URXVT, my new terminal emulator

A terminal emulator is like a pair of hiking shoes, it takes time to choose it but it's a good sign if you don't pay attention to it after a while. For about 2 years, I have used Terminator on all my machines. Terminator is a very powerful terminal emulator with a lot of features. Among others, it has tabs, it handles true transparency, it detects urls, it allows to split each tab into several embed terminals... On the other hand, Terminator is also quite slow and for a tool you use several hours a day, that's annoying. So I was looking for a faster and lighter alternative with at least tabs, url detections and not too many dependencies.

Some days ago, while trying different plugins for my Vim setup, I (re)discovered URXVT (man urxvt) and I realized that you can add plugins to it and through some of them, it supports tabs and URL detection and more! So I switched to URXVT. My configuration (to put in ~/.Xdefaults) is available on Github. To get the tabs, you need to put the tabbedex plugin in the directory ~/.urxvt/. This plugin replaces the default one (called tabbed); it allows to rename tabs, to put the title of the focused tab next to the tab bar, to hide the "new" button...

This gives the following result:


To handle the tabs, the following keyboard shortcuts are available:

  • Shift + Down to add a new tab
  • Shift + Right / Shift + Left to focus the next/previous tab
  • Shift + Up to rename the current tab
  • Control + Right / Control + Left to move a tab

For now, the only missing feature is the ability to split vertically or horizontally the terminal. URXVT is not able to do this on its own so I'll have to use an external tool like GNU screen (man screen) or tmux but that will be for another post.