Re: How to change the length of "\t"?

James Kanze <>
Wed, 16 Jul 2008 10:31:22 -0700 (PDT)
On Jul 16, 2:47 pm, (Pascal J. Bourguignon)

James Kanze <> writes:

If they did try to make it 4... Trying to change such an
established standard is almost as dumb as another systems
attempt to change the de facto standard for line endings
(which is, of course, CR,LF).

He he. Everybody knows it's just CR. Nobody'd be fool enough
to use anything but a Mac.

:-). Everyone except ASCII, of course.

Actually, there were two widespread practices before Unix:
CR,LF, and LF,CR. According to ASCII, both should give the same
results. (I've never tried LF,CR on either Unix or Windows,

They would give the same result on a glass tty, but not on a
normal teletype. There, if you send LF, and then CR, the
first characters of the following lines would be printed in
the middle of th eline, because CR takes more time to move the
carriage from the right side to the left side, than LF takes
time to move up the paper.

You mean less time, I think.

That's why you should always use CR-LF, and not LF-CR, and
when you're on a unix system, convert LF to CR-LF, and when
you are on a MacOS system, convert CR to CR-LF.

And have a similar problem with some other printer, which works
differently. It was long known that with some hardware, you
needed to output padding characters after certain functionality,
in order to ensure that it finished; CR was one of these on a
teletype. (Of course, the reason CR before LF came to be
prefered was because the LF counted as one of those padding
characters on a teletype. So you gained a character. At, what
was it, 120 baud, that made a difference.)

Since there's no hope of ever convincing *nix folks to give
up the stupid 8 positions per tab stop convention, and
adopt the much more rational 4. <g>

It's not really a question of Unix. The convention was too
well established even before Unix came along for it to be
possible to change it.

The best thing to do is to ban the TAB control code in your
text files. Always use spaces to indent or align columns. Any
good editor (eg. emacs) will have an option to do so.

That's what I've been saying, and it seems to be the one point
everyone agrees with. (And of course, not only emacs, but vim
and the Visual Studios program editor, to name two others,
support this.)

James Kanze (GABI Software)
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