The Fugue Counterpoint by Hans Fugal


tmux C-Left in

I use on OS X, and I want to bind ctrl-left/right to cycle through tmux windows (like I did with screen).

The tmux incantation is easy to find online:

bind-key -n C-Left prev
bind-key -n C-Right next

This doesn't work though, because is sending ^[[5D for left instead of what tmux expects. In my case, with TERM=xterm-256color, tmux is expecting ^[[1;5D for C-Left and ^[[1;5C for C-Right. You can change this in the settings. Ideally would magically send the right values based on the TERM setting, if there is such a thing as the right values in the world of terminfo and modified arrow keys.

I would prefer to tell tmux to accept ^[[5D instead of ^[[1;5D, which is what I did in my screen config, but I can't see any way to tell tmux to take a raw escape sequence instead of logical keys. I prefer that so that I don't have to remember (or research) magical incantations to configure the next time I start from scratch on OS X. So if you know how, let me know.


Why I switched to Git

I love it when someone else writes what I've been meaning to write, so I don't have to write it.

This article covers the reasons why I switched from mercurial to git, about as well as he could possibly hope to without consulting me, reading my mind, or being me. It's a bit creepy.

He explains it very well (probably better than I would) and has more insight into the technical details than I do.

While we're on the subject, you should all go read git for computer scientists so you can think like a git. If you already have a CS background, it's quite painless I assure you.


Darcs and Mercurial Redux

I've been getting a few comments on my other post, and I just got another excellent reply by email from Trent Buck. As I was writing my reply to him, it occurred to me that it might be better to reply here in order to clarify things for posterity.

Regarding darcs record, Trent said,

Analogous to hg record, new in 0.9.5

I was aware of this, as of that morning, but hadn't had much opportunity to try it out. I did mention it in passing later in the post. It bears repeating what I said then—many of the most useful behaviors of mercurial are in extensions that while distributed must be enabled in your .hgrc.

On the other hand, darcs uses _darcs to store its metadata, which is
probably for cross-platform reasons but is definitely an
eyesore. (.darcs would be better).

I don't know why people complain about this. CVS doesn't use dotdirs
either, but nobody switching away from it says "wow, fantastic! At
last I need ls -a to see the metadata!".

I purposefully didn't get started on CVS. Nobody I know likes seeing CVS directories, and they're really of little use 90% of the time. One thing I love about both darcs and mercurial (and most other distributed RCSs) is that the repo is right there, not stashed away in some other place on the disk. CVS has the worst of both worlds. _darcs made me ecstatic, .hg made me that much more pleased.

It's annoyingly inconvenient to grab a specific revision (partly
because such a concept doesn't really exist) or a specific point of

Important revisions (e.g. releases) can be named (darcs tag). You can
grab a specific subsets of patch by pulling into an null repo with the
--match or --patch argument. While I haven't tried it, I assume you
can --match by date/time less than a particular date.

Yes, the way to do it is by --match or --patch (I don't remember which). It's certainly possible. I may have just got off on the wrong foot in this regards with darcs, but I've always found darcs to be mildly hostile to going back to the past. On the other hand, locating certain patches is very powerful in darcs, and by the nature of darcs you can do powerful things with them.

Darcs has no idea of branching. Or more precisely, every darcs
repository is its own branch and so it leaves that up to you. That's
theoretically ok, but I do prefer to keep the clutter of multiple
working copies at bay. Combined with not having to rebuild the whole
project from scratch and not wasting the disk space for a large
working directory,

Both hg and darcs use hard links automatically when working on
multiple one-branch-per-repo repos, if the filesystem supports hard

Mea culpa. I was aware of this and the implication that darcs didn't do it slipped through in my sloppy writing.

in-place switching to certain branches/revisions like git and hg do
is really nice.


