Open Source FTW! And keeping it old skool!
February 22, 2015 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Retro Terminal for Linux Old school terminals for people with enough sense to love CLIs, but not enough to use sane modern terminals. (And one other cool proggie.)

I am chilling out on Telegram one day and a buddy of mine shows me a screenie of Cathode, this really sweet retro Mac terminal. So I decided I want the same cool prettiness, even if it is not all that functional. I look around for a while and find Cool Retro Term for Linux. And if you don't want to clone from his Git and compile from source, there's PPA instructions here.

To the current best of my knowledge, there's no such thing for the Windows crowd.

Who says skeuomorphism is all bad?
posted by Samizdata (64 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Because, you know, I suck at coding.
posted by Samizdata at 1:52 PM on February 22, 2015


AAAGH! MY EYEBALLS! THEY BURN!

(Yes, I remember working 40 hours a week on a Wyse-70 with a 9600 baud serial connection. It sucked. There is a reason why, as of yesterday, I have taken to working on a 5K pixel Retina iMac and I do not want to be dragged kicking and screaming back to the raster-burn era ...)
posted by cstross at 1:53 PM on February 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


"open source"? I am not familiar with this newfangled 21st-century term. Are you talking about free software? Is that what you're talking about?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:59 PM on February 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Free software you can, nay, are encouraged to poke with a stick!
posted by Samizdata at 2:00 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


AAAGH! MY EYEBALLS! THEY BURN!

(Yes, I remember working 40 hours a week on a Wyse-70 with a 9600 baud serial connection. It sucked. There is a reason why, as of yesterday, I have taken to working on a 5K pixel Retina iMac and I do not want to be dragged kicking and screaming back to the raster-burn era ...)


Angleton wouldn't bitch.

Sorry, but it HAD to be said.

(Except maybe about this Van Eck chappie he's heard about...)
posted by Samizdata at 2:02 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Let us not forget the awful old keyboards that were enormously thick and squishy.
posted by wotsac at 2:09 PM on February 22, 2015


In my day all this was echoplexed 300bps if you were lucky, 110bps teletypes for the masses. METAFILTER used to update monthly, by post, in Letraset.

Comments were TELEX'ed in the most part. Only the very few were able to directly input them to a single text file using ED. There was no file locking and echoplexing made for some wbeieard msangliked text at times.

Still, it only cost a nickel to subscribe in those days.
posted by fallingbadgers at 2:10 PM on February 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


Same as in town.
posted by parki at 2:14 PM on February 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Installed under Linux Mint 17.1. Awesome!!

But... now I feel like I have to play Hunt the Wumpus.
posted by mondo dentro at 2:17 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I of course use the cutting edge 3D interface from Jurassic Park.
posted by Artw at 2:18 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remember playing Hunt the Wumpus.

ON a TTY.
posted by Samizdata at 2:19 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I learned to code on a paper TTY. None of those fancy glowing screens you kids have today; we had ink on paper and we liked it.
posted by octothorpe at 2:21 PM on February 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


astev@gladstone $ gopher://gopher.univ-paris3.fr:70/
posted by fraula at 2:35 PM on February 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


fraula: "astev@gladstone $ gopher://gopher.univ-paris3.fr:70/"

Wipes his eyes from nostalgia.
posted by Samizdata at 2:36 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I love the fact that my IBM Model M keyboard is the same vintage as these and is undeniably *still* the best tool for the job.

Clickety click, barba trick!
posted by Poldo at 2:54 PM on February 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Of course, you could use xscreensaver's analog TV simulator as a terminal emulator over a decade ago...

