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Text-Terminals on Linux


10.2 Padding

Another way to handle a "worst case" situation (without using flow control or buffers) is to add a bunch of nulls (bytes of value zero) to escape sequences. Sometimes DEL's are used instead provided they have no other function. See Recognize Del.

The escape sequence starts the terminal doing something, and while the terminal is busy doing it, it receives a bunch of nulls which it ignores. When it gets the last null, it has completed its task and is ready for the next command. This is called null padding. These nulls formerly were called "fill characters". These nulls are added just to "waste" time, but it's not all wasted since the terminal is usually kept busy doing something else while the nulls are being received. It was much used in the past before flow control became popular. To be efficient, just the right amount of nulls should be added and figuring out this is tedious. It was often done by trial and error since terminal manuals are of little or no help. If flow control doesn't work right or is not implemented, padding is one solution. Some of the options to the stty command involve padding.

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