I use console applications – a lot. When it comes to running multiple programs on a computer, GNU screen is essential, but I find myself connecting to multiple servers and running GNU screen in each. It’s possible to run GNU screen under GNU screen, but it can get messy getting the keyboard shortcuts right. I needed a tabbed terminal program.
GNOME comes with a tabbed terminal, but I don’t have most of the libraries installed and I didn’t want to install them all just to get a tabbed terminal program. Checking the package lists on the Debian GNU/Linux site, one package looked quite interesting – mrxvt. Touted as being a lightweight tabbed terminal that doesn’t need the GNOME or KDE libraries, it looked promising (despite all that transparency/translucency rubbish – function over form for my terminals, TYVM)
One apt-get, and I’m away. I had a play, I RTFM, I started working. Things I like:
- Setting tab names – okay, you need to highlight some text to do it (unless your shell updates it) but it’s great being able to quickly see which server I’m working on
- Small memory footprint – VmPeak of 8040kB (okay, the shells running under it take up more, but for the multiplexer that’s fine)
- Switching tabs is easy – ALT-(number) like Firefox, or CTRL-(PgUp|PgDn) to cycle through them
- Activity indicator – if there’s been some activity on the terminal, the tab indicates this.
So, instead of having 8 xterms all taking up screen space, I’ve got one mrxvt window with a tab for each server. On each server I’ve got GNU screen running to allow multiple applications. With 3 key commands I can select a server and a screen – sweet.
I just need to change the font and colours to how I like things, and I can see that I’m going to get on very well with this.