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Man Pages

Manual Reference Pages  -  DECO (1)


deco - visual shell for UNIX




deco [directory]


DECO, or Demos Commander, is a visual interface for the UNIX operating system, developed by the motives of the widely known Norton Commander.

Control characters are designated below as ^X, which means: CTRL+X. The "~" in file names means "home directory".

Functional Keys

DECO is adjusted to the type of terminal by means of the termcap terminal description file. While in operation, DECO uses 10 functional keys F1-F10. To determine the keys,
f0...f9 for F10, F1...F9 keys
kl, kr, ku, kd for left, right, up, down arrow keys respectively
kh, kH, kP, kN for home screen, screen end, page up, page down, respectively
kI insert mode
kD delete character
For terminals without an additional keyboard, it is possible to enter commands by control characters or <Esc> X sequence.

Here is the Commands Table:

 Command Key                     Alternative
 (PC key)        VT-220          input
 F1              -1-             ESC 1
 F2              -2-             ESC 2
 F3              -3-             ESC 3
 F4              -4-             ESC 4
 F5              -5-             ESC 5
 F6              -6-             ESC 6
 F7              -7-             ESC 7
 F8              -8-             ESC 8
 F9              -9-             ESC 9
 F10             -0-             ESC 0
 arrow up        up              ESC u
 arrow down      down            ESC d
 arrow left      left            ESC l
 arrow right     right           ESC r
 Home            Home            ESC h
 End             End             ESC e
 PgUp            PrevPage        ESC p
 PgDn            NextPage        ESC n
 Ins             Ins             ^T
 Del             Del             ^G

Note that for some devices (for example, PC AT console) F1-F10 keys are used, while for others - keys 1-9, 0 of the additional keyboard.

Command Canceling and Exit from Deco

In any state of DECO, press F10 to reset and cancel the current menu. If DECO is in the usual mode (system command input), F10 calls for an exit from the DECO menu:

 Do you want to exit from DECO commander?
 Yes No Shell

Yes (exit), No (no exit), and Shell (run csh) should be selected by the arrow keys and the RETURN key (ENTER for IBM PC). If Shell is selected, you have to input the exit command in order to return to DECO.

Getting Help

F1 provides you with a built-in help message. Press F10 to return to DECO.

Deco Windows and Operation Modes

Usually, DECO shows two panels (right and left ones), two directories are displayed there. One of these panels is the current one, where all the operations take place (the name of this panel is printed in italics). The second panel is used to point out the place to copy, move or link files, as well as to present information about the current directory (see the ^L command). The TAB command (Tab or ^I key) serves as a fast way to select another panel as the current one, the key ^U is used to swap panels on the screen.

System commands are executed from DECO in the same manner, as from the usual interpreter sh or csh (see below, Running UNIX Commands). DECO calls for the csh interpreter to execute commands. The single restriction is that SHELL is restarted each time, so variable values, aliases, jobs, etc. are not memorized. Initially, DECO is set to the screen mode, where panels, status line (in the upper part of the screen, which includes the names of machine, user, terminal and current time), and hint line (in the lower part of the screen) are displayed. In this mode, all DECO commands are executed (F1 - F10 and others). After a DECO command is over, DECO remains in the command input mode. No panels and prompts are displayed in this mode (for faster operation). In this mode, only system commands are executed, as well as some DECO commands, such as ^B (operation with History commands journal). Once an empty command (Return) is entered, DECO returns to the screen mode, and panels are displayed. In some cases, DECO can move to the screen mode without highlighting the panels (for example, calling for History from the non-screen mode). During operations with different menus, DECO moves to the menu mode. In this case, the commands listed in the menu are executed, arrows move the cursor along the menu, F10 means always "Cancel the MENU mode".

Executing Unix Commands

DECO is usually set to the screen mode when you can use arrows to travel across the directory and select files, as well as form a command line by entering characters. You can add the names of the current and selected files to the end of the command line by the LineFeed or ^J commands. Using ^E and ^X commands, it is possible to move along the History, i.e. to "recall" previously executed commands. To erase the command line, use the ^Y command.

System commands executed are memorized in the History. You can call for History from the DECO main menu, as well as by the ^B command. In History, arrows move the cursor along the commands, the ^J command serves to insert the current file name into the command line, Return - to insert the current file name and execute the command.

The EDIT mode serves to correct the command line. This mode is characterized by the fact that a directory name is not italicized in DECO panels. The ^P command turns this mode on and off. In EDIT, arrows move the cursor along the command line and across History. Commands Del or ^G delete characters under the cursor.

