Subject: Re: screen users vs. the real world (was: ncurses and terminfo are broken on Solaris/SunOS)
To: James K. Lowden <>
From: Greg A. Woods <>
List: tech-pkg
Date: 04/05/2003 13:29:21
[[ note the reply-to -- i.e. let's take this off list, or at least over
to a more general list, if there's anything else to say ]]

[ On Saturday, April 5, 2003 at 00:32:13 (-0500), James K. Lowden wrote: ]
> Subject: Re: ncurses and terminfo are broken on Solaris/SunOS (Re: pkg/20881)
> On Fri, 4 Apr 2003 13:14:17 -0500 (EST), "Greg A. Woods" <>
> wrote:
> > 
> > People really should learn to re-instantiate their sessions as necessary
> > and not depend on something like "screen" to hold them in stasis.
> Oh, pooh.  In the world outside the CRT, Newton's laws apply: a body at
> rest tends to remain at rest unless an external force acts upon it.  I get
> a book off the shelf, put it down to answer the phone, and it stays there
> until I get back to it.  Sometimes that takes weeks.  I know this from
> experience with dirty socks.  
> Software should be no different.  Everytime I restart anything,
> reinstantiate anything, resume anything, that I didn't stop and/or shut
> down voluntarily, I'm coping with extra chaos introduced on the far side
> of the keyboard.  That humans can adapt to such a poor emulation of
> reality is a testament to their capabilities, but that in no way lessens
> the central failure of the world within the computer to emulate the one
> without.  

Not only do I not agree very much with your view of the real world,
there's also a critical difference with the software world which causes
your analogy to go poof into a puff of invisible smoke.

Your socks don't rip pages out of your phone book and turn them into
mounds of featureless pulp if you don't put them into the laundry basket
and put the phone book back up on the shelf.

However if you don't treat your login sessions as (extremely) volatile
then you're liable to lose data or even cause more dangerous failures.

The problem isn't necessarily with the chaos a poorly organized user
might suffer every time they purposefully logout and login again, but
rather the more dangerous problems that happen when they've left a dozen
sessions open for weeks and then suddenly something inbetween their
keyboard and thir processes fails catastrophically in such a way that
their sessions are trased unexpectedly.

Note that a well organized person will not only put his books on the
shelf, his socks in the laundry basket, but will also arrange things so
that his login sessions and applications can all be restarted with one
action, and so will not mind logging off every system for the night!  ;-)

As you can see though I'm not always that very well organized....

$ w
 1:24PM  up 54 days,  2:43, 2 users, load averages: 0.28, 0.22, 0.17
woods p1 10Feb03     0 w 
woods p2 10Feb03  37days ksh 

(and I won't dare show how many xterms I'm displaying here but running
on a half dozen other local servers...  :-)

								Greg A. Woods

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