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Tabbed Terminal alternative Apps
A number of Mac OS X applications support tabbed terminals, such as iTerm, GLTerm and the X11 apps such as multi-aterm. Some users are happy with these solutions, but none of them worked for me:
  • iTerm is too unresponsive--it feels like typing in a lagged SSH session when I'm actually on localhost!
  • GLTerm is not currently in development and is now quite dated.
  • X11 apps are fast, but they don't behave the same as Carbon apps
Finally, I came across Terminator which is a Java based terminal emulator packaged as a native Mac app. It supports a number of important features:
  • Tabs!
  • Faster than iTerm, but a bit slower than Terminal.
  • Automatic logging of the session.
  • Drag and drop from the Finder.
  • A Find feature to search the current session.
This is worth a look if you want a tabbed terminal application.
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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: svan on May 03, '06 08:30:30AM

I find that using 'screen' in Terminal is the fastest and easiest way to have tabbed terminal.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: sapporo on May 04, '06 08:39:01AM

I'm quite sure that screen is the right thing to use, but I've just never found the time to get comfortable with it.

Any tips and tricks you'd like to share?



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screen basics [Tabbed Terminal alternative]
Authored by: ubi on May 04, '06 10:16:45AM

I've found screen to be essential. Here's how I use it (note ^ means hold the 'ctrl' key down when typing the next letter; ^m is the same as hitting 'return'):

1. screen^m
2. ^a:captions always %w^m
3. ^ac^ac^ac^ac^ac
4. ^a0^aA^ufoo^mssh foo^m
5. ^an^aA^ubar^mssh bar^m
6. ^an^aA^ubiff^mssh biff^m
7. ^an^aA^ubaz^mssh baz^m
8. ^an^aA^uquux^mssh quux^m
9. ^ad

This may seem like a lot of work, just to get started. What I've done here is (1) started a screen session, (2) set a caption line at the bottom which will always show what 'tab' I'm in, (3) started five shells in separate tabs, (4-8) named each for a different machine [foo, bar, biff, baz, quux] and logged in to each using ssh, and (9) disconnected the session.

But the beauty thing is, I don't need to repeat this process ever, unless the machine I started the screen session on goes down. So 1-9 should be done on a server or desktop machine that stays up. (You can rlogin/ssh first from a remote machine, of course.)

To reconnect to the 5-tab session, log in to the server, type 'screen -rA' and be amazed! All the tabs are live; none of the ssh sessions are gone. If you start programs in different tabs (e.g., try running 'top' in the active tab) before disconnecting, they will still be running when you reconnect!

Now open a new terminal or log in to the server from a terminal on another machine (while keeping one eye on the session you just recovered), type 'screen -drA' and be even more amazed! The existing session disconnects, and you're reconnected in the new terminal. Everything is still live and working. What is even more cool is that, if your remote login is disconnected due to a network outage, the screen session normally disconnects cleanly and you can reconnect when the net comes back using 'screen -rA' again. This feature has saved me many times.

To move between tabs, type '^an' (next), '^ap' (previous), or '^a0' or '^a1' etc. for tabs named foo, bar, etc. '^a ' (space bar) also rolls to the next tab. '^aa' toggles between the two most recently selected tabs. Almost all the ^a commands tolerate holding the ctrl key down for the next letter as well. This is particularly nice for '^a^a' toggling... Remember '^ad' to disconnect and 'screen -list' to see that your existing (disconnected) session(s) is still running.

Hope this helps.



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screen basics [Tabbed Terminal alternative]
Authored by: david-bo on Jun 13, '06 06:13:49AM

Point 2 should read

2. ^a:caption always %w^m

I.e., no 's' at the end of caption

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http://www.google.com/search?as_q=%22Authored+by%3A+david-bo%22&num=10&hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&btnG=



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: svan on May 04, '06 11:59:02AM

Config I use: http://svan.redbrick.dcu.ie/configs/screenrc

Brief screen tutorial:
http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2004/07/06/unix_gems.html

you can find more on google.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: mike3k on May 03, '06 08:33:06AM

I've tried iTerm & everything else but I always come back to Terminal. It's the fastest & cleanest and I like it.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: Anonymous on May 03, '06 08:45:23AM

I hadn't heard of Terminator before. I downloaded it and the first thing I noticed was there's no way to bookmark that I can find. I like Terminal and iTerm's ability to allow me to just pick a bookmark and login to remote servers automatically. If Terminal would just add tabs I'd be golden. As it is, I use iTerm because it has bookmarks and tabs. I don't like iTerm's configuration screens at all and it is slow, but I get by with it.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: daeley on May 03, '06 12:55:13PM

Why not just create an alias to that server login and then type the alias?



