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XTerm is favorite

XTerm is know to most X-Windows users as that ugly terminal with the strange scrollbar and the unreadable font. And it doesn’t even have tabs! But, I think it’s the best damn terminal emulator in the world. It just doesn’t appear that way at first.

By default, XTerm comes with warts:

  • It has an ugly, small font.
  • What’s up with the black on white? I’m a 1337 h4x0r and I want a black background, damnit!
  • Double-click Selections is unintuitive.
  • Where are the tabs?

Default configuration for XTerm 234

But its warts are easily removed.

The font is small and ugly

Easily solved:

$ xrdb -merge
/* I want pretier fonts */
XTerm*faceName: Liberation Mono
XTerm*faceSize: 10
[Ctrl+D]
$ xterm

XTerm with nicer than default font

The black on white is an insult to my 1337ness

No longer so:

$ xrdb -merge
/* I want a 1337-style color-scheme */
XTerm*background: black
XTerm*Foreground: Grey
[Ctrl+D]
$ xterm

Now I can install my 1337 hacking tools in style! (If only I could install 1337 hacking skills as easily.)

1337-style XTerm

Double-click selections are unintuitive

Most terminal emulators let you double-click to quickly select words. XTerm does this as well, but its definition of a “word” is a bit narrow if you’re used to other programs. The good news is that XTerm is extremely configurable in this sense. It lets you decide what to select on double-click, on triple-click, all the way up to 5 clicks. You can define the boundaries of the selection by means of presets such as line, group and page, but what I like best is its ability to use regular expressions. This lets you do cool things, like, for example, using one click to select a word, two clicks to select a sentence, and three clicks to select a paragraph.

My own configuration is a bit simple, probably a testimony to how little code I write these days:

$ xrdb -merge
/* The selection only stops at spaces and newlines */
XTerm*on2Clicks: regex [^  \n]+
[Ctrl+D]

Where are my tabs

You should really be using GNU Screen instead, which has too many advantages to name here. It even allows you to do Remote pair programming over SSH.

If you use Screen within an XTerm, be sure to add to following to your X configuration.

$ echo "XTerm*metaSendsEscape: true" | xrdb -merge

Otherwise, you might find yourself unable to control Screen

Saving your configuration

Ready to save your precious configuration?

$ xrdb -edit .Xdefaults

You’re done. It’s time to go brag to your friends.


    5 Comments ( Add comment / trackback )

    1. On Dec 06, 2008 at 19:33

      […] is my favorite terminal emulator and I love GNU Screen. So, imagine my joy when I found out that Screen can persistently show window […]

    2. On Sep 23, 2012 at 02:31

      […] XTerm is favorite By Rowan Rodrik | On November 27, 2008 at 23:11 […]

    3. (permalink)
      Comment by Yu
      On September 23, 2012 at 02:39

      It seems so great..
      I was trying to find another program to instead of it .

    4. On Dec 14, 2012 at 05:34

      […] 0 Source Address:http://argcandargv.com/archives/542Author:http://argcandargv.com/aboutmeTitle : XTerm is favorite Author:Rowan […]

    5. (permalink)
      Comment by Ezequiel
      On January 22, 2013 at 20:30

      This is really useful. Thank you!