Curiouser and curiouser... the problem I have described happens when I have the image displayed at zoom 1 or lower (i.e., zoomed out). When I zoom in with ds9, all keys respond immediately, but I now get Rebekah's problem (cursor moves to top-left of screen and task output is given for an apparently random position on the image).
I suspect the problem is in DS9 and would recommend that you be sure you have the latest version. I suspect what's happening is that the cursor read is not responding because DS9 is intercepting them as keystroke shortcuts (e.g. the 'c' prints coords rather than passes through to the image cursor read). The 'q' key is not mapped, but if you want to test this see whether keys on the list at http://hea-www.harvard.edu/RD/ds9/ref/keyboard.html but other ones don't.
Also, are you using any kind of virtualization software, e.g. VMWare or VirtualBox to run linux? We've had reports this can have some unusual problems with X and may explain e.g. the cursor jumping to the corner of the window. The fact the cursor changed to a blinking circle means the client (IRAF) initiated the cursor read correctly, the rest of up to the server being used (DS9 or XImtool).
If it is a DS9 problem you'll have to take it up with Bill Joye at CfA if you can't find a working version. So far, I havent been able to reproduce any of this.
Thanks for the suggestions Mike, but no joy. Although we only have ds9 V5.4, I've downloaded V5.6.3 and confirmed that the problem persists. The only keys which respond immediately are 'q' and ':', all others require holding the key down, irrespective of whether they're on the ds9 shortcut list or not. And I'm running linux as native.
I'll drop Bill Joye an email and see if he's ever heard of this problem. Like jrhee, Rebekah and I are using Fedora 10, so I'm starting to think it's connected with that.
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