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Re: default bg color on ttys

From: Robert J. Chassell
Subject: Re: default bg color on ttys
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000 08:01:39 -0500 (EST)

   On Tue, 31 Oct 2000, Robert J. Chassell wrote:

   >    Would the following be an okay solution?
   >       (set-background-mode 'dark)
   > Yes!  I think that would do it (along with the command line options
   > mentioned by others).

   I was trying to avoid adding command-line options.

   Why do you think it's required, assuming the above function is added
   and can be invoked either interactively or from .emacs?

It is easier to explain to a novice how to start a working Emacs on
their (most likely misconfigured) system by giving them a command line
option than by teaching them about .emacs files or teaching them how
to use Emacs interactively while the display is in a bad state.

Also, it is a matter of first impressions:  what comes across as
easier for a novice, potential Microsoft Windows migrant to use?  A
program that comes up looking terrible and hard to use, but a guru can
fix it quickly, or a program that comes up looking great, with
instructions that a novice can read, follow, and learn from without
needing the guru?

Of course, the second case does require the guru to tell the novice to
`try to start Emacs by writing "emacs -bg dark" on a terminal command

But that is easier than saying, `start Emacs, then, even though you
cannot read the screen, type "meta-x set-background-dark"; I mean,
press your escape key then the x key, then type "set" followed by a
hyphen, "background" -- no spaces --followed by a hyphen and the word,
"dark", and then press the RETURN key.  By RETURN key, I mean the key
that on your keyboard is labled `enter'."

In two different countries, I used instances of Emacs version 20
running under X in which the background text area of the frame was in
one color, the background non-text area was in a second color, and the
foreground text color was almost similar to the the background of the
text area.  This was almost impossible for me to read and I could not
work with Emacs in that configuration.  I could and did fix those
instances, but had little time, so I rushed it.  

Unfortunate as it is, most new people to free software are now coming
out of the Microsoft Windows world, where they expect an integrated
environment such as Emacs to be as easy to start and use as Notepad;
and they will not cross the threshhold to using Emacs unless the
beginning is easy.  It is not like the days when people came from
using an integrated environment that consisted of a Unix shell with
various filters such as grep, gcc, and vi.

Ideally, of course, a starting Emacs looks at the existing
configuration (or misconfiguration) and adapts to that, so a novice
starts Emacs by clicking on a button with his or her mouse.

(And that the properly configured Emacs has auto-fill turned on for
writing text or email, and other obvious features, rather than leaving
new learners with the impression that no one, over the last 25 years,
ever invented a readable word wrap for use with Emacs.)

    Robert J. Chassell                  address@hidden
    Rattlesnake Enterprises             http://www.rattlesnake.com

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