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?
But its warts are easily removed.
The font is small and ugly
$ xrdb -merge /* I want pretier fonts */ XTerm*faceName: Liberation Mono XTerm*faceSize: 10 [Ctrl+D] $ xterm
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.)
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
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
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.