Re: Whatever happened to the Secondary Selection?


I read the textual description, mostly because after 20 years of using
X11 I've never even seen an implementation of the SECONDARY selection
protocol outside of Motif applications. GTK+ itself does not implement
anything with the 'SECONDARY' atom, unlike the 'PRIMARY' one —
unfortunately, if I may add.

The GTK+ team is pretty much following the behaviour set out by the clipboard specification:

which was written down in 2000-ish and has been the de facto standard
for the free software desktop since then.

Again: I think it's perfectly fine to let applications take care of
this, especially on X11. The whole PRIMARY/SECONDARY shenanigans are
pretty much the definition of unportable X11 behaviour anyway — i.e.
the Windows and macOS backends do not have any support for
PRIMARY/SECONDARY selections, even if they are part of the available
atoms in GDK, and Wayland had to get an additional protocol extension
to implement PRIMARY behaviour — again, unfortunately.


On 21 August 2016 at 12:07, Paul Davis <paul linuxaudiosystems com> wrote:

did you watch his video?

On Sun, Aug 21, 2016 at 3:07 AM, Emmanuele Bassi <ebassi gmail com> wrote:


thanks for your email.

GTK+, as a project, tracks bugs and enhancements in Bugzilla - - instead of the
mailing list, which is only meant for discussion.

Additionally, the latest stable version of GTK+ is 3.20, and we plan to
release GTK+ 3.22 by next month.

We still (optionally) support the PRIMARY selection on the X11 backend,
and some compatibility layer for it on Wayland, but we have no plans on
adding support for the SECONDARY selection, as it's both barely specified
and, like the PRIMARY, highly confusing for anybody who is not well-versed
in 20+ years of use of textual interfaces on the X Windows System.
Personally, I would have jettisoned the PRIMARY selection a long time ago as
well, but apparently a very vocal minority is still holding tight to that
particular Easter egg. Adding support for the even more esoteric SECONDARY
selection on the X11 backend when we're trying to move the Linux world
towards the more modern and less legacy-ridden Wayland display system would
be problematic to say the least, and an ill fit for the majority of
graphical user experiences in use these days.

It should be entirely possible to add support for the SECONDARY selection
inside specific applications, like text editors; or in specific libraries,
like VTE for terminal emulators. It would definitely make more sense than
trying to apply it to all text entry widgets in GTK+.


On Saturday, 20 August 2016, Charles Lindsey <chl clerew man ac uk> wrote:

For over 20 years, I have been using the secondary-selection (a standard
feature of the X-Windows system) when editing texts, using the Solaris
operating system on Sun Hardware. Recently, I have switched to Linux on i86
hardware, and have been horrified to find that this valuable feature is not
supported by modern toolkits and editors. The world seems to have forgotten
what it was meant for, and yet I believe it is the best thing since sliced

This is not the place to explain what the secondary-selection does, and
why it should be used more widely. To see that, I invite you to visit my
website at
which I hope will persuade you that something needs to be done about it.

Furthermore, to illustrate how it is used, I have implemented an
Experimental Extension to GTK-3 so that people can try it out for themselves
and to see how useful it can be for constructing texts (and particularly
program texts, where there is a common requirement to grab existing bits of
code - perhaps even just identifiers - from other places, whether in the
same document or from outside).

My implementation is based on gtk+-3.10.8, because I am using Ubuntu
14.04LTS "Trusty Tahr", though it may well work on other Linux versions. Yes
I know 3.10.8 is ancient, but I don't expect my code, which is pretty hairy,
to be fit for immediate incorporation in current versions of gtk. But it now
works well enough for it to be tested more widely, and if people like it,
then I would be happy to join the Developer Team and to do the job properly.

So I invite you guys to look at my website, download my code and give it
a try. I am also making this known on various other lists, because unless
people try it out (and hopefully like it), there can be no pressure to take
it further.

Share and Enjoy!

Charles H. Lindsey ---------At Home, doing my own
Tel: +44 161 436 6131                         Web:
Email: chl clerew man ac uk      Snail: 5  SK8 3JU, U.K.
PGP: 2C15F1A9      Fingerprint: 73 6D C2 51 93 A0 01 E7 65 E8 64 7E 14 A4
gtk-devel-list mailing list
gtk-devel-list gnome org

[@] ebassi []

gtk-devel-list mailing list
gtk-devel-list gnome org

[@] ebassi []

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]