Assigning terminals in BBX config.bbx
Posted by Dirk Hart
Because pseudo tty numbers are assigned on a first-come
first-served basis it can be difficult to assign the users the same
'terminal number' each time they log in . Here is a nifty way to
tame those pesky tty numbers and get them to settle down.
When each user logs in they customarily run a script named
.profile in their home directory. The .profile does things like set
the INTR key sequence, the TERMCAP environment variable and exec
bbx. The bit of script shown here will also set an environment
variable called BBTERM which bbx knows about and looks for.
In this example, set passes back the terminal number if it finds
LOGNAME in the set.bbterm table otherwise xyzx is passed and BBTERM
is set accordingly.
set `grep $LOGNAME /u/set.bbterm` xyzx
if [ "" != "xyzx" ]
Fig.1: script to be added to .profile to set BBTERM
For example if someone logs in as pulsar BBTERM is set to
Fig.2: Example of set.bbterm
Be sure you have T300 and all the other terminals number
mentioned in config.bbx.
alias T300 /dev/tty ansicoe
alias T301 /dev/tty ansicoe
alias T302 /dev/tty ansicoe
alias T303 /dev/tty ansicoe
alias T304 /dev/tty ansicoe
Fig.3: Part of config.bbx
If the terminal type is term instead of ansicoe, bbx takes the
terminal type from the TERM environment variable.
There are similar ways of dealing with FacetTerm and multiple
FacetWin logins as well.
The examples I gave is from a live BBx PRO5 system, I am quite
certain it works on BBx Pro4, pretty sure it works on Pro3 and I'm
quite surprsed to hear someone is still using BBx Pro2 ... your
customer surely knows how to squeeze a dime.
In BBx every tty line must be described in the config.bbx file.
This lets every tty be assigned a unique terminal number such as
T0, T1,T2...T300, or in your case TA..TZ, Ta..Tz.
There was a time when *all* BB applications came off of Basic
Four systems which used terminal numbers such as T0..T9,TA..TZ and
there were only serial tty's in those days. Life was simple and
good and everyone wrote applications that used the terminal number
(T300, eg) to control certain things like preventing more than 1
person from editing the same order, to keep the shipping dept from
inspected the Genral Ledger, or to prevent the counter terminals
from displaying cost data that customers might see and such like
that. Many many applications were written that only ever expected
the terminal to be 2 characters long (T2, e.g.) and the world was
thrown into a spin when 3 character terminal numers (T10..T99) were
When BBx came along not only could you have 512 terminals, but
they weren't restricted to 3 characters - you could have T1000 or
even Ttony and the ilk - but your application still had to be able
to handle such terminal numbers - if it used terminal numbers to
control things at all, and application packages pretty much all
And then came PCs and LANs and pseudo ttys. Since the tty number
assigned to an incoming connection over the network (ttyp0, ttyp1,
ttyp2, etc.) is for all intents and purposes random we need to
depend on other things to set the terminal number. One of those
things is LOGNAME as I outlined previously. With FacetWin it might
be the NETBIOS name of the PC.
Now back to config.bbx. Every incoming terminal based connection
must be described. The format of the terminal defintion entries in
alias <terminal number> <tty number> <terminal type> <options>
alias T300 /dev/ttyi00 wy60
assigns T300 to the serial terminal connecting to the system on
/dev/ttyi01 and that BBx will communicate with that terminal as
though it were a Wyse 60 (wy60) terminal. Of course if that
terminal is a VT100 terminal, odd things will happens to character
positioning and other aspects of the display. If we use 'term' in
place of wy60 BBx will take the terminal type from the TERM
environment variable. BBx is TERMCAP based and comes with it's own
TERMCAP file, usually located in the same directory as config.bbx.
This termcap has more function keys described for many terminals,
but is otherwise a regular termcap.
If you have PCs connecting to BBx applications you can assign a
value to an environment variable called BBTERM. BBx will check the
environment upon startup and will assign the value of BBTERM to the
current pseudo tty. For example, if you set BBTERM=T300 (and export
it!) BBx will start it's new session with a terminal number of
T300. The skill is entirely in how you a value to BBTERM. In bob's
.profile you can simply say BBTERM=T300;export BBTERM and that user
will always get T300. In mary's .profile you can set BBTERM=T301
and mary always gets assigned T301. You can also use the same home
directory for all users and make use of the little scriptlet
previously posted to assign terminal numbers (preferred method for
large installs). Note that if you are using BBTERM to assign the
terminal number you don't need to fully describe the tty number,
which is why you sometimes see aliases such as:
alias T300 /dev/tty term
To check your terminal numbr from a bbx console prompt ( '>'
aka 'READY arrow' or READY prompt) type in PRINT FID(0). If it says
IO you have not properly assigned a terminal number and your
display will be a mess.
Finally you should be aware that bbx devices usually start with
a 'magic' character. T for terminal devices, L or P for printers,
etc. All devices starting with T, such as T300, are send control
codes appropriate to terminals (remember termcap?) and similarly
all L and P devices are sent control codes appropriate to
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© 2011-04-30 Dirk Hart