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Linux® Desk Reference, Second Edition by Scott Hawkins

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Introduction

The UNIX terminal interface is a masterpiece of generalized programming. It tries to be all things to all hardware, and, for the most part, it succeeds. Consequently, however, it is a little complicated.

Because the control codes for monitors vary widely from vendor to vendor and from model to model, program output used to be hardware-specific. In effect, every time you wanted a program to run on a new piece of hardware, you had to rewrite the program. Obviously, this got cumbersome very quickly.

Linux uses intermediate programs to take the output of application programs and translate it into whatever format the display device needs. In effect, these programs are databases of hardware capabilities and control codes. These programs ...

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