AltGr keyboard layer under GEOS?

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Matthias Paul

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Mar 13, 2002, 6:09:19 AM3/13/02
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Hi,

Probably a dump question, but how do I enter characters which are
located on the 3rd shift layer (ALTGR, ALTCAR, or Right ALT) on
the German Extended keyboard layout under NDO 3.2A?

Specifically, I need to enter ´@´ (which is on ALTGR+Q on a
German keyboard) and ´\´ (ALTGR+ß/?). GEOS just beeps. I know
there are a few non-standard hotkeys, but I could not find any
such hotkey listed in Character Map for these keys, and the
ALT+NumPad input method does not work as well...
I temporarily switched to the US layout under GEOS (where
- no wonder - these keys are easily reachable), but obviously
this cannot be the solution.

I probably have overlooked something, but anyway, even if there
is some other hotkey for these keys, forcing people to use key
combinations other than those engraved on the keyboard will
preempt any success in many countries other than the US right
from the start. Keyboard layouts are national standards in most
countries (in Germany by DIN - Deutsches Institut für Normung),
and it is mandantory to use *exactly* these layouts in government
use... There may be /additional/ hotkeys (for example our K3PLUS
and FreeKEYB keyboard drivers have many additional layers of
special key and key combinations), but all the official defined
keys and key combinations must follow the standard with no
exception, otherwise the product simply cannot have any chance
for a success in non-English countries...

Which brings up my suggestion again to allow to use the DOS
keyboard driver under GEOS... I had a look at the GEOS keyboard
drivers under DEBUG and found out that they directly hardware
access... No problem for an embedded system, but very bad for
a desktop product... :-(
This combined with the fact that GEOS does not seem to have an
install check or interface to connect the DOS drivers with the
GEOS keyboard driver makes it pretty much incompatible with some
of the well-established rules in the DOS world, I´m afraid, and
this can cause all kinds of visible and potential problems.

Using direct hardware access, GEOS is incompatible with any
non-standard keyboard controller or keyboard controller
configuration, which would be handled by the DOS KEYB or
a vendor specific DOS keyboard driver. Because GEOS takes
over INT 9 as well, it causes problems with DOS screen savers,
and it will also impose serious risks to damage the disk
contents when pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL from within GEOS. Also,
it will not work on machines for which INT 9 is a software
rather than a hardware interrupt (like the PC Junior), just
to name another obscure design.
Like all well-behaving DOS programs, the GEOS keyboard driver
should either use "high-level" INT 16h (and thereby use the
keyboard layout provided by the DOS keyboard driver), or if
this is not sufficient for some reason, it could hook INT 15h/
AH=4Fh on AT class machines (and some XT class machines when
special software like our K3PLUS or FreeKEYB advanced keyboard
drivers are loaded). This will give exactly the same flexibility
as directly accessing port 60h and replacing INT 09h, but
it will solve the screen saver and reboot problems, and is
mostly hardware independent (at least in the way to access
the hardware, not in the returned scancodes). And, it
will continue to work with USB keyboards and on future
mainboards, which will no longer have a port 60h, as the
mainboard designers are slowly fading out the ISA architecture.
I predict in 2 - 5 years time, the GEOS keyboard driver will
no longer work on any brand-new mainboard, unless it will have
been changed to use INT 15h/4Fh instead... Only on XTs where
INT 15h/4Fh is not supported, DOS programs are allowed to
directly access port 60h from inside of INT 09h...

Oh well, and the Euro is missing as well. I can provide all the
necessary details where it is located in the various codepages
and keyboard layouts, if someone would want to go for it.
I think, would there ever be a new GEOS release after NDO2000,
full Euro support would be a must check list item as well.

Sorry, I hope I do not sound too discouraging, but if GEOS should
be any kind of success we must face and would have to address these
deficies very soon... No European magazine will bother to test
or report about an operating system or office suite which does
not support the Euro... I have made this experience with DR-DOS,
for which I added Euro support, but for some accidental reasons,
only parts of the support showed up in the released product...
Fortunately, all these issues would be easy to fix, but there
are many of them all over the system, it seems...

Greetings,

Matthias

--
<mailto:Matthi...@post.rwth-aachen.de>; <mailto:mp...@drdos.org>
http://www.uni-bonn.de/~uzs180/mpdokeng.html; http://mpaul.drdos.org


Thomas L. Christensen

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Mar 13, 2002, 7:22:08 AM3/13/02
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"Matthias Paul" <Matthi...@post.rwth-aachen.de> wrote:

>Hi,
>
>Probably a dump question, but how do I enter characters which are
>located on the 3rd shift layer (ALTGR, ALTCAR, or Right ALT) on
>the German Extended keyboard layout under NDO 3.2A?

