Tag Archives: codes

ascii: Quick and dirty info

This next title is a quick and obvious tool, and I had been holding it back because it seemed a little too simple. This is ascii.


Which, as you can see, either displays a chart of ASCII conversion data, or takes a string of digits and returns their conversion, as would be useful in a script. Escaped characters and control characters are possible too, as well as octal or hex values.

ascii does a few other things that serve in the same kind of situation; check the help flag or the man page for ascii’s second-string tricks.

But … that’s all I can think to do with it. The value in ascii is its quick-fire accessibility to character codes. And beyond that … ? :\

kbd: So terribly important

I ran into a few logistical problems today, all the more complicated by the holiday season.

Nothing worthy of relating here, but it did eat a lot of the time I would have spent picking around in software.

And as luck would have it, the first tool in the K section is a really important one — kbd.


kbd is a suite of programs really, that all roll around the idea of managing your keyboard.

That could mean setting an international keyboard, setting fonts, handling key repeat rates, digging out keycodes for extended or special keyboard keys, and so forth.

Which means it is terribly important if you want to live life in a text-only arrangement.

kbd is no slouch; by most accounts there are probably 25 or more smaller applications that are installed in the packet (in Arch, at least 😉 ). Including such classics as:

  • kbdinfo, which is dandy for getting the state of LEDs and so forth,
  • kbdrate, which lets you set the delay and repeat rate,
  • loadkeys, good for setting a keymap,
  • resizecons, which sets the lines on the screen, but doesn’t quite work like you think it does,
  • setfont, to get a better shape of letters, or special characters,
  • setleds, which turns lamps on and off,
  • showkey, which is important for pinning down special keys, and …
  • vlock, as a basic and straightforward console lock.

That’s just a small sample of what you’ll get. For only three monthly installments of only $0.00 per month. :mrgreen:

Joking aside, I should mention that a lot of those — and others in kbd — won’t work from a terminal emulator in X. So don’t go pounding out an angry e-mail to me because setfont doesn’t quite work inside rxvt-unicode. 🙄

kbd has been around for such a long time that there is tons of documentation available on it.

man pages are all a good place to start, but look here, and here too for more info. You’re bound to find what you’re looking for.

P.S., Debian handles console fonts a little differently from Arch; try dpkg-reconfigure console-setup for starters. After that, see what the Debian gurus suggest.