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  1.    #1  
    Other people on this board including myself have recently lamented the omission of the CTRL and ESC keys on the TouchPad's virtual keyboard. This poses a real problem for those people who NEED to use vi. While the Palm phones have a sequence to generate these characters, TouchPad users were left in the dark. Until now....

    I noticed many alternate keys don't generate characters on the screen. I suspected they were generating *something*. So I started playing with multiple-key sequences to see what I could find.

    I found out how to generate ANY control character (including ESC)!

    The CTRL key is emulated by pressing and HOLDING the 't' key, waiting for the secondary keys to pop up and hitting the right-most one. It looks like "|o". It's what's called the 'thorn' symbol.

    To send a CTRL-x, hit the 'thorn' key then, immediately hit the 'x' key. This sends a CTRL-x.

    To send a CTRL-k, hit the 'thorn' key, then press 'k'.

    To verify this is so, start up an xserver/xterm via xecutah and then start up vi and put it into 'insert' mode, type a few control characters as outlined above. You can see vi echo the control characters as "^X" and "^K".

    And the Coup de Grace is the ESC key. It's simply CTRL-[. To generate that, hit the 'thorn' key, then press '['. Simple as that. Try it in a vi session and you'll see it switches you out of 'insert' mode. I tried it locally on the TP using a local xterm, then I ssh'd to a remote machine and did the same vi test.

    Works great! Now that I discovered this, my TP is 10x more useful to me!

    Now that we know we can generate any CTRL key as well as the ESC key, would be nice if the keyboard can be patched to generate the ESC sequence with just a single keystroke as outlined above. Maybe we can get a dedicated key so we can generate ESC quickly. It's just a 'CTRL-[' or '|o-[' or 'thorn-[' - I hope a keyboard patch can emulate that. This would be a real boon to those that need to use vi from their TouchPads.

    Now only if we could get PuTTY ported to the TP....
    Last edited by jblather; 09/14/2011 at 05:30 PM.
  2. #2  
    Your "weirdo symbol", ■, is called a thorn. It's an Old English character that was replaced by 'th' in modern English.
  3.    #3  
    Thanks for the explanation. I was wondering what the heck "|o" was. I updated the original post.
  4. #4  
    thanks alot, but what is "vi"?
  5.    #5  
    vi is a text editor in Unix/Linux. It is probably the most-used text editor in Unix/Linux land.

    Please see: vi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    With this technique, one can use vi or even emacs from a TouchPad.

    Vi uses the ESC key a lot, emacs uses the CTRL key a lot. This 'workaround' makes their use possible from the TouchPad, finally.
    hypertech and dectech like this.
  6. #6  
    Man this rocks! I could get away with it using the bluetooth keyboard but having to carry that around all the time was a hassle - now I don't have to!
  7. #7  
    oh, man, thanks for this finding! This is excellent!! Now I can throw my laptop to the trash, this is what I was missing from my TP! :-)
    Just remember: If I helped you, press the thanks button!

    Owner of: Pre Sprint, Pre Telcel, Pre Plus AT&T, Pre 2 Unlocked, Pixi Plus AT&T, and 2 TouchPads (my Pre3 was stolen so it won't appear again here).
    Needs: Veer (anyone?)
    Apps: Subnet Calculator, FreeCam, PhotoFun, NuttyPad (work in progress)
    HomeBrew: meta-doctor and Messaging Plugins collaborator
    Twitter: @cesarneg
  8. #8  
    Huge thanks to jblather. I kept meaning to mess around with xev and see what keycodes were being generated in my Copious Free TimeÖ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Orion Antares View Post
    Your "weirdo symbol", ■, is called a thorn. It's an Old English character that was replaced by 'th' in modern English.
    The ■ is also the origin of using "ye" in place of "the" to make a sign look ancient. One of the printed variants looks like a "y".
    gharkay likes this.
  9. #9  
    I wonder if these keys can be remapped. I remember rod saying that webOS just eats ESC commands so finding a native way to do it seems useful
    Last edited by FenrirWolf; 09/14/2011 at 09:43 PM.
  10. #10  
    I have released Xecutah 0.8.5 to the testing feed with this new information included.


    -- Rod
    WebOS Internals and Preware Founder and Developer
    You may wish to donate by Paypal to donations @ if you find our work useful.
    All donations go back into development.
  11. #11  
    well, if we now have ctrl+k and ctrl+p all we need is for someone to port Goldstar to webOS.
  12. #12  
    Quote Originally Posted by jblather View Post
    Now only if we could get PuTTY ported to the TP....
    what's wrong with openssh?
  13. #13  
    what is Xecutah? and is there a way to add a cursor back and forward to the virtual keyboard? i've been playing around with keyboard layouts to include these additional keys to have a better keyboard but i'm not a developer so i can't make it happen.
  14. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by hrminer92 View Post
    what's wrong with openssh?
    openssh great but putty comes with a gui and a profile manager, just more convenient.
  15.    #15  
    To use OpenSSH, have to fire up Xecutah, then Xserver the Xterm, then openssh. Kinda clumsy.

    With PuTTY, you only have to select which profile you want to connect to - a very concise interface and loved by many. No starting other programs to use it.

    Nothing wrong with openssh, but not nearly as convenient as PuTTY.
    Last edited by jblather; 09/15/2011 at 01:28 AM.
  16.    #16  
    Okay, I see that we won't be able to have a keyboard patch to emulate the ESC key. This is because the ESC key is really two characters, the 'thorn' (see OP) and then the right bracket ('['). Keys can generate only one 'character' at a time. Bummer.

    But could we bring the 'thorn' key (which is really the CTRL key) to be its own dedicated key? That would making typing any CTRL key (including ESC) much easier and less clumsy.
  17.    #17  
    Quote Originally Posted by llama233 View Post
    Man this rocks! I could get away with it using the bluetooth keyboard but having to carry that around all the time was a hassle - now I don't have to!
    Exactly - if I had to carry around a keyboard as well, I might as well carry my lappy or a netbook. This makes the TP all that more useful. I keep all my mail on a unix server using a plain-jane text interface (pine). This lets me access my email from anywhere, securely, without having to POP or IMAP and all from my TouchPad!
    Last edited by jblather; 09/15/2011 at 01:32 AM.
  18.    #18  
    Quote Originally Posted by un_designer View Post
    what is Xecutah?
    Xecutah is a way to launch xserver and then xterm. If you install the preware xterm app, it will also automatically download and install xserver and xecutah to your TP.
    Last edited by jblather; 09/15/2011 at 01:55 AM.
  19. decalex's Avatar
    238 Posts
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    1. So awesome, thanks for finding and ■osting this!
    2. Wutt in the hell?? Is there some kind of secret reason as to why they would do this?

  20. #20  
    BTW, use vi not emacs =D
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    Experimental warthog kernels for webOS devices. Patches such as Muffle System Logging, Max Blocker etc.

    Donations go towards further experimentation.
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