando interface of the old Macintosh Programmer's Workshop provided dialog boxes to set options for command-line tools, but would also print the command-line equivalent of setting these options. This was a pretty neat approach to making the options of command-line utilities easy to explore, while still making it easy to graduate to a more efficient command line. I'm sorry it never caught on more.
posted by grouse at 10:24 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think point-and-click interfaces can sometimes be easier to manage for exploration.

I used to say that it was *always* easier for exploration, but then I started actually using the apropos help in Emacs (C-h a).
posted by DU at 10:50 AM on July 21, 2011


Zed: I'm skeptical of any claims that something like click "Edit", click "preferences", click "system", click "Language" (the 4th tab), click "Keyboard layout", click "advanced", find the right field, finally get to enter what you want is any of more intuitive, more user-friendly, or faster than providing a keyboard command to do the same thing.

Well, it's a good thing those claims are rarely made then. In that area, the tradeoffs between GUI and command lines. Modern GUIs force you to choose among hundreds of options, modern commnand-line interface force you to construct proper syntax out of hundreds of potential synonyms.

Of course the specific area raised wasn't about command discovery but about a fairly well-defined and studied task: positioning a cursor within a section of text. And on that, there's little to no evidence that emacs-style or vi-style movement commands are faster or more accurate than mouse selection.

And if it's an activity you do on a recurring basis and you have a decent memory for such things, I'm pretty convinced it's worse.

What rigorous and empirical evidence do you have to support these convictions? That's the bottom line because while you, DU, and I all prefer CLIs and keyboard navigation for many tasks, there's precious little evidence that it's generally. The inflated claims of CLIs and keyboard shortcuts are a form of nerd religion we should be skeptical about.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:01 AM on July 21, 2011


If you read all the words, my inflated claim is "I'm wholly convinced it's a lot worse for me, and fairly convinced a lot of other people might find the same thing". "a lot" and "might" are vague and were intentionally chosen to be so to reflect my level of conviction. If I had rigorous, empirical evidence, I'd have made a different statement.
posted by Zed at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2011


So, after some surprisingly frustrating Googling, it appears that in order to get the terminal's caret to respond to your mouse, you need support in your command-line shell program, and not just in the terminal emulator that accesses it. bash doesn't seem to be capable of this, but zsh is.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:48 AM on July 21, 2011


What a wonderful tool. I've used Unix for well over a decade and I'm amazed at how even the most refined things, like a terminal application, can continue to be revamped well. I'll be using this.
posted by dgran at 12:03 PM on July 21, 2011


scruss: Hmm. All I get is the cursor turning to a crosshair when I hold down option and beepage weirdness when I actually click. I'm trying to move the cursor to edit a bash command line - are you doing something different?
Nope. I get the crosshair, click where I want, and the cursor moves there. Not sure what you mean by "beepage weirdness"?

LogicalDash: So, after some surprisingly frustrating Googling, it appears that in order to get the terminal's caret to respond to your mouse, you need support in your command-line shell program, and not just in the terminal emulator that accesses it. bash doesn't seem to be capable of this, but zsh is.
Huh, odd. I've made no changes to anything to get this to work, and have been using it on this local machine (OSX), a standard Ubuntu 10.04 box (bash shell), and a hosted Linux something iunno (also bash). It works both on the command-line, and within vi (which is, frankly, a fucking godsend for a coder as shitty as me).
posted by coriolisdave at 2:25 PM on July 21, 2011


coriolisdave, have you actually typed anything after moving the cursor? In EMACS' terminal mode, for example, the mouse will move the EMACS cursor, but the shell process won't get the memo, and if you try typing anything, it goes where your cursor was before you clicked.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:06 PM on July 21, 2011


Yup, lots of typing ;)
Also, vi 4eva
posted by coriolisdave at 7:35 PM on July 21, 2011


Why IT won't like Mac OS X Lion Server
posted by jeffburdges at 11:35 AM on July 25, 2011


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