Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2005-11-08
  Bits of tech
So now that I'm working on unix stuff again (change of directions onto another project, long story), I updated the cygwin stuff and dusted off my x-server hat to dig into why the system had been misbehaving. I had been using cygwin for sometime quite happily back on my old machine, but at some point things had gotten messed up and suddenly all my cool keyboard shortcuts had stopped working.

See I took the original design to heart, which was that presentation was purely up to the designs of the user. While this is probably not appropriate for every person, for a few of us power users its totally the way to go. I got rid of almost all window decorations, including title bars and other wasted space, and mapped every possible window management function I could think of needing to keyboard operations instead. So ALT+right mouse would move a window down, and ALT+left would raise a different one up. F1 would iconify a window ( as well as ALT + i ), and there were others for things like resize and move. It was a little big ackward when others would come to my workstation and want to do something, but the answer was as simple as shutting down my window manager and starting one from their account ( the applications themselves didn't notice one bit ). Then I could go back to life my own way when it was all over.

This got me a pretty powerful setup (see above for a screen-shot, shrunk down 5X just so it would fit in this window), except of course something had gone terribly wrong and all my keyboard commands were just clunking the bell at me instead of doing what they were supposed to do. I had tried mucking with the keyboard settings, xmodmap, keysyms and every thing else in the translation path I could think of; and given up in frustration before, but now I really needed it to work.

I'm not sure how I found it, but today I ran across xkbwatch. I didn't even look for a man page ( there isn't one anyways ), but seeing those little green squares solved the problem. Turns out that there are a few more modifiers being tracked these days. There's the usual shift, control, alt, and caps; but someone had thrown num-lock and scroll-lock into the mix as well. It was sitting there glowing at me, and as soon as I turned it num-lock off, all my buttons were back to normal. Looks like I'll just be able to define a second set of bindings with mod1 added in and I should be fine in any case.

Well on with the fun.

 
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