URxvt: Pros and cons

After getting fed up with Yakuake‘s bloat, Yeahconsole‘s broken embedding, and Tilda‘s flickering, broken scrollbar, and broken URL handling, I decided to try URxvt, since it has a Perl extension that’ll turn it into a slide-down terminal without being embedded in Yeahconsole.

(And because stjerm, though well-recommended by some, is the name of two seemingly independent Google Code projects and somehow feels just a touch shady to me)

After a few days of intermittent fiddling, my reactions were mixed:

Pros Cons
Like XTerm, an order of magnitude lighter and more responsive than anything else out there. Like XTerm, terribly documented by 2011 standards for something you must personalize heavily.[1]
Extensible in Perl Extensible in Perl
Has a URL-recognizer (unlike XTerm) and opens unselected URLs with one middle-click. You can’t amend the context menu for selected text via the config file. You need Perl.
Beautifully accurate “smart selection” plugin Needed Perl hackery and /usr/bin/xclip just to rebind Copy/Paste keys.
Elegant ISO 14755 Unicode codepoint input support ISO 14755 breaks Ctrl+Shift+C/V clipboard bindings.
Backspace and Ctrl+Backspace produce distinct keycodes by default URxvt’s default Ctrl+Backspace is the only XTerm Backspace that termcap/terminfo gives to vim/man on my machine so I had to rebind anyway to stay compatible.
I love the “plain” scrollbar style No way to feed the scrollback buffer with secondaryScroll but hide the scrollbar when vim makes it un-clickable.
  • Doesn’t flicker like VTE-based terminals
  • Unbeatable font support
  • Yet another set of Ctrl+Up/Down, Home/End, etc. keycodes needed in in my .zshrc.
  • Keybinds alias to other keys like in Vim, not to internal functions like in XTerm.

Nonetheless, it’s generally a decent terminal and I’ve switched to its kuake Perl extension. It has its warts but, so far, I get the impression that URxvt’s warts won’t bother me as much as XTerm’s warts do.

Still, I did almost gave up on it several times before I stumbled on the little fix I needed and, if I weren’t procrastinating something else right now, I probably would have given up. In case anyone wants it for reference purposes, my URxvt config is up on GitHub.

1. Manpages seem to be the source format and, even with table-of-contents generation and hyperlinking for the manpage cross-references in HTML and texinfo converters, it still involves a lot of fumbling, fiddling, and Ctrl+F-ing within too-long pages where there are no links direct to the relevant sections and quite a few “See the …” references which aren’t hyperlinked and don’t give any clue where to look for the materials suggested.

CC BY-SA 4.0 URxvt: Pros and cons by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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2 Responses to URxvt: Pros and cons

  1. Pingback: Modernizing XTerm’s Paste | Stephan Sokolow's Blog

  2. > ISO 14755 breaks Ctrl+Shift+C/V clipboard bindings.

    You could patch urxvt to use Ctrl+Shift+Alt for ISO 14755 mode:

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