Advanced Features

Advanced Features

Pseudo terminals have some additional capabilities that we briefly mention here. These capabilities are further documented in Sun Microsystems [2002] and the BSD pty(4) manual page.

Packet Mode

Packet mode lets the PTY master learn of state changes in the PTY slave. On Solaris, this mode is enabled by pushing the STREAMS module pckt onto the PTY master side. We showed this optional module in Figure. On FreeBSD, Linux, and Mac OS X, this mode is enabled with the TIOCPKT ioctl command.

The details of packet mode differ between Solaris and the other platforms. Under Solaris, the process reading the PTY master has to call getmsg to fetch the messages from the stream head, because the pckt module converts certain events into nondata STREAMS messages. With the other platforms, each read from the PTY master returns a status byte followed by optional data.

Regardless of the implementation details, the purpose of packet mode is to inform the process reading the PTY master when the following events occur at the line discipline module above the PTY slave: when the read queue is flushed, when the write queue is flushed, whenever output is stopped (e.g., Control-S), whenever output is restarted, whenever XON/XOFF flow control is enabled after being disabled, and whenever XON/XOFF flow control is disabled after being enabled. These events are used, for example, by the rlogin client and rlogind server.

Remote Mode

A PTY master can set the PTY slave into remote mode by issuing an ioctl of TIOCREMOTE. Although FreeBSD 5.2.1, Mac OS X 10.3, and Solaris 9 use the same command to enable and disable this feature, under Solaris the third argument to ioctl is an integer, whereas with FreeBSD and Mac OS X, it is a pointer to an integer. (Linux 2.4.22 doesn't support this command.)

When it sets this mode, the PTY master is telling the PTY slave's line discipline module not to perform any processing of the data that it receives from the PTY master, regardless of the canonical/noncanonical flag in the slave's termios structure. Remote mode is intended for an application, such as a window manager, that does its own line editing.

Window Size Changes

The process above the PTY master can issue the ioctl of TIOCSWINSZ to set the window size of the slave. If the new size differs from the current size, a SIGWINCH signal is sent to the foreground process group of the PTY slave.

Signal Generation

The process reading and writing the PTY master can send signals to the process group of the PTY slave. Under Solaris 9, this is done with an ioctl of TIOCSIGNAL, with the third argument set to the signal number. With FreeBSD 5.2.1 and Mac OS X 10.3, the ioctl is TIOCSIG, and the third argument is a pointer to the integer signal number. (Linux 2.4.22 doesn't support this ioctl command either.)

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