Northward Midget Pole to Pole

23Jul/150

Why 80 characters?

Searching for reasonable values for the *.vt100.geometry[5-6] xterm menu font-menu options in my ~/.Xdefaults file, I re-stumbled a gem of computing history as the top-answer to a question on StackOverflow, and this pretty picture of an old IBM punch-card.

Inspired by a perl script within the comments, I ran this shell pipe:

2015-07-23 10:30:00 :: ~
 rons@rons-VM$ find /usr/share/terminfo/ -type f -printf '%f\n' |
   xargs -n1 infocmp | egrep -o 'cols#[0-9]+, *lines#[0-9]+' |
   sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | head
 489  cols#80,  lines#24
 58   cols#132, lines#24
 55   cols#80,  lines#25
 27   cols#80,  lines#34
 15   cols#80,  lines#40
 15   cols#80,  lines#31
 14   cols#80,  lines#33
 12   cols#126, lines#24
 10   cols#85,  lines#64
 8    cols#80,  lines#42

Unsure if infocmp normalizes its output such that the cols and lines entries will always be adjoined, but this is good enough for my purposes.

80x24 wins by a landslide, with 132x24 a distant second.   Then I found a Gnome help page which added 80x43 and 132x43 as options for its gooey{sic} terminal.  Next, a quick stop at the SVGA documentation in the Linux kernel with another list of common geometries.

Finally, the Wikipedia Text Mode entry which included a neat table of common text modes:

Text res. Char. size Graphics res. Colors Adapters
80×25 9×14 720×350 B&W MDA, Hercules
40×25 8×8 320×200 16 CGA, EGA
80×25 8×8 640×200 16 CGA, EGA
80×25 8×14 640×350 16 EGA
80×43 8×8 640×350 16 EGA
80×25 9×16 720×400 16 VGA
80×30 8×16 640×480 16 VGA
80×50 9×8 720×400 16 VGA
80×60 16 VESA-compatible SVGA
132×25 16 VESA-compatible SVGA
132×43 16 VESA-compatible SVGA
132×50 16 VESA-compatible SVGA
132×60 16 VESA-compatible SVGA

I think I'll go with 80x50 and 132x60.

 

Posted by Quinn

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