(that simulator actually models portions of the analog circuitry of an NTSC television set... the source code is a bit interesting if you're wired that way.)
posted by effbot at 2:57 PM on February 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


Oh god, I'd almost forgotten about the Amber Era.
posted by mubba at 3:03 PM on February 22, 2015


Wow effbot that source file is some hardcore shit.
posted by localroger at 3:18 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I did a project not too long ago involving old hardware that required me to use a terminal. The Hazeltine 1500 I managed to track down was okay once you got it adjusted, but before that I was using something whose name i've blotted out, probably because instead of a Caps Lock key it actually had a Shift Lock key. You really did need to type in upper case often back then (unlike now, hint, hint) and having shift lock was the most enraging thing; you had to remember turn it off when typing any non-letter character.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:19 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wut, no ASR-33?
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:25 PM on February 22, 2015


Nice post.

my IBM Model M keyboard is the same vintage as these and is undeniably *still* the best tool for the job.

And like a Technics 1200, you can throw them off a fire escape and somehow they'll still work.
posted by four panels at 3:27 PM on February 22, 2015


And like a Technics 1200, you can throw them off a fire escape and somehow they'll still work.

Hell, you could probably throw those things on the fire, and it would not only put it out but it would still work afterwards.
posted by surazal at 3:42 PM on February 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


that simulator actually models portions of the analog circuitry of an NTSC television set...

Has anybody made PAL or SECAM versions?
posted by acb at 3:44 PM on February 22, 2015


Has anybody made PAL or SECAM versions?

Or a windows version [some of us like more than one kind of masochism]?

(I kid, I kid...a little)
posted by thegears at 3:47 PM on February 22, 2015


> Wow effbot that source file is some hardcore shit.

True dat. It's glorious.

Normal person: Screensaver? Just let it go into powersave or whatever the OS default is.

Geek: It would be cool to have a screensaver that looks like an old tube TV.

Geek after my own heart: I'll write one! Maybe, like, a desharp mask with some overlaid scan lines or something.

Better geek than I'll ever be: I'll turn the image into an NTSC signal, then build an actual analog TV in software to demodulate and display it. And I'll do big chunks of it twice: once the way you probably think, then again for pseudocolor displays with limited color maps.

The author is actually breaking that shit down into Y, I and Q signals -- in real time -- then turning it back to RGB.

Mad respect.
posted by sourcequench at 3:56 PM on February 22, 2015 [19 favorites]


They mention IBM 3287 mode. As this is just a printer, I wonder how you type.
Also- not old school enough.
posted by MtDewd at 4:04 PM on February 22, 2015


Wipes his eyes from nostalgia.

   PINE 3.91   MAIN MENU                            Folder: INBOX  2 Messages


       ?     HELP               -  Get help using Pine

       C     COMPOSE MESSAGE    -  Compose and send/post a message

       I     MESSAGE INDEX      -  View messages in current folder

       L     FOLDER LIST        -  Select a folder OR news group to view

       A     ADDRESS BOOK       -  Update address book

       S     SETUP              -  Configure or update Pine

       Q     QUIT               -  Exit the Pine program


   Copyright 1989-1995.  PINE is a trademark of the University of Washington.
                    [Folder "INBOX" opened with 13 messages]
? Help                     P PrevCmd                  R RelNotes
O OTHER CMDS > [ListFldrs] N NextCmd                  K KBLock
posted by four panels at 4:14 PM on February 22, 2015 [21 favorites]


Pretty sure they meant the 3278, MtDewd. This kinda brings the emulation full-circle. So many of the early IBM PCs I sold were fitted with BlueLynx adaptors just to replace 3278s. Buying PCs rather than terminals earned companies better credits for their volume purchasing deals from Big Blue.
posted by punilux at 4:18 PM on February 22, 2015


I just viewed this post in Lynx via Cygwin for nostalgia's sake.
posted by travertina at 4:25 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


PINE 3.91 MAIN MENU

Jesus, I started drooling. Paging Ivan Pavlov...
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:26 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


PINE Is Not Elm
posted by a lungful of dragon at 4:26 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are actual standards for TV signals:

Thank you effbot.
posted by mikelieman at 4:35 PM on February 22, 2015


I spend the vast majority of my time at work switching between the terminal and MacVim. As much as I love the idea of this, it's hard enough to see what the hell I'm doing with progressive bifocals. I wouldn't dare do anything to make my screen harder to read. The younger people at work already think it's funny that I have my fonts set to 14 points on a 27" monitor instead of 7 points or whatever they use.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:51 PM on February 22, 2015