The two real thorns in the side of darcs are the dreaded exponential
merge (I have run into it, alas), and the fact that I have a devil
of a time getting it to run everywhere I am. Haskell is not that
common, and it's a big thing to have to build, e.g. with MacPorts.
That's when it will build at all (but that MacPorts rant is for
another post). There are binaries for windows and mac, but
sometimes they don't work and versions don't match up... it can be a
nightmare. It can usually work out, but it can be difficult.


I mentioned cherry picking. One UI flaw in darcs that greatly
reduces the real-world utility of its excellent cherry picking
support is that you can't tell it that you would prefer to refuse
this patch for ever and ever. Every time you pull you have to tell
it "no, I don't want that patch".

Conceded. I would quite like this feature, too. AFAICT the current
workaround is to pull the patch you don't want, then record an inverse
patch (darcs rollback). The other trick is to make sure you always
pull a restricted subset using --patch or --match. Perhaps you could
automate this with pull match not hash=XXX in _darcs/prefs/defaults,
but I have not tried this.

Interesting workarounds, thanks.

hg is quick and easy to type.

So do

alias d=darcs


x=`which darcs`  # not posix
ln -s "$x" "${x%arcs}"

I concede that it's a weak argument, but it was just a stream-of-consciousness set of observations and not a structured argument. In practice I use tab completion and only really do this sort of thing with repetitive options (e.g. ll for ls -l) or where there is an annoying tab-completion ambiguity.

It has a powerful extension mechanism, with many interesting
extensions available.

Agreed, this is an important feature.

CVS-like abbreviations for minimal typing are handy.

Darcs similarly supports truncated commands—to least ambiguous
string, rather than explicit aliases. I'm told Hg and Bzr do not do
it this way because then people would be confused when activating a
new extension suddenly meant you had to type a longer command string,
because there was more ambiguity.

Also true, and fell victim to my not-quite-parallel treatment of darcs and mercurial. The CVS abbreviations are nice for people who 'grew up' during the CVS occupation.

It has a built in webserver for quick and easy web-based
collaboration (for firewall reasons or for an interface to the repo
for non-hg users).

Meh. HTTPds are cheap to set up, e.g.

thttpd -u $USER -d $PWD -p 8118

I assume you mean with a darcs cgi? In any case, hg serve is undeniably easier.

However it's worth noting that the built-in mercurial httpd supports
hg push (via POST), but does no access control, and does not support
other important commands (e.g. in-repo branching).

I was not aware push was supported at all, but according to the wiki, push
support requires
including telling it who can push (access control by http auth and using https).
In any case, for my own project I would either give developers ssh access or require they submit patches by email. But I can see where a fully-featured HTTP repo with access controls would come in handy for some development flows.

It's storage efficient, and has the novel and all-important
optimization principle of avoiding disk seeks.

Meh. Optimize later.

For the most part I agree with you. But it is the sort of thing that demonstrates that the authors have system programming experience and know what kinds of optimizations matter (disk seeks) and what kind don't (writing in Python instead of C). Premature optimization may be the root of all evil, but not all optimization is premature. As a case in point, see the thorn in darcs' side (exponential merge). If they said today that they fixed exponential merge, they would get some of their refugees back, but not all. And much of the damage of bad publicity is already done (and I regret that these posts probably contribute however small to that phenomenon).

This is especially true of pull and push which don't update the
working directory.

hg fetch does, but it does not (currently) support in-repo branching.

Another of those included-but-not-enabled features. I wasn't aware fetch doesn't support in-repo branching, but probably because I think of fetch more as a network action.

Some of the most useful stuff is provided by extensions that are
disabled by default (at least they are distributed). fetch, record
(for darcs-like hunk-by-hunk recording), mq, bisect, transplant (for
cherry picking).

Transplant doesn't actually cherry-pick a changeset; it commits a
different changeset with a different hash which happens to make
identical changes to the working tree.

Very true, and an important distinction. I intend to blog soon on quilt, patches, and cherry picking, so I didn't get into this much.

It doesn't have the cherry picking abilities of darcs, though there
is the record extension (for cherry picking from your working
directory) and the transplant extension (for cherry picking

While vastly better than bzr shelve, these are quick and dirty hacks
because darcs-style cherry picking isn't possible when each changeset
implicitly depends on its immediate ancestor (the case in hg and bzr).

