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Re: M-x mystery

From: Teemu Likonen
Subject: Re: M-x mystery
Date: Mon, 02 Jan 2012 21:40:57 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.2 (gnu/linux)

* 2012-01-02T09:37:15-08:00 * Silvio Levy wrote:

> And that's what I don't understand. It's one thing for <ESC> x to be
> treated as M-x because some people lack that alt key, but for emacs to
> *convert* the keycode <alt>x to <ESC> x seems to me like poor design.

That's a historical Unix text terminal thing. All input must have a
"slot" in the current character set. That is, everything must be a
character (code). There is this concept of Meta key which is produced by
Esc in today's keyboards. Its Ascii code is 27 so it's a character (kind

If we want to use Alt key in text terminals we must decide which
character (code) it produces. Well, the choice has already been made for
us. Alt+x was chosen to insert Meta x so that it's easier to type those
Meta key combinations.

Emacs in Unix text terminals is tied to this design of text terminals
(remember, you can use them through a modem/serial line). Emacs's
graphical user interface does not _need_ to be as limited but apparently
developers want it to be as compatible as possible anyway - and I agree
with them.

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