Thursday, April 21, 2011

VT100 in your browser

This is pretty cool. I was searching for this and guess what? It's possible to bring together an unholy marriage between the browser and the command line interface. It's actually so uncool that it's cool.

And it works pretty well too...

There's a VT100 emulator written in javascript (shellinabox), that is fairly well developed. There's even an implementation you can play with just to kick the tires a bit so to speak. It's even well developed enough that it seems completely usable with some limitations. Performance ain't too bad either. The primary limitation is obviously the delay in the request/response (or latency).

This implementation works by running a parallel shell process on the server and sending keystroke by keystroke back to the server for interpretation. There's some performance penalty with this approach, but it does promise to be a faithful representation of a linux cli session.

On the other hand I've had a chance to subvert this library even more by wiring it up to the Vyatta REST API--the nice thing about this is that commands can be sent when completed (thereby avoiding the keystoke by keystroke roundtrip). And guess what? It works pretty well too. Very nicely.

Now with this your imagination can run wild with the possibilities....

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