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vt220 - define SHIFTED function keys on VT220 terminal
vt220 [ -cil ] [ keyname keystring ] ...
Vt220 sets up a "vt220 terminal" in vt200 mode to allow
user definition of the SHIFTED function keys. Each keyname
specified on the command line will be loaded with the cor-
responding keystring. A keyname is one of the following
"words": F6 F7 F8 F9 F10 F11 ESC F12 BS F13 LF F14 HELP DO
F17 F18 F19 F20. Keystrings must be quoted if spaces,
tabs, or shell metacharacters are included.
Vt220 expects to receive some combination of option flags
and/or argument pair(s), otherwise an usage message is
The options are:
-c Clears all SHIFTED function key definitions before
setting them to user defined strings.
-i Read the initialization file $HOME/.vt220rc for
SHIFTED function key definitions. This is done
before any argument pair specified on the command
line is processed. Each line in the file must con-
sist of two fields (separated by spaces or tabs)
where the first field is the keyname and the second
field is the keystring. The second field extends
to the end of the line; thus a keystring may
include spaces or tabs. A newline (return) may be
specified within the string by using the C Language
notation for newline (\n).
-l Locks the function keys from further definition.
Locking occurs after processing the initialization
file (if the "i" option is specified) and any argu-
ment pairs. The only way to unlock is by turning
the power off.
vt220 F6 'nroff -ms '
vt220 -i F20 'cc -O -c '
vt220 -l HELP man
Pressing the function keys without using the shift key,
generates a string of characters. With csh(1) this string
can be aliased to some command. For example:
alias ^[[17~ "ls -CR | more"
where ^[[17~ is what is generated by pressing the F6 key.
Therefore F6 can perform two commands, depending if
pressed with/without the SHIFT key.
Vt220 can be called from your .login or .profile file.
Typically an user will create a initialization file and
include a line like
in the above mentioned files. This way the SHIFTED func-
tion keys will be set to your favorite commands when log-
If the SHIFTED function keys are unlocked, redefinition of
a SHIFTED function key will rewrite the old string.
There are 256 bytes available for the SHIFTED function
keys. Space is supplied on a first-come/first-serve
basis. After the 256 bytes are used, you can't define any
more keys unless space is cleared. This can be done by
redefining a key to contain a string of fewer bytes.
All key definitions are stored in volatile RAM, and are
lost when terminal power is lost.
The ESC key (unshifted) no longer generates the proper
escape character. This is of particular importance since
many editors require use of the ESC key. Here are some
The escape character can be generated by typing ^[
Use vt220 as follows (note ^[ is control-[)
vt220 ESC '^['
This will require you to press the SHIFT key and ESC
to generate the escape sequence.
Some editors, allow other character(s) to be substi-
tuted for the escape character. For example with
emacs include this line in your .emacs_pro:
(bind-to-key "ESC-prefix" "\033[23~")
Thus when the ESC key is pressed, emacs will allow
the characters generated (^[[23~) to perform the same
function as the escape character.
$HOME/.vt220rc - initialization file
VT220 Programmer Reference Manual
VT220 Programmer Pocket Guide
Source: OpenBSD 2.6 man pages. Copyright: Portions are copyrighted by BERKELEY
SOFTWARE DESIGN, INC., The Regents of the University of California, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Free Software Foundation, FreeBSD Inc., and others.
(Corrections, notes, and links courtesy of RocketAware.com)
Up to: Terminal I/O - low-level character based display (TTY) and keyboard routines.
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