Or they are simply different approaches. Again, look for that post Real Soon Now™. I might mention that to my (very limited) understanding, git cherry picking works in the same fashion. Darcs is quite unique in this respect, in my experience.

I haven't used the latter yet so I don't know if it works well or
not. .hgignore is easy to manage, but comes with almost no useful
defaults. This is for performance reasons apparently, but I'd be
willing to take the hit.

.hgignore and darcs' boring file are much of a muchness.

Absolutely. As are the equivalents in cvs, svn, git, etc. However, darcs' system-wide boring file is populated much more aggressively. You never have to add .o files or emacs/vim swap files, because they're already there.

I don't like that I have to type ssh urls out, as

Agreed. Darcs uses scp notation, although it also has trouble with
tilde expansion. Note that darcs push to an ssh repository will apply
pushed patches to the working tree, which hg and bzr do not attempt to
do. Like rsync, darcs needs to be installed on both ends of the ssh
link for a push (but not a pull) to accomplish this.

I have run into the tilde expansion issue. The push behavior I described above as surprising.

I don't like that you don't get compatible repositories if you start
from the same code. For example:

tar xzf foo-1.0.tar.gz
rsync -a foo-1.0 foo-1.0-2
cd foo-1.0
hg init
hg ci -Am 'initial'
cd ../foo-1.0-2
hg init
hg ci -Am 'initial'

At this point you cannot pull or push from one of these repositories
to the other, although they are semantically identical. I do this
from time to time with darcs.

This can't be done (safely) in darcs either; it's only an accident
that it worked at all for the OP.

I've (rightfully) gotten the most slack over this bit. I agree it's bad form. Shame on me! The frustration arose out of a frustrating situation. I was mirroring the FlightGear data repository (.hg alone is 890MB) for three different branches (OSG and plib from FlightGear's CVS, and someone else's git repository). Due to limitations of CVS and tailor, I had to redownload the entire CVS repo, and the two had no common history. The fault here lies with CVS and tailor, really, but the above behavior would have allowed me to work around it.

Jamie said in a comment,

I can't claim I have much trouble setting default push/pull locations, and if you hg clone from a remote repository it sets it up automatically to be there for you.

In .hg/hgrc,


I maintain that hg should figure it out after the first couple pushes/pulls without a set default (as darcs does), but thanks for the tip. I'm sure I would have found it when I got around to RTFMing the second time around, or when I got annoyed enough.

Someone else defended git as being not overly complicated. I do think git theory is slightly more complicated than hg or darcs, but what I was really referring to is the UI. git help -a returns a staggering 126 commands. Some may call that power and flexibility, but IMHO it's complication. Still, it has come a long long way in usability and I don't hesitate to nod my head in recommendation when someone chooses to use it.

Thanks to all for your comments. I enjoy the discussion.



Back in 2003-2004 I worked with a team of bright graduate and undergraduate EE
and CS students at BYU on VMAC, which was Mike Baxter's Masters project. In short,
VMAC is about generic realtime control using standard PCs and mass produceable
control boards, communicating over ethernet. We're talking about controlling
everything from dishwashers, washing machines, lighting, sprinklers, ovens,
fans, etc. Imagine downloading a special wash cycle for your dishwasher, or
designing your own perfect artisan bread oven cycle, and running it from work
(or from cron). It was a fun project for the obvious reasons.

It was also a fun project because I got to do some serious system programming.
I was in charge of the core scheduler and communications in QNX. I hand-crafted
ethernet frames (TCP/IP was too much overhead), wrote my own QNX network stack,
juggled various threads with different realtime priorities, and lived to see it
all work, and work well.

Mike's thesis has made it through the red tape gauntlet and is available for
you to read at You can
read all about it and see the Doxygen
documentation of the code I wrote. You probably won't, but what's cool (to me)
is that you could.