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RE: Key bindings proposal

From: Uday S Reddy
Subject: RE: Key bindings proposal
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2010 10:23:55 +0100

Drew Adams writes:

> The PC keyboards I've seen do not have a Hyper key or a Super key
> either - no such key labels.  Maybe some PC keyboards do, but the
> average "everyday" one does not.
> If you want to call the ALT key "Hyper" and the Window key "Super",
> feel free.  In Emacs, by default we call the ALT key "Meta" (or
> rather we map the physical key ALT to the logical key Meta).

I am not talking about the physical labels.  I am talking about the
low-level key codes that get sent in to the OS.  I don't know enough
about low-level key codes.  What I said is based on what I have seen
written here and there.  Perhaps that is Linux-specific.  I can't say.

> ALT is a very old key.  Its use by Emacs as Meta is nearly as old.
> Use of ALT by the OS (or window mgr) to do the kinds of things it
> does for KDE, Gnome, and Windows is much more recent.
> In the old days, before the Almighty Windows, ALT was not used for
> such things by the OS or window mgr - at least not the ones I used
> back then (Control Data, Univac, IBM, VAX/VMS, various UNIXen,...).
> AFAIK, Windows was the one to spread window-mgr use of ALT far and
> wide.  In this regard, KDE and Gnome are just come-lately ugly
> ducklings waddling to keep up with their Microsoft mom.

I didn't know about the old history of the Alt key.  The IBM PC was
the first time I saw them.  Perhaps you can add some stuff to the
Wikipedia page on the Alt key so that the rest of us can know?

> > They are not exactly right, but I admire their diligence in
> > countering the Microsoft corporatization of the everyday keyboard.
> Hm.  You push for Windows-compatible behavior while spearheading the
> attack on MS.  OK.  I do too sometimes.
> ...
> And you have the cart before the horse.  The PC keyboard does not
> risk _becoming_ MS-corporatized.  Your "everyday keyboard" was
> _engendered_ by Microsoft and its partner at the time, IBM.  You
> don't need to save the PC keyboard from MS; you need to thank or
> blame MS for it in the first place.

We are going off-topic here.  So, I will be brief.

I am not opposed to commerce.  If a company makes a product that is
useful to me and charges me money that I can afford, I am happy to buy
it and use it.  That is normal life in a capitalist society.

But I am opposed to commercialization.  The Windows keys were not on
the IBM PC keyboard.  Microsoft added them.  They are good modifier
keys.  So, I have no problem with Microsoft adding them.  My
opposition is to Microsoft branding them, charging royalty to the
keyboard manufacturers, and locking up the keys in Windows-specific
ways so that they are *not free*.  And, software freedom is what we
are here about.  So, it is a surprise to me that the people here don't
attack this violation of freedom as vigorously as possible.

The true free software people might say, "serves you right for using
commercial software."  But that is not right.  Violation of freedom
should be fought no matter what.  These are normal ways for consumers
in a capitalist economy to fight corporatization.  Free software
should ally with them.

In the present instance, that means that, for people like Lennart and
me who need to use the Win keys in ways that Microsoft did not intend,
Emacs should provide all support possible.  Asking us what proportion
of Windows users actually want to use Win keys this way etc., is

> You want Emacs to roll over and
> adapt to MS's use of ALT, but somehow the rest of us are caving in
> to MS?  What am I missing?

The Alt is not at issue because Emacs can control how the Alt key gets
mapped via the standardard option settings.  It is not able to do so
for the Win key.  Accepting that as life would amount to caving in to
MS, yes.

> Having any such key available provides significant advantages, no
> matter what behavior is mapped to it.  I'm in favor of letting Emacs
> users bind the Window key to whatever they want.  If it is
> "unlocked" then it should be easy for Emacs users to bind it to
> whatever they want, no?
> And if it is _not_ easy to do that out of the box, then I, for one,
> welcome code that will help users do that.  Being able to bind the
> Window key to Meta, as one possibility, one option, can only be a
> positive feature - IMO at least.

Good.  I am glad that we are on the same side!

> But the cost (e.g. implementation) has to be worth it.  I do not see
> opposition to the _idea_ of such a feature.  I do see reluctance to
> simply gulp down whatever brew Lennart has on tap.

Well, a good part of this thread has been spent on repeatedly asking
Lennart and me, "why you do you need to map the Windows key to meta,"
"why is it the best possible solution," "how many people want to do
things that way?" and so on.  Politically, at least, these are not the
right questions to ask.

It is perfectly fine to say, "let us do it outside of Emacs."  Then we
could have focused on what needs to be done and what programs are out
there that can do it, or whether we need to write new programs etc.
That is the kind of stuff that matters.


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