[Annoyances] X-Windows Copy & Paste

Waldo Bastian bastian at kde.org
Tue Aug 19 13:09:33 EEST 2003

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On Tuesday 19 August 2003 10:55, John Meacham wrote:
> It occurs to me that since xterm does not allow modification of the text
> being selected, there is no point in not setting CLIPBOARD on selection.
> since the point of setting CLIPBOARD independently of PRIMARY is to
> allow replacement of the selected text with a paste from another app.
> i.e. no functionality is lost, but we gain the ability to paste X
> selections into apps with explicit paste commands.

In KDE we found that any interaction between CLIPBOARD and PRIMARY is 
considered highly confusing by our users. The models of neither CLIPBOARD nor 
PRIMARY provide any feedback to the user about what is going on, so the only 
thing that the user has to go on is his(m/f) own mental visualization. For 
that reason it is very important IMO to keep these models as simple as 
possible, and a separate as possible. The user wouldn't KNOW that selecting 
in xterm sets both CLIPBOARD and PRIMARY, he would need to deduct this from 
using the feature and he might very well come up with a model about how this 
all works that is actually quite different from how it actually works. 

Keep also in mind that this isn't about xterm alone, other applications also 
support the concepts of PRIMARY and CLIPBOARD and users tend to build their 
mental picture about how it works based upon their experience with a variety 
of applications and then apply this mental picture to all applications. How 
xterm behaves shapes their expectations about other applications and vice 

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