If a user hits a key that isn't appropriate e.g. hitting an undefined
Function key 'X11' shows at the bottom of the screen and nothing further c
an be done until you hit Control-R to 'reset' it.

It's actually "X II" (II means "input inhibited") not X11 which is something else entirely :)

Using IBM's java applet the X11 shows up, but the 'reset' seems to
happen automatically.  In other words you
can just keep going if you make a mistake.

Can I recreate that behaviour using tn5250?

Sure.  Just set the +uninhibited config option.

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