The terminal driver vane.

Keyboard events and the like from Unix are received by Dill as %belt tasks, and Dill sends %blit gifts containing $blits back to the runtime to be displayed in the Unix terminal. The manner of interacting with Dill differs depending on whether you're in userspace or kernelspace, as we'll explore below.


For technical reasons, Dill performs a handful of system tasks related to booting a ship and some memory operations. Aside from those, other Vanes mostly just pass Dill tasks to print error messages and the like to the terminal.


Unlike in kernelspace, userspace applications are unlikely to %pass Dill tasks directly. Instead, Dill looks at things in terms of sessions. A session is a pipeline between a client and a handler, where:

  • The client is an external input source and output sink; a terminal with dimensions and so forth.
  • The handler is an application in Urbit that interprets input, maybe does something with it, maybe produces output to be displayed in the client, etc. The handler may itself handle and multiplex terminal interfaces for other applications, as is the case with the %hood module %drum, or it may be a stand-alone application.

Currently, Dill supports multiple sessions, but Vere (the runtime) only supports a single Unix terminal client for the default session (%$). This means any non-default sessions will need to be linked through the default session handler %drum (a module of the %hood app) if they are to work in the Unix terminal. Alternatively, a client could be built that talks to Dill via the HTTP server Eyre in a similar way to the %webterm app, and interacts with sessions entirely separately from the Unix terminal and its %drum handler.

%drum is Arvo's CLI app manager. By default you'll have one CLI application running: the %dojo. You may also have additional CLI apps which you have started or attached with the |link command. It's %drum that keeps track of which one is active, which one input should be routed to, which one should be displayed, what each prompt should look like, and so forth. Dill itself is oblivious to the distinction between these CLI apps. It only sees the session with %drum, so it just passes all input to %drum and display whatever %drum gives it.

While %drum talks with Dill in $dill-belts and $dill-blits, it talks to CLI apps with $sole-actions and $sole-events, which are defined in the sole library. For more information on the sole library and the related shoe library, and for information on how to build CLI apps, you can refer to the CLI app tutorial.

To give a basic idea of how keyboard events flow through these systems and produce terminal output, here's a diagram showing the messages in pseudo-Hoon:

Dill userspace diagram

You can use a move trace to get a hands-on feel for this data flow.