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Re: X Windows

Hi Pete,

> Does anyone think X windows is something I should have for my linux
> system?  All I do is program.  Would it help me in any way?

This depends on your personal taste and on your hardware.

For me, my 486-33 with a non-accelerated ISA video board did not have
enough performance to justify X for anything that I could also do from
the console.  I found it very distracting the way that an xterm lagged
when I scrolled text full speed in less.  It is wonderful that with
linux you have the option of using multiple VCs with scroll back and
gpm, giving you many, but not all of the advantages you gain with X.

I now primarily run a P-150 laptop (so X performance is no longer an
issue) with a 12.1 1024x768 screen, and with the "fixed" font (6x13) I
can get two 80x56 xterms side-by-side without overlap.  This
no-overlap criteria was what had me hold out until 1024x768 became
available.  (Everyone who looks at my laptop remarks on how small the
font is, but I don't know if it is the sharpness and high contrast of
the LCD display or what, but I find it easier to read than same font
on much larger CRTs.)

With X, you will be able to set up your xterms with several thousand
line scroll-back buffers, and you won't lose the scroll-back data in
one xterm when you look at another, like with the VCs.

In addition to having multiple xterms (or emacs windows) visible at
once, you will still be able to shift between desktops (or between
pages on a desktop if that is what you like) with the same ALT-arrow
ease that you use to shift between VCs.  Personally, I run fvwm2 (as
my window manager) and set myself up with one page per desktop, but
with a two dimensional layout of desktops (achieved by making
ALT-up/down change the desktop number by 1000).  I hardly ever have
windows overlapping each other, but instead have a couple of dozen
windows distributes across a dozen or so desktops.  I will sometimes
make an emacs window sticky (so that it stays in place as I change
desktops) and arrange several xterms in neighboring desktops so that I
can switch between them as I cut and paste code from several other .h
or .c files or manpages to the emacs window which remains visible
throughout the process.

Here are a some of mouse related survival tips for X:

  X expects a three button mouse, and you can emulate the third button
  on a two button mouse by pressing both buttons simultaneously, but
  in X, button 2 (traditionally the middle one) is used for more
  important functions than button 3 -- such as for pasting text.  So
  you might want to swap buttons 2 and 3 by putting this in your

    xmodmap -e "pointer = 1 3 2"

  When emacs is run in its own window, text is pasted at the mouse
  location, not at point.  This is likely to drive you batty if you
  have used gpm a lot, so you can override this by putting this line
  in your .emacs:

    (setq mouse-yank-at-point t)

  You can still move point to the mouse location before pasting (if
  that is what you want) by pressing mouse-1.

  Also, use alternate selection in emacs to avoid moving point when
  selecting text.  Do this by holding down Meta (alt) while using the
  mouse.  Because of an evil thing done in the system.fvwm2rc which
  causes fvwm2 to intercept Meta-mouse events (see Bug #17668), you
  may need to put this line in your ~/.fvwm2/post.hook:

    Mouse 0 W M -

  If you have a ps2 mouse, run gpm with the -R repeater switch, and
  tell X to use

     Protocol    "MouseSystems"
     Device      "/dev/gpmdata"

  in the "Pointer" section of your XF86Config so that you will still
  be able to use gpm when you visit the console for old time's sake.


Kirk (a programmer who was quite happy with his VCs, but who loves the
added power of X)

P.S.  Did I mention that you will be able to run ediff-merge with the
      two source files side by side.  It makes comparisons much easier.

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