chat - Chat mode


chat [ -r rings ] [ -t ] [-v volume ]


Chat lets a caller and the system operator carry on conversation in real time. Upon invoking chat, an audible signal (much like a telephone) rings on the host computer. If the operator is available, the chat request is serviced, placing the user and the operator into a chat mode. If the operator is not available, the user is given the chance to send an electronic mail letter instead.

Depending on the type of terminal the user emulates, one of two chat modes may be invoked. Both modes offer word wrap and limited text editing.

With terminal emulation, a split-screen mode is activated. The user and operator have their own windows in which to type messages unencumbered by the other’s input. In fact, each may type at the same time without interrupting the other. Typing Control-L redraws the entire screen. Typing Control-X clears the user’s or operator’s assigned window. Pressing the Escape key exits the chat program.

If no terminal emulation is set up, a regular chat loop is activated. In this mode, the user and operator must take turns entering lines of text so as not to “step on” one another. Standard chat protocol in this method involves pressing RETURN enough times to put at least one blank line after a typed message is completed. This signals the other user that a response is expected. Entering a period alone on a new line exits the chat program.

The options are:

-r N

Rings (default = 6), where N is the number of “phone rings” that sound before chat gives up.


TTY mode (no split-screen emulation), even if adequate emulation is enabled.

-v N

Volume level (default = 7), where N is a number from 0 (quiet) to 15 (loudest) which controls the loudness of the ringing signal at the console. Only the super user may specify this option.

Operator’s Note

To regulate chatting times, hooking up a joystick or game paddle to the computer provides an “availability switch”. Moved to the left, chatting is disabled (you have “left”). Moved to the right, chatting is enabled (you are “right” there).