From: Axel Kohlmeyer (
Date: Sun Mar 15 2009 - 09:32:49 CDT

On Sun, 2009-03-15 at 08:11 +0200, Thomas Evangelidis wrote:
> Hi,
hi tom,

> I had problems running vmd-1.8.7a55 on KUbuntu 8.10 for several days.
> I always got the error message "Illegal variable name." when trying to
> execute the setup vmd script. But the most bizarre was that I could

what exactly do you mean by "setup vmd script"?
when you run "./configure" ?
or when you run "make install" ?
or when you run "vmd" ?

> run vmd on Kubuntu 7.10, so I notice that when starting up in Kubuntu

which version of vmd? rlwrap support was added only very recently
to the vmd launch script.

> 7.10 a message was saying that rlwrap was missing. Hence I uninstalled
> rlwrap from Kubuntu 8.10 and finally made it work.

please be more detailed or provide a startup output log from
"vmd -dispdev text"

> I then tried to download rlwrap source code and compile it but the
> problem persisted. Since in Fedora 10 rlwrap works fine I concluded
> that there must be a bug connected to rlwrap in ubuntu, which I think

i disagree with your conclusion. everything you report indicates that
the problem seems to be coming from scripts and not from rlwrap itself.

i have a hunch where this may be coming from, but to make certain, i
need additional information. do you have a c-shell installed? neither
of the two distributions does it by default and as of recent alpha
versions, vmd will install a bourne shell version of the launch script
instead of the traditional c-shell one to accommodate users of those
distributions (and people who think that c-shell scripts are evil). if
not, you please try installing it and then install vmd again. if it
works, it means that we have to look closer at the bourne shell version
of the launch script, perhaps there is still some minor bash-ism left
in it (ubuntu/debian uses a different, more strict bourne shell
implementation as /bin/sh).

> vmd developer would be able to spot.

now this makes me really wonder how programming vmd makes one an
expert in solving bugs in an external utility like rlwrap. the whole
point of using rlwrap was to _not_ have to hack readline directly.

> thanks,
> Tom

Axel Kohlmeyer
   Center for Molecular Modeling   --   University of Pennsylvania
Department of Chemistry, 231 S.34th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6323
tel: 1-215-898-1582,  fax: 1-215-573-6233,  office-tel: 1-215-898-5425
If you make something idiot-proof, the universe creates a better idiot.