Restoring sc console look and feel with vt

Polytropon freebsd at
Sat Sep 9 14:58:56 UTC 2017

On Sun, 10 Sep 2017 00:26:23 +1000 (EST), Ian Smith wrote:
> Poly, as someone else with 'senior' eyesight and a long memory, I feel 
> your pain.  I've been working in (lots of) 120 x 50 konsoles in old KDE 
> on 14" LCD for years, but that's only easy on good days now, and I keep 
> a magnifying glass handy - but that uses up one hand :)

The idea of 80x25 on a big screen is that you have readable text
and a usable amount of information (!) on the screen especially
in emergency situations where you really have no magical undo button,
so you need to pay close attention on what you're doing. My personal
experience is that 80x25 is a good mode for system recovery and
early stage repairs, as well as for testing and fiddling with
custom settings.

In the past (and still possible on my home system), switching
between X and console is easy and works all the time. Of couse
you can do all this inside X (and even much easier than with vt),
but that requires X to work. In single-user mode, there is no X,
there is only one shell session. And if this shell session only
presents letters a few millimeters high even on a huge 21" CRT,
it raises the stress level of the operator who tries to rescue

As I'm getting older and the world gets more modernerer than I
can adjust to with buying new hardware every year, it seems that
I have to accept that modern X and classic text mode do not work
together anymore. I really appreciate the work that went into vt,
especially the ability to use UTF-8 in "console mode" (which now
is more a kind of special graphics mode), even though this is not
something I urgently need. However, the inability of vt to replace
sc's _basic_ functionality makes it hard for me to like it.

I'd switch back to sc any day, but that causes one of the two
following problems:

a) after leaving X, the console is blank, or

b) X doesn't even start.

A decades old tradition broke.

Of course, this all doesn't apply to systems with only remote
access, or those that will only use X. Except myself, there will
probably only be a handful of yesterdayian refuseniks who are
still trying to work in text mode.

And I'm not even trying to imagine if blind (!) users who have
attached a Braille readout (usually the mechanical 80x1 or 80x2
"feel the characters" kind) to their system will be able to use
text mode that isn't sc...

> I wonder if a big LCD screen might fare better than a big CRT with this?

Oh, that'll be where new problems are going to appear! It probably
won't work in text mode anymore, will cause problems in X, won't
be able to switch resolutions (my CRT can go from 320x200 up to 1400x1050
with Ctrl+Alt+[+] and Ctrl+Alt+[-] and by software - very convenient
for lower fullscreen modes), and probably won't connect to my old
hardware (no HDMI et al.). And I hesitate to replace something that
perfectly works... ;-)

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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