Apple’s Terminal: Its hard to find something more retarded

Compared with a real X11-Terminal application, the Apple Terminal sucks. Big Time.

“Whats wrong with it?” you may ask.

Lets start simple. Command-line applications cannot receive mouse events when running inside the Apple Terminal. And the keyboard is messed up (yeah, I’m running Apple, so I probably are supposed to use the Mouse to enter certain keys, like Page-Up and Page-Down.).

Since switching from a real System to the Mac (superior hardware, but dont get me started about the soft side), I really started to appreciate the power of the X11-Terminals you find in all Linux distributions. I’m a command line guy, so working with a Mac feels like being a Catholic Priest sitting in a Nudist Colony – Sin whereever you look.

Gettin Midnight Commander was easy, once I found MacPorts. But working with it was pain. No, torture. I can live without a mouse – but without a Page-Up and -Down key, browsing directories or looking at files becomes a nightmare. And without a insert-key, selecting files is not fun either. I was about to give up and end my days using muCommander. MuCommander is a Midnight-/Norton Commander clone, but copying files over the network is horrible slow and there is no command line either, so navigating complex directory structures is a keystroke hell.

But then a heavenly voice spoke to me: “Thomas. You are using Apple software.” And I remembered. Apple software usually comes good looking but not neccessaily “complete” – more like prove of concept things than real applications. So maybe its not the Mac OS (its Unix after all – and thus hard to get wrong) – its the application. Fireing up X11 and xterm convinced me: Yes, that Apple was a foul one.

Its not that mouse support is a experimental one. Its has been there since at least 9 years now. Have no rush, Apple, I can wait another 9 years. Who needs Mouse support anyway. (Note that I say that to a audience that did not manage to make UI elements like comboboxes navigatable via the keyboard. I have seen Comboboxes on my C64’s GEOS system and yes, they where usable via a keyboard.)

But not getting the keyboard right is a killer. Running X11 and XTerm on the same machine gets it right out of the box. So its not that they dont have the tools. They dont have either a clue how to adapt the XTerm code to their own codebase or they dont care. (Guess what I think what the reason is.)

I would happily drag the XTerm application on the launcher bar. BUT I CANT. The launcher does not launch just anything – it must be a blessed application bundle. So to start the XTerm, I need a command line, which Xterm would provide. Thanks again, Apple.

(If anyone knows a sensible terminal application that supports ncurses mouse-events, please drop me a line. I start to get desperate.)

This entry was posted in Off-Topic, Rants on by .

About Thomas

After working as all-hands guy and lead developer on Pentaho Reporting for over an decade, I have learned a thing or two about report generation, layouting and general BI practices. I have witnessed the remarkable growth of Pentaho Reporting from a small niche product to a enterprise class Business Intelligence product. This blog documents my own perspective on Pentaho Reporting's development process and our our steps towards upcoming releases.