TIP 561: Add console Command to Unix

    Author:         Eric Taylor <[email protected]>
    State:          Draft
    Type:           Project
    Vote:           Pending
    Created:        23-Jan-2020
    Tcl-Version:    9.1
    Keywords:       Tk
    Tk-Branch:      tip-561


This TIP proposes that the console command be made an official supported command for Linux and other Unix platforms (hereafter called unix). A console can currently be run under unix, but it requires some additional code. This TIP proposes that official support be given for the console command on unix and that the code to do so become part of the Tcl/Tk core.

Rationale and Discussion

In the Tcl'ers Wiki, there is a submitted code block that can be used on unix that will add the console command and text window to a Tcl/Tk program. This works quite well, and has been available since 2005. However, it is not automatically supported "out of the box" and one has to do a few things to get the code and run it. It would be very handy if one could open a console on unix directly in the same way as on the other console command aware systems.

There is one caveat mentioned in the wiki code. In particular, it makes use of some undocumented internals and could thus break in a future release. Since this code works so well, it seems that it should become a supported core feature on unix.

This TIP would eliminate an existing incompatibility between platforms, and should also protect this console code from breakage in future releases.


The console command would become a supported command in the core on all Tk-enabled systems. The above mentioned wiki code (with a bit extra as shown below) would be stored along with the other pure Tcl/Tk code (possibly in tklib) and used in the unix platform.

No special setup would be required to use the console command. However, until the console command is executed at least once, stdout and stderr would continue to go to the terminal window where wish was invoked. This would retain the current behavior. Only after executing a console command (e.g. console show) would stdout and stderr be redirected to a new console text window.


Currently in unix, output for stdout and stderr goes to the terminal window where the program was run. After the above mentioned code is sourced, output to stdout and stderr are redirected to a new toplevel window. In order to remain compatible with existing behavior, the initial setup of a unix console needs to be delayed until the user first issues, at least one, console command, such as console show or console hide.

Some consideration may need to be given if the user redirected output either by a shell command or in an exec command and also includes a console statement.


The following has been tested on a pop-os linux system by sourcing the below code. A small change to the current wiki code is needed to keep compatibility with the existing unix stdout and stderr behavior.

set ::tk::console_on_unix {
    <include wiki code here with the one extra statement below at the end>

    set ::tk::console_on_unix_begin 1 ;# extra statement to continue after vwait
proc console {args} { ;# initial one time use definition of console
    rename console {} ;# delete this definition of console now
    after 0 {eval $::tk::console_on_unix ; unset -nocomplain ::tk::console_on_unix}
    vwait ::tk::console_on_unix_begin ;# wait till setup complete
    unset -nocomplain ::tk::console_on_unix_begin
    tailcall console {*}$args ;# call the new console command with current args

This code would need to be executed at startup automatically on a unix system. It provides the initial definition of console that would, when once called, complete the remaining setup, remove itself, and call the new console definition with the current arguments.

This method will retain the current stdout and stderr behavior until at least one console statement is executed. So, if the user were to issue a console show command, it will work as expected.

If the user only wants to create the console but not have it visible yet, one can call console hide as the first console statement. Any stdout/stderr output after the setup would then become visible when the console was later opened.

Since this would made available in 8.7 or later, some of the wiki code might not be needed.


This document has been placed in the public domain.