I don't know the german keyboard, but maybe this page will help
you - http://www.newdealinc.com/support/hottips/1501.asp

Also note you can set right Alt key to function like Ctrl+Alt in
the Keyboard Preferences module.

--
Thomas L. Christensen - Svendborg, Denmark

Dominique Vocat

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Mar 13, 2002, 1:04:35 PM3/13/02
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Matthias Paul wrote:
>
> Hi,
>
> Probably a dump question, but how do I enter characters which are
> located on the 3rd shift layer (ALTGR, ALTCAR, or Right ALT) on
> the German Extended keyboard layout under NDO 3.2A?

preferences -> keaboyrd. select german keaboard and also mark the "left
alt is alt-gr" option.

hope this helps
Dom

Jens-Michael Gross

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Mar 13, 2002, 7:52:03 PM3/13/02
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Matthias Paul schrieb:

>
> Hi,
>
> Probably a dump question, but how do I enter characters which are
> located on the 3rd shift layer (ALTGR, ALTCAR, or Right ALT) on
> the German Extended keyboard layout under NDO 3.2A?

Hmmm, on 2.0 with a German extended keyboard and the German extended
keyboard driver, it is simply AltGr-Q or CTRL-ALT-Q (I just checked it).
In Preferences you can specify right Alt to be AltGr. But CTRL-Alt does
it too. Unless maybe an English keyboard driver in Windows is messing
things up.
My 2k runs on a machine without German keyboard :(

> Which brings up my suggestion again to allow to use the DOS
> keyboard driver under GEOS... I had a look at the GEOS keyboard
> drivers under DEBUG and found out that they directly hardware
> access... No problem for an embedded system, but very bad for
> a desktop product... :-(

Maybe there could be a 'native' keyboard driver that accesses DOS. I'm
not sure whether DOS access might affect multitasking, as the system
basically sleeps while DOS functions are performed.
YOu know, DOS calls are not reentrant. YOu have to wait for it to be
finished before you can call the next.
My guess is that for this reason Geoworks did as much direct hardware
support as possible (similar to the DOS compatibility mode for windows
drive access)

> This combined with the fact that GEOS does not seem to have an
> install check or interface to connect the DOS drivers with the
> GEOS keyboard driver makes it pretty much incompatible with some
> of the well-established rules in the DOS world, I´m afraid, and
> this can cause all kinds of visible and potential problems.

Almost never had some, except for DR-Dos with NWCDEX giving a DOS text
error message when there was no CD in the drive, waiting for a keystroke
through the DOS keyboard driver. But this was no normal condition and a
big incompatibility in NWCDEX (even if a 'device not ready' error is
more sane than the MSCDEX 'internal error' message which caused no
problems).

Anyway, there is a GUI keyboard driver for running NDO2k in an NT
window. A DOS compliant driver could be done too.
You want to do it?

I always noticed that every non-hardware access slows things down and
hinders multitasking.
GEOS tries to do everything the happens in the background on its own.
(serial/parallel I/O, mouse, keyboard, timers). Calling DOS for
everything would slow things down significantly. And would render the
preemptive multitasking useless.
We could as well go back to cooperative multitasking (as done in Windows
3.1 and in large parts of Win9x too) with all its drawbacks.

> Like all well-behaving DOS programs,

GEOS is not a DOS program. It is an OS that uses the DOS file system.
That's a big, Big, BIG difference.
Ever tried to run Win95 as a task under TaskMgr? No? Same situation.
Only that GEOS performs much, much better there.

> Oh well, and the Euro is missing as well.

Yes, that's a problem. But when I addressed this years ago, I'm told
that Americans don't care what we Europeans do and there are more
important things than a new currency symbol. Not in these words, but
with this attitude.

Anyway, tyhere are already some fonts available with the Euro symbol and
at the right place in the font map. And you can define your currency
cymbol in preferences. I'v already done it. The current keyboard mapping
is CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-4 or AltGr-Shift-4.
All I need are the default fonts having the symbol included. But an
outdated font isn't really an OS problem.
I could do new fonts, but the original license of the fonts wouldn't
allow the distribution.

> I can provide all the
> necessary details where it is located in the various codepages
> and keyboard layouts, if someone would want to go for it.
> I think, would there ever be a new GEOS release after NDO2000,
> full Euro support would be a must check list item as well.

Here I agree. And the most difficult to implement, as it is 99% a font
problem and nothing a programmer could solve with the source code.

> No European magazine will bother to test
> or report about an operating system or office suite which does
> not support the Euro...

