Tools I use: Tmux

Tmux is a Terminal MUltipleXer, which is a fancy way of saying its a tabbing system for terminals. Unlike native GUI terminals, it curses based. While this may initially sound like a disadvantage, it actually allows for some interesting features. The biggest of these is you can "detach" from your current tab session, resume it at a later time and everything is as you left it.

Why I like it

My original reasons for choosing tmux were that it supported both vertical and horizontal splits whereas GNU Screen only supported one of the two (which of them, I forget). It also had a more permissive BSD license, which I like more than GPL.

Pair Programming

Another reason I like tmux is its use for pair programming. At Seajure, we all SSH into a single box and watch as one person edits code. This is much nicer than crowding around someone's laptop, which isn't feasible given the seating arrangements at play.

Long running sessions

The other main use I have for tmux is long running processes on random servers. I have a virtualbox VM with an ArchLinux install for various UNIX-y things that my mac isn't terribly suited for (such as writing this post). In it, I have a tmux session which helps provide me context from one editing session to another. Tmux is also a boon when dealing with a flaky wifi connection. Being able to resume the in-progress terminal screen is nice, so you don't have orphaned processes when your connection dies.

How I configure it

Allow switching the currently focused pane by mouse click.

setw -g mouse on

Use zsh as my default shell when opening new panes.

set-option -g default-shell /bin/zsh

Set the title of the current window to something descriptive for the entire tmux session. This results in the current window being called "1. neon-vm:0.0.0 emacsclient justinlilly@neon-vm:~"

set-option -g set-titles on
set-option -g set-titles-string '#H:#S.#I.#P #W #T' # window number,program name, active(or not)

If a "bell" is used in any of the attached sessions, trigger a bell in the current window. Turn off the visual bell, instead opting for an audible bell.

set-option -g bell-action any
set-option -g visual-bell off

I prefer having my C-z as my default prefix. While it means I need to double-tap C-z for backgrounding a process, its much more accessible to my caps lock based ctrl key than B and doesn't interfere with emacs likes C-a does. Nested session? C-z z (the send-prefix command below) will send the inner session the prefix identifier.

set-option -g prefix C-z
unbind-key C-b
bind-key z send-prefix

Zero based indexing is awesome… in programming languages. I'd rather have tmux start at 1, as it preserves simple left-based ordering for windows.

set -g base-index 1

When a smaller terminal connects to a tmux client, it shrinks to fit it. The clients attached with bigger displays see this constrained view. aggressive-resize makes it such that the window is only resized if the smaller client is actively looking at it.

setw -g aggressive-resize on

Next are a bunch of options related to my status line. The left side of the status line displays the hostname and the session number like "neon-vm:0 |". The right side shows a simple date and time. The center status line is centered such that it's distinct from the left and right.

set -g status-bg black
set -g status-fg green
set -g status-left-length 15
set -g status-left ' #[fg=cyan,bright]#10H#[fg=green]:#[fg=white]#S#[fg=green] | #[default]'
set -g status-right '| #[fg=yellow]%y-%m-%d %H:%M '
set -g status-justify centre

By default, windows only keep 2000 lines of history. Let's increase that to 100k. Nothing worse than something important being JUST off of screen.

set -g history-limit 100000

Some nifty key bindings I've picked up here and there. I like the | and - variants which do window splits, which I picked up from . The S command will prompt for a hostname

bind-key r source-file ~/.tmux.conf
bind-key S command-prompt -p ssh: "new-window -n %1 'ssh %1'"
bind-key | split-window -h
bind-key - split-window -v

Window navigation with arrow keys disrupts my "keep your keys on/near the homerow" flow. Use vim-style and emacs-style navigation.

bind h select-pane -L
bind j select-pane -D
bind k select-pane -U
bind l select-pane -R

bind -n C-M-h select-pane -L
bind -n C-M-j select-pane -D
bind -n C-M-k select-pane -U
bind -n C-M-l select-pane -R


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