Here's my funny terminal story. Around 1980, my brother was in college studying electrical engineering. He wanted a dumb terminal, so ordered one from Heathkit so that he could build it himself during summer break. He ordered it by mail and waited impatiently for it to arrive. One day, the UPS truck finally came with the boxes of unassembled dumb terminal. As the UPS guy carried the boxes to the door, he dropped the one with the CRT, which landed hard on one corner. There was a tinkle of broken glass followed by an unforgettable whooshy-suck noise. My brother was so pissed. I think he had to wait at least another week for the replacement.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:55 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Heh. All your geek are belong to us!
posted by Samizdata at 5:05 PM on February 22, 2015


four panels: "Wipes his eyes from nostalgia.
   PINE 3.91   MAIN MENU       
"

I looked at that, and actually thought I *smelled* the old Center for Engineering Computing lab. Yikes.
posted by notsnot at 5:16 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's my funny terminal story.

1985 - Warming sake on the back of an ADM-3A at like 3am on a weekend while my knuckleheaded friends were elevator surfing.
posted by mikelieman at 5:38 PM on February 22, 2015


Meanwhile, in my insanely dumb parallel universe, I wrote a ncurses-based VT100 emulator (hardware, not terminal, emulator) so I could hack a screensaver into the VT100 ROMs.

The sad, sick coda is that I blew up the VT100 by yanking the main board while the terminal was still on. How could I possibly have been dumb enough to pull the board out of a running machine? Well, you see, I thought it was off... because the screensaver had kicked in. *headdesk*
posted by phooky at 5:46 PM on February 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


Try reading usenet with a 30 year time delay, in xscreensaver's CRT emulator. I do it over dialup for extra verisimilitude.

Well actually because I do everything over dialup.
posted by joeyh at 6:04 PM on February 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Luxury! You kids today with your VT-thingy-a-ma-bobs and your curses and your green screens.

Those aren't retro terminals. THIS is a retro terminal! 30 characters a second on a good day. Thermal paper you'd best not leave sitting in a hot car. And you want dial in? Ya better dial the damn number yourself. None of this ATDT crap! And all for the low, low price of $2,595.

Now, get offa my PDP-11, youngsters! And get a haircut while you're at it!
posted by Frayed Knot at 6:28 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know, I actually like the 5250 terminals one of my clients has. I also enjoy working with the OS/400/i5/OS box they are connected to. That probably has more to do with the keyboard than anything else. The 3270s they had previously were decent enough, but way too bulky, plus green only. 5250 has color, even though the old RPGIII programs they are still running in System/36 mode on their i5 don't. I'm still not sure why they upgraded from the iSeries they had before this one. The only reason they left the S/36 behind was TCP/IP and the only thing it is used for is the aforementioned legacy software running in S/36 mode.

Call me crazy, but I love that such things exist and are still in use. PCs (and their OSes) are so much less interesting.
posted by wierdo at 6:45 PM on February 22, 2015


Those aren't retro terminals. THIS is a retro terminal!

My first interaction with a computer was playing adventure via one of those Silent 700s with the acoustic coupler. We'd keep our game sessions in rubber-banded scrolls so we could draw maps later. *carried off by wave of violent nostalgia*
posted by phooky at 7:15 PM on February 22, 2015


>The sad, sick coda is that I blew up the VT100 by yanking the main board while the terminal was still on. How could I possibly have been dumb enough to pull the board out of a running machine?

Let's check the calendar, yeah, I guess the statute of limitations has run out on this but...

I pulled out a memory board from a running AS/400. Because I was dumb enough. Of course, maybe securing them might have been a good idea, but you now... Anyway... It fucking halted immediately, and threw an error code. After shoving the thing back in, I hit the BRS and it did it's thing and resurrected itself.

Man, those were some incredible machines.
posted by mikelieman at 7:17 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hunt the Wumpus and Star Trek for me, Phooky.