Definitely.


Grossibaer

Matthias Paul

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Mar 14, 2002, 9:57:29 AM3/14/02
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On 2002-03-13, Dominique Vocat wrote:

> > Probably a dump question, but how do I enter characters which are
> > located on the 3rd shift layer (ALTGR, ALTCAR, or Right ALT) on
> > the German Extended keyboard layout under NDO 3.2A?
>
> preferences -> keaboyrd. select german keaboard and also mark the "left
> alt is alt-gr" option.

Thanks, Thomas and Dominique. I checked that option and it works now.

Greetings,

Matthias

PS. I only wonder why my mailer inserted my original post
in a thread "NewCalc and undo" from 2001-04-28, almost
a year old, but anyway...

Matthias Paul

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Mar 15, 2002, 12:04:09 PM3/15/02
to
On 2002-03-14, Jens-Michael Gross wrote:

Thanks, Jens, to you as well, the Ctrl+Alt checkbox item works now.

> Maybe there could be a 'native' keyboard driver that accesses DOS.
> I'm not sure whether DOS access might affect multitasking, as the
> system basically sleeps while DOS functions are performed.
> YOu know, DOS calls are not reentrant. YOu have to wait for it to
> be finished before you can call the next.

While many DOS programs play around with them, INT 09h, INT 16h,
and INT 15h/AH=4Fh are still BIOS interrupts, originally.

INT 16h provides functions to check if a keystroke in pending
and return immediately, if it is not. INT 15h/AH=4Fh is called
by the INT 09h handler, which in turn is called on scancodes
arriving in the keyboard controller on the mainboard. Usually
it is a hardware interrupt, but on some rare machines (like the
PC Junior) it is a software interrupt. INT 15h/AH=4Fh is always
a software interrupt. So, hooking INT 15h/AH=4Fh and monitoring/
filtering key strokes there will have no impact on the multi-
tasking, but it will ensure, that GEOS does not need to directly
program the hardware. Developing advanced keyboard drivers for
much more than a decade now, I can tell, that what looks so simple
in programmer´s books and is in most cases plainly wrong or
at least totally outdated and only valid for the original PC,
unfortunately, is far more complicated than it seems.
Doing it the wrong way can cause all kind of strange effects,
from system locks, reboot problems, no key presses at all, wrong
keys, random dropped-in ghost keystrokes, sticky keys, suppressed
key strokes, up to mouse and display problems. A multitude of
different keyboards types, layouts, keyboard ports/controllers,
and scan code sets exist, and most keyboard drivers I have seen
do not work on all machines and in all configurations (not even
the MS-DOS KEYB one, even our FreeKEYB cannot handle them all).
So, it very much makes sense for GEOS to leave the extremely
hardware-dependent part to the DOS keyboard driver, which happens
to be designed for this very purpose.

>> This combined with the fact that GEOS does not seem to have an
>> install check or interface to connect the DOS drivers with the
>> GEOS keyboard driver makes it pretty much incompatible with some
>> of the well-established rules in the DOS world, I´m afraid, and
>> this can cause all kinds of visible and potential problems.

I forgot to mention potential disk corruption problems when the
NetWare Lite or Personal NetWare server is loaded on an XT or 286
(not on a 386+), and you press CTRL+ALT+DEL under GEOS.

> Almost never had some, except for DR-Dos with NWCDEX giving a
> DOS text error message when there was no CD in the drive, waiting
> for a keystroke through the DOS keyboard driver. But this was no
> normal condition and a big incompatibility in NWCDEX (even if a
> 'device not ready' error is more sane than the MSCDEX 'internal
> error' message which caused no problems).

I think this problem was fixed with one of the NWCDEX updates
at Caldera. Have you tried the DR-DOS 7.03 issue already?
If it is not fixed, please tell me all the details so I can
fix it.

> Anyway, there is a GUI keyboard driver for running NDO2k in
> an NT window. A DOS compliant driver could be done too.
> You want to do it?

Why not, I could certainly do it - and many other things... ;-)

And I already mentioned that I would be willing to add special
hooks into FreeKEYB, our much advanced DOS keyboard driver,
would it prove to improve the usability under GEOS (and I think
it would, as FreeKEYB provides many features not found in other
keyboard drivers, including those shipping with GEOS).
Due to our sophisticated new Dynamic Dead Code Elimination
technology which removes at byte level any code snippets unused
in a particular given driver, user, or system configuration and
hardware environment when the driver´s installer builds and
relocates the load image of itself, this would have no memory
impact for non-GEOS users at all, so there´s not much to worry
about (memory footprint etc.) as in traditionally coded DOS drivers.

