Software Flow Control and vim

In the early 90’s, one of the things I liked about Microsoft’s ecosystem was that they developed a standard for keyboard shortcuts. In most applications, developed by Microsoft or not, you could hit ctrl-p to print or ctrl-x to exit. Or ctrl-s to save. It’s quite convenient when I’m using Windows applications, but hitting ctrl-s to save without really thinking about it hangs vim. Hangs like “go into another shell and kill vim & that ssh session”. This is because ctrl-s, in Linux, means XOFF — the software flow control command that means “hi, I’m a thing from 1968 and my buffer is getting full. chill out for a bit and let me catch up”. Recovery is simple enough, send XON — “hi, that thing from 1968 again, and I’m all caught up. send me some more stuff”. That’s ctrl-q.

But there aren’t many slow anything‘s involved in computing these days, which means XON/XOFF isn’t the most useful of features for most people (* if you’ve got real serial devices attached … you may not be “most people” here). Instead of remembering ctrl-q gets gets vim back without killing it, just disable START/STOP control. Thing is it’s not really vim that’s using flow control — it’s the terminal emulator — so the “fix” isn’t something you’ll have to do in vim. In your ~/.bashrc or ~/.bash_profile (or globally in something like /etc/profile.d/disableFlowControl.sh)

# Disable XON/XOFF flow control so ctrl-s doesn’t hang vim
stty -ixon

If you can add -ixoff to avoid ctrl-q from meaning XON too … but I don’t bother since “start sending me data” doesn’t seem to hang anything.

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