Byobu: Fancy window dressings on GNU Screen

As I’m working more on the command line now, I’ve been trying to incorporate GNU Screen into my workflow. Some might argue it’s a bit redundant when using a window manager and a terminal that supports tabbed sessions, but I prefer not to deal with the tabs and it’s nice to attach to a screen and pick up where I left off.

And I was quite happy with GNU Screen. The only issue is that I had to change the default escape key \C-a to \C-\ since I heavily use \C-a in both Emacs, GNU readline and zsh to go to the beginning of the line. (Actually, I use prelude’s smarter-move-beginning-of-line in Emacs.) Anyway, I quickly changed the escape to C-\ with this line in the .screenrc: escape ^\\\.

But then I stumbled onto Byobu, which provides a set of “window-dressings” for GNU Screen (and Tmux if you prefer). The default backend is Tmux but it can be easily changed to GNU Screen. All of the normal screen commands work as you’d expect but I like the extra mode lines on the bottom of the terminal. The bottom lines are bit flashy if you prefer the simplicity of GNU Screen, but the notifications can be customized for a slew of options including an option to add your own.  So far I’m liking it 🙂


Byobu screenshot
Byobu’s man page while running byobu

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