/ linux

Copyright. Pasteright...

The problem

Ok, so time to admit a thing.

I've been using Linux systems regularly for about 15 years now, and to this date, I've been of the understanding that copy and paste in Linux is like going to the dentist. It's something you do because you need to, not because it's in any enjoyable.

On Windows and Mac, copy and paste works pretty much how you think it should. You copy something, and then you paste something. What you paste is what you copied. Everyone is happy. On Linux, not so much. I'm not going to write about cut buffers and what it all means, because smarter people have said much about this, suffice to say, it's complicated.

With a keyboard a mouse in front of you, you've pretty much got:

  • ctrl-c / ctrl-v
  • select text / middle mouse click
  • ctrl-ins / shift-ins

The classical ctrl-c / ctrl-v combination works pretty much how you would guess. Except, there's a lot of places where this doesn't work. Like in the terminal. So this is where the text selection automatically-put-in-a-magic-buffer comes into play.

Text selection and middle mouse click is a very easy way to copy text fast, except this doesn't work very well if you select something by mistake later.

So then you test out the weird frankenmonster that is ctrl-ins / shift-ins. How this works is, well, it pretty much depends. On what kind of window you are in, what is in your clipboard, what is in your cut buffer, phase of the moon, who knows.

The solution

...has probably been around for ages, but it's new for me!

So, it's pretty simple.

Use ctrl-c / ctrl-v whenever possible. In your word processor, web browser, graphical editor, what have you.
Use ctrl-shift-c / ctrl-shift-v when this doesn't work.

Ok, it probably doesn't work all places, I know for a fact that xterm is not happy with this, but I'll probably work much more stable than selecting text and gambling on hitting the middle mouse button.