Why I love rxvt-unicode

  about 465 words   2 min

As a sysadmin or should I say a devops to be a la mode, I spend a lot of time in terminals. I don't use Gnome terminal or any other fancy ones. I used to play a lot with xterm but I switched to rxvt-unicode because it's light and customizable … a LOT.

Some things that I like about it :

  • Embedded Perl for endless customization
  • Daemon mode: one daemon can open multiple windows on multiple displays, which improves memory usage and startup time considerably
  • It crashes less than other forks or rxvt or any other terminals
  • UTF-8 well supported
  • A lot of fonts supported
  • A well documented man page
  • Tabs even if I don't use them it's nice to know that's available

The ArchLinux page is a good place to start customizing because by default the term is quite ugly.

Everything can be done in .Xresources or .Xdefaults file. I use the second one.

Here is my config :

  ! borderless and no scrollbar
  URxvt*scrollBar_right: false
  URxvt*scrollBar: false
  URxvt*borderLess: false

  ! history 
  URxvt*saveLines: 50000

  ! the transparency stuff
  URxvt*tintColor: white
  URxvt*shading: 30
  URxvt*fading: 70
  URxvt.transparent: true

  ! fonts 
  URxvt*font: xft:Terminus:regular:size=10:antialias=true:hinting=true
  URxvt*boldFont: xft:Terminus:regular:size=10:antialias=true:hinting=true
  URxvt*foreground: AntiqueWhite
  URxvt*background: black

  ! I don't use tabs 
  URxvt*tabbed.autohide: true

  ! cursor things 
  URxvt*cursorUnderline: true
  URxvt*cursorBlink: true
  *.cursorColor: #D70040

  ! URLs
  URxvt.colorUL: #4682B4
  URxvt.perl-ext-common:       default,clipboard,url-select,keyboard-select,bell-command,matcher
  URxvt.keysym.C-u:            perl:url-select:select_next
  URxvt.url-select.launcher:   firefox
  URxvt.urlLauncher:           firefox
  URxvt.url-select.underline:  false
  URxvt.keysym.C-Up:           perl:keyboard-select:activate
  URxvt.keysym.M-s: perl:keyboard-select:search

and here is how it looks like


full size image

With my window manager, it fits just well. I enjoy the fact that that it's clean without any borders and since I use a tiling wm, I don't have to be concerned about resizing my windows. That's handy when you have all kinds of keybindings and a deep love about shortcuts and aliases.

The URLs part of my .Xdefaults allows me to open links directly from my terminal in firefox. Since I use mutt for my mail, I like to be able to open links directly from my terminal. In that specific configuration, I use the Ctr-u keybinding to activate the selection in the terminal and then I use the j and k keys to navigate between the links like you would use in vim. If you are interested check the ArchLinux page that I mentionned above to configure it the way you like.

I use also the fading option to make only the term I use bright the other ones are faded in the background. That way I'm sure I type in the right window. I remember a colleague rebooting the wrong server because he thought he was doing things in the right terminal. This little trick can help 😉

I customized the color and aspect of my cursor to have a rich carmine blinking one.

I really encourage people to try it.

CLI awesome-wm rxvt rxvt-unicode shell

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