Command ^V serves for quoting non-printable characters. Next symbol, following this command, will be inserted into command line.

File Types

DECO differs regular, special files and directories. Type of file is marked to the left of file name by character tag. There are following file tags:
space regular file
* executable file
/ directory
& inaccessible directory
$ character device
# block device
= FIFO file
~ symbolic link
@ inaccessible symbolic link
! named socket

Handling Selected Files

Selected files are used to set filenames for commands. Only regular files can be selected. To select the files (and to cancel the selection), the following commands can be used:
Ins or ^T Toggle selection of current file
+ Select group of files according to the pattern
- Unselect group of files according to the pattern
If there are no selected files, the current file is used in the command.

Entering Menu

F9 brings you to the MENU mode. To execute the command, select the desired command and press Return.

The menu’s structure is given below. Many commands can be called for without panel mode, the corresponding keys are given in the right column:

 Left /
         Status                  ^L
         Align extensions
         Sort by name
         Sort by type
         Re-read                 ^R
 Files /
         Help                    F1
         User menu               F2
         View                    F3
         Edit                    F4
         Copy                    F5
         Rename/move             F6
         Make directory          F7
         Delete                  F8
         Select group            +
         Unselect group          -
         Quit                    F10
 Commands /
         Run subshell
         Compare directories
         Find file               ^K
         History                 ^B
         Home directory          ^\
         Root directory          ^_
         Redraw screen           ^]
         Menu file edit
         Extensions file edit
 Options /
         Switch panels           ^I
         Swap panels             ^U
         Full screen             ^F
         Double width            ^W
         Command line mode       ^P
         Show hidden files
         Save setup
 Right /
         Status                  ^L
         Align extensions
         Sort by name
         Sort by type
         Re-read                 ^R

Commands from the menu are described in detail below.

Customizing Panels

LEFT and RIGHT sections are used to alter states of the left and right panels, respectively. The commands Brief, Long, Full set different levels of detailization of information about files. The command Status turns the status panel on and off, this panel is situated in the opposite panel. Command Align extensions switches mode of flushing file name extensions to the right margin.

The next group of commands manages sorting of file names inside window. Files are sorted by type (directory, block device, etc.) and inside each type - by some parameter (name, extension, size, modification time). Commands Sort by name, Extension, Time, Size choose mode of sorting by parameter. Command Unsorted turns off parameter sorting mode. Command Sort by type turns off sorting by file type. Command Reverse sets reverse sorting mode.

The command Re-read re-reads the directory. The command Pattern sets a pattern of "visible" filenames. The pattern is set according to the usual UNIX rules of handling filenames: ? means "any symbol", * means "any number of any symbols", [symbols] - "any of these symbols", ^ in the first position - "every file not matching the pattern". See ‘File Patterns’ for more detail. For example, the pattern "^*.[bo]" means "not to show object and backup files".

Handling Files

The FILES section is intended for operating files. Most commands of this section are placed on the functional keyboard. Copy, link, and move commands use another panel to show the place to copy, move or link files to by default.
Help - F1 Get help.
User menu - F2 Enter user-defined menu.
View - F3 View the contents of the current file. The built-in facility is used by default. Using the command Options/Viewer, you can set the name of an external utility, e.g., ‘‘more’’. The command ‘Options/Save setup’ saves the set-up.
Edit - F4 Edit the current file. The built-in editor is used by default. Using the Options/Editor command, you can set the name of an external editor, e.g., ‘‘vi’’, and, by means of the command Options/Save, you can store it for future recalling.
Copy - F5 Copy the current or selected files.
Rename/move - F6 Move the files or the directory.
Make directory - F7 Create a new directory.
Delete - F8 Delete the files or the directory.
Link Make a reference to the file.
Symlink Make a symbolic reference to the file.
Select group - + Select group of files.
Unselect group - - Unselect group of files.

Other Commands

The Commands section includes various commands:
Run subshell Temporary exit into system shell (cshell). The exit command returns you to DECO.
Compare directories Compare the left and right directories. Files, which are different, are selected.
Find file Place the cursor onto the file by its name.
History Enter the command history menu. Select the command and press Return or ^M to execute it. Pressing LineFeed or ^J, you can insert the command into the command line and re-edit it.
Home directory Return to the home directory.
Root directory Return to the root directory (/).
Redraw screen Redraw the screen.
Menu file edit Edit user menu file.
Extensions file edit Edit extension file.