In the early 70s I was a pre-teen and my mom worked for in the support organization for Amdahl (I think?). She'd have to bring a Silent 700 home whenever she was on call, and would let me spend a few precious hours playing on it most weekends.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:22 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pretty sure they meant the 3278

It would have to be the 3277, which had an ASCII option. The 3278 was EBCDIC. Usually they just call it 3270 emulation and gloss over that point.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:46 PM on February 22, 2015


Has any technology ever advanced as rapidly as computing? I've been involved my whole life and I still have regular "oh wow that is small/fast/big/cheap" moments.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:46 PM on February 22, 2015


I just retired a bunch of WYSE-60 terminals and Genicom dot-matrix printers. MeMail me if you want one.
posted by slogger at 8:12 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Came to gripe about no good windows terminal emulator, but that commentary is right in the post.
posted by sammyo at 8:44 PM on February 22, 2015


Has any technology ever advanced as rapidly as computing?

Rocketry, maybe? We went from the the very first liquid-fueled rocket in 1926, to the V-2 in 1944, to the Saturn V in 1966.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:26 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Has any technology ever advanced as rapidly as computing?

There are probably a few technologies, but it depends on how you segment it. Airplanes went from Kitty Hawk to global military force in under 40 years. Human space flight started in 1961 with one orbit, to landing on the moon in 1969. But you might consider space flight as just an extension of airplane technology.

I heard the TiVo was the most rapidly adopted consumer product in history, and of course it is totally based on computers (runs Linux IIRC). But it was easily surpassed by the iPhone.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:28 PM on February 22, 2015


Sammyo: MobaXterm isn't terrible.

As for this now I need to build a RobCo Terminal to stick a flatscreen and one of those 122 key IBM PoS keyboards into.
posted by mcrandello at 10:35 PM on February 22, 2015


I wonder how hard it would be to take the analog TV simulator and make a scrambled cable tv porn simulator. That'd pretty much complete the 90s for me.
posted by jewzilla at 10:38 PM on February 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


And you want dial in? Ya better dial the damn number yourself. None of this ATDT crap!

I got sick of doing that, so I built a gadget with two transistors and two little relays and hooked it up to the annunciator outputs on my Apple ][+. Turns out that my local Telecom Australia exchange circa 1979 could accept numbers pulse-dialled at twice the standard 10pps rate.
posted by flabdablet at 1:16 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Speaking of nerdgasm, Linus just announced Linux kernel 4!

For reference, SkyNet will run on Linux 4.1.15 so not much longer now till the cleansing fire engulfs us all.
posted by Poldo at 5:17 AM on February 23, 2015


Wow, this is weirdly soothing to work on. I don't know how long the novelty is going to last, but this is today's primary terminal.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:22 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Okay I'm starting to get a headache, I think this is where the novelty wears off.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:27 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The novelty can never wear off for me... but I have been computing for 32 of my 36 years...

There is one very lacking attribute...

The text position cursor... needs to have a blink option.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 10:23 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ohhh. Emm. Gee.

I am staring a Linux kernel 3.16 source in amber...

nirvana...
posted by PROD_TPSL at 10:27 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thank you for this - Once I moved from insta-headache to something more subtle, this has made my day - Applying puppet manifests at 28.8bps makes really soothing sounds.
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:25 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


telnet rainmaker.wunderground.com has further made my day

rogue has completely ruined it in a great way
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:29 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I opened a file in vim and called my boss over to ask him if he could figure out what was wrong with my code. He was pretty tickled.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:20 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you want that retro look but don't want to give up your xterm program/OS/etc., you could always install the GlassTTY VT220 Font into most computing environments. (self-link, SR is an old friend.)
posted by scalefree at 3:06 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you want that retro look but don't want to give up your xterm program/OS/etc., you could always install the GlassTTY VT220 Font into most computing environments. (self-link, SR is an old friend.)

Installed on my netbook. CRT seems a little...large...for such a small screen.
posted by Samizdata at 1:59 AM on February 24, 2015


I just installed me some phosphor.
posted by Zed at 12:21 PM on February 24, 2015


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