However, it also depends on what the future status of GEOS will be:

I won´t program for a dead OS, which is (b)locked out from any
possible progress by some copyright owners which, while the ship
is sinking, try to sit out a situation instead of trying hard to
come together to a common sense and move to whereever there is
a little light on the horizon.
At least I won´t as long as I do not have access to the source
code. The problem is that this way it could always be only
masquarading and patching around from the outside, but nothing
to deliver actual solutions to people...

Ignoring these licensing struggles for a moment and continuing
to propose this idea, let GEOS be open sourced, and you can count
me in most definitely. ;-)

Otherwise I´m of course available for consulting services as
well as research and most any type of contract work in the
soft- and hardware area, and depending on the amount of work
and circumstances, I may consider programming some enhancements
and components for free just for fun or to fix some of the
bugs that "bug" me personally, but it would have to be a mixed
calculation than... It´s not that I wouldn´t have more than
enough other interesting projects in the DOS, Unix and other
areas... ;-)

Well, sooner or later we´ll see what BreadBox has in mind...
Let´s hope, they can move forward...

>> Like all well-behaving DOS programs,
>
> GEOS is not a DOS program. It is an OS that uses the DOS file system.
> That's a big, Big, BIG difference.

I know what you mean, but be GEOS an operating system in itself,
it /is/ still a DOS program at the same time (and at the moment
not even an Extended DOS application), and thus should conform
to the rules so that /it/ can take maximum benefit from the host
environment without suffering from compatibility problems, and
also to allow easy coexistance or even seemless integration with
other DOS applications, in particular in a multitasking environment.
I think there is a great potential for a platform which is real
fun to work with...

> Ever tried to run Win95 as a task under TaskMgr? No? Same situation.

Umm, yes, almost. ;-) Windows 4.xx is not that different from
Windows 3.xx in this respect. But, sorry, I cannot discuss
this in public...

>> Oh well, and the Euro is missing as well.
>
> Yes, that's a problem. But when I addressed this years ago, I'm told
> that Americans don't care what we Europeans do and there are more
> important things than a new currency symbol. Not in these words, but
> with this attitude.

Does not look very good for companies with "Geo" or "Global" in
their names or a planet as their logo... If that´s true, they
haven´t got /the/ message of the 90th at all.

Of course there is some overhead addressing an international market,
but only around 30% of the world speaks English (not necessarily
American English), and not counting in the current depression -
which IMO is a global phenomenon -, Europe is at least a strong
market as North-America is. However, Europe and in particular
Eastern Europe is a growing market with incredible future potentials
and chances, while the American market is already very saturated
in almost any flavour. So, ignoring Europe is a management mistake
"par excellence", in particular, because it is relatively easy
to develop locale versions for the European market.

Even the specific needs of the people in the Middle East (with
non-Latin alphabets and writing direction from right to the left)
are relatively easy to address, while developing products for
the Far East market is much more complicated because of their
completely different writing and representation systems, and
also the many cultural differences, which should have an influence
on the product design if it should be a successful product.

> Anyway, tyhere are already some fonts available with the Euro symbol
> and at the right place in the font map. And you can define your
> currency cymbol in preferences. I'v already done it.

I have set this to "EUR" for now.

Which brings up another wishlist item:

I would like to have for (almost) any individual GEOS NLS entry
a Preferences checkbox, where I could select if I want to use
the freely definable but static internal GEOS setting, or if
the system should ask the underlaying DOS for the info.
And I would want to have individual buttons (and a master button)
which could be pressed to import DOS´ current NLS settings into
GEOS´. This does not apply to all GEOS settings, because DOS
does not provide NLS data for all of them, but for those where it
does, there should be a way to import the data without having to
edit all this manually. I am often using different country and
codepage settings and languages (there are multi-language issues
of MS-DOS and DR-DOS which can switch languages almost instantous),
and it would be great if GEOS would semi-automatically adapt to
whatever the current settings are). Easy stuff.
Also there´s much more NLS stuff to add to DOS and GEOS...

> The current keyboard mapping is CTRL-ALT-SHIFT-4 or AltGr-Shift-4.

On the German layout the hotkey is ALTGR+E or CTRL+ALT+E, in
FreeKEYB we have the Euro symbol in ALTGR+E and use SHIFT+ALTGR+E
for a Euro currency macro (CTRL+ALT can be used to emulate ALTGR
on older keyboards). But the hotkeys differ between the various
keyboard layouts, well, I have tables for all old and modern
keyboard layouts here, in case BreadBox would would to add
this to GEOS...

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