Adjusting Modes

The Options section serves to set and save DECO operation modes:
Switch panels Move to the opposite panel.
Swap panels Swap panels on the screen
Full screen Adjust the panels’ height to the full-screen size
Double width Adjust the panels’ width to the full-screen size
Command line mode Switch the command line editing mode on and off. In this mode, the arrows move only along the command line.
Show hidden files Hide files, whose names begin with dot.
Viewer Sets an external viewer utility to go through the files
Editor Sets a new external editor utility
Shell Choose one of system command interpreters, /bin/sh or /bin/csh.
Save setup Saves the settings in the file ~/.decoini. When DECO is started up, the files ~/.decoini, or /usr/local/lib/deco/initfile, or /usr/lib/deco/initfile are read.

Built-in Commands

chdir Go to home directory.
cd dirname
chdir dirname Go to specified directory.
set name value
setenv name value Set value of global variable.
unset name
unsetenv name Delete global variable.
printenv Print list of global variables.
pwd Print current directory name.
exit Exit from DECO.

Built-in Editor Commands

The following commands are available in the built-in editor:
Arrows Move cursor through the file.
Printable characters Insert characters into the text.
Del Delete the character under the cursor.
BackSpace Delete the character to the left of the cursor.
^Y Delete the current line.
^K Delete the text starting from the cursor till the end of line.
Save - F2 Save the file.
Raw - F3 Switch the displaying characters with codes greater than 127.
Top - F5 Go to the beginning of the file.
Bottom - F6 Go to the end of the file.
Search - F7 Text/binary search.
Home - F8 Go to the beginning of the screen.
Spaces - F9 Switch on/off the space and tabulation displaying mode. Spaces are designated by dim points, and tabulations - by dim underlines.
Quit - F10 Exit the editor.

User Menus

DECO has a possibility to create menus defined by the user. The Command F2 reads the file .menu, which includes the description of the menu. If the file .menu is not found, the file ~/.menu, or /usr/local/lib/deco/menu, or /usr/lib/deco/menu is being read. The menu description file has the following structure:

 # Comments

<character> <description of command>                 <command>

<character> <description of command>                 <command> . . .

The character is either a Roman letter, or a digit, or a name of the functional keys F1- F10. If you press the key, a command of the menu is executed. The command may include macros like %X which are replaced in the following way:

 %f     name of current file
 %b     name of current file without extension
 %t     list of selected files
 %d     name of current catalogue
 %c     full name of current catalogue
 %h     full name of home catalogue
 %u     name of user
 %g     name of group of users
 %%     symbol ’%’

Command can begin with the following control symbols:
- Remain in the panel mode after execution.
@ Don’t append this command to command history.
! Interpret command string as file name and read user menu from this file. Using this feature you can implement submenus.
Here is an example of the user menu file:

 F1     Main menu
 F2     Default menu
 w      Count lines of source code
        wc *.h *.c
 b      Remove bak files
        -@rm -f *.b *.b
 d      Show my processes
        ps -fu %u
 s      Synchronize disks

Executing Files

If the command line is empty when Return or ^M is pressed in the panel mode, and the current file is the directory, DECO moves to this directory. If the current file is an executable one, it is executed. If the current file is a usual regular one, then the command that corresponds its name is executed. The command is described in the file ~/.deco. This allows the user to fulfill operations for each file, which depend on the name of this file, e.g., to start the C compiler for the files named *.c, to start the make utility for the file Makefile, etc.

If the file ~/.deco is not found, file /usr/local/lib/deco/profile, or /usr/lib/deco/profile is being read.

The file, in which operations are described by name, has the following structure:

 # Comments

<pattern 1> <pattern 2>...<pattern N>         <command>

<pattern 1> <pattern 2>...<pattern N>         <command> . . .

The command can include macros (see User’s menu).

An example of the file ~/.deco:

 .menu .deco .cshrc .login *.c *.h
       re %f
       rm %f
 Makefile makefile *.mk
       make -f %f
       nm %f | more
       ar tv %f | more

File name patterns

Patterns of filenames can include the following metasymbols:
* Arbitrary symbol sequence. It can be empty.
? Arbitrary symbol.
[abcx-y] Arbitrary symbol from the selected set.
[^abcx-y] Arbitrary symbol outside the set.
^ If placed at the beginning of pattern, this metasymbol negates the meaning of pattern.


Files of modes and initial settings.
Menu description files.
Files for describing of operations by name.


If the screen display is distorted, you can restore it by the command ^].


csh (1), termcap (5)

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