curse you, ncurses

Jude DaShiell jdashiel at
Mon Sep 29 19:22:55 UTC 2014

The editor ex is the more powerful version of vim and vi.  If you can 
get on a bsd system that has the learn utility available, you can use 
that to thoroughly learn ex.  The ex editor is way more powerful than 
ed. hasn't got the learn utility set up and working so 
far as I know.  I'll check both and for learn 
though since I could use to cycle through the ex lessons again.  Some of 
the more advanced features likely will be more understandable and more 
useful now.  The learn utility is a computer-assisted-instruction 
environment.  I think it's even possible to "export TERM=ansi" and get 
useable output so if a braille display likes ansi more than ncurses you 
may have some possibilities there.

On Wed, 24 Sep 2014, Tim Chase wrote:

> On September 24, 2014, Brian Tew wrote:
> > can linux work without ncurses? any distro?
> Yes, *linux* will work just fine without ncurses.  The applications
> that you run within it may have trouble.  Many console tools
> expect to be able to move arbitrarily around and paint on a 2D
> like editors (vim, emacs, joe, nano, etc), email
> programs (mutt, pine, alpine), browsers (lynx, links, elinks, w3m),
> file-managers like Midnight Commander (mc), music players like
> "cmus", and communication tools like "irssi" for IRC.
> That said, you *can* get by far better with just dumb-terminal
> braille in Linux than in Windows (especially out of the box), since
> Linux (and the BSDs) come with a wide variety of tools at your
> disposal and often support a serial terminal with little fuss.
> Many times you can just issue "export TERM=dumb" and those programs
> that can adapt will do so.  One of the nice things is that a pure
> terminal environment (no X) is *incredibly* light on resources, so
> you can get just about any old cast-off machine (or a Raspberry Pi)
> and load it up with Linux.  For non-curses applications I've listed a
> bunch below. Best wishes!
> -tim
> First, I recommend learning & using "tmux" or GNU "screen" to
> multiplex your terminals.  This makes it easy to switch between
> programs as well as disconnect and reconnect from another machine
> right back where you were.  
> For text-editing, you have "ed" and "edbrowse" which are remarkably
> powerful for line-based editors.  
> For web-browsing, I understand that "edbrowse" is able to help you
> here.  I've not used it, so I can't speak to it, but it's where I'd
> start first.
> For email, you have the classic "mail" as well as "mh"/"nmh".  You
> would configure a MTA such as "fetchmail" to go out and grab your mail
> from a remote server, and sendmail/exim/qmail for sending outbound
> mail.
> For calculators, you have "bc" (just a calculator), "dc" (a
> reverse-Polish-notation calculator), as well as just about any REPL
> interpreter such as Python which is my go-to command-line calculator.
> For calendars, you have "cal" for displaying a given calendar,
> "calendar" & "remind" which allow you to track appointments.  I've
> tried "remind" and it's crazy powerful.  There's also "gcalcli" which
> integrates with Google Calendar.
> For task management, there's "devtodo" and Task Warrior ("task")
> which have both meet my needs when I needed to track to-do items.
> For audio editing, "sox" is the go-to.
> For audio playback and recording, "mpg123", "mpg321", and "ogg123"
> play back a particular format which I use for a simple "play this one
> file" usage, but if you want to have play-lists and jump around in
> them, something like "mpd" ("music player daemon") allows you to run a
> it in the background and then issue commands to it.
> For podcatching, I use "hpodder" and run it as a cron job.
> For mixing your audio, there's "amixer" to control volumes,
> channel-muting, and input muting/gain.
> For chat, I know that "tinyirc" has a dumb terminal interface that
> works fairly well for IRC (I've not used it in multiple channels, but
> when I need to pop on a channel, ask a question, and then drop off, it
> works quite nicely).  I don't know how well "finch" would work with a
> dumb terminal.
> If you receive Microsoft Word files, you can use "wv" or "antiword"
> to extract the text for viewing; and for PDFs with actual text
> (rather than images of text, for which you'd need some OCR software;
> others here can guide you on that) you can use "pdf2txt" or
> "pdftotext" to extract them.
> To create documents, markup languages like Docbook, LaTeX, HTML, or
> Markdown work just fine.  They can be stored in version-control,
> edited with your editor of choice, and transformed into your desired
> output format (such as HTML, PDF, .epub, .mobi, etc).
> For batch downloading files, I use either "wget" or "curl".
> I'd also recommend getting to know a version-control tool like "git"
> or "mercurial" ("hg") or "bazaar" ("bzr").  Or Subversion ("svn") if
> you must, but the others are far less trouble I've found.  All work
> just fine with a dumb terminal.
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jude <jdashiel at>

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