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: Anonymous on May 04, '06 08:00:57AM

True. Problem is I have several logins to the server and making aliases for each is somewhat painful. A quick little bookmark is just easier for me.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: sjonke on May 03, '06 09:22:27AM

I tried it out and found it to be pretty excrutiatingly slow. Is iTerm really slower than this? I don't recall it being so, but it has been a while since I tried it. Also it is super clunky and feature poor. It may have tabs, but that's about it. A problem I had with iTerm was that it was very buggy - it seemed to crash frequently. I don't think Terminal.app has ever crashed on me.

---
--- What?



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: wgscott on May 03, '06 09:44:39AM

I use iTerm all the time. I never really had any problem with it, and it has been fast enough. This one (Terminator) does seem faster, however. iTerm has always been stable in my hands. I use it 8 hours+ per day. In any case, thanks for the tip. The more options, the better.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: BobHarris on May 03, '06 05:13:34PM

I use iTerm 0.8.0

0.8.1 had a very annoying bouncing icon that you could not get rid of.

0.8.2 got rid of the bouncing icon, but it had a memory leak that would crash it if you had a lot of stuff going into the scroll back region. They know about the bug and it is apparently fixed in the cvs source pool.

I have been happy with iTerm and I am a software developer working in Vim most of the day ssh'ed into various Linux systems.

As for speed, I'm not going to notice anything at work as I have a PowerMac Dual G5/2.5GHz system with lots of memory (2.5GB). At home I use my 1GHz G4 14" iBook with 640MB. I do not find any real problems with iTerm running at home, but I also use it less at home, as that is when I surf and do more typical home user stuff.

Bob Harris



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: drauh on May 03, '06 07:31:58PM

i use iterm daily, and i compile it from the cvs (or is it svn, now?) checkout. i have no issues with it. it runs fast enough on my tibook 667MHz with 768MB RAM. and i do type fast: been a sysadmin since 1991, and i need to type fast.

i think they may have fixed some of the speed issues in the cvs, but not tagged it for a release. those who have trouble with it might try compiling a cvs copy and see how it goes.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: vaiism on May 08, '06 07:28:28AM

I was kinda surprised to hear iTerm is unusable for the author - I have been using daily for a long time - I work at Sun and live alot in the Term between Solaris and Mac systems and love iTerm because of the tabbed viewing...

Will have to try this java one and see if it is any better at all.

Thanks for the hint.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: algengler on May 03, '06 10:21:06AM

I tried Terminator and found it great, a little slow, but I really like it. There was one problem in that the ESCAPE key did not get you out of INSERT when in vi. When I reported it, they fixed it within minutes and i redownloaded it.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: Wazzoo on May 03, '06 11:00:58AM

With the servers I connect to, the always have an idle disconnect set. Often I can be working on code for a good hour before needing to run it on the remote server at which point its logged me out. Its no biggie, but its frustrating to have to keep logging in each time and there's no way I can get them to turn the idle disconnect off.

So far, I've only found iTerm has an anti-idle disconnect feature..and it works well. But iTerm just feels so slow. Its not got any of the snappiness of terminal. Everything you type feels laboured.

Terminator seems good, pretty fast and has tabs, but no anti-idle disconnect feature. I would pay money to have that with a snappy interface and tabs.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: barefootguru on May 03, '06 12:35:06PM

So it's not as simple as setting TMOUT in Bash? That's how I got around timeout at one client...



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: Wazzoo on May 03, '06 05:00:46PM

Actually, having posted that comment, I did work out what was wrong.

Although iTerm can do it for you, it has a setting that tells it to send a null character every few minutes, the other way to do it is to edit the /edc/ssh_config file and add a line that says:

ServerAliveInterval 300

And that will do the quivalent...every five minutes it will send a few packets to keep the connection alive.

The reason the connection can drop is either due to the ssh server or due to firewall/router inbetween that sees and idle connection and kills it. Doing the above fixes it, although its a bit of a pain as you have to start mucking around with system files.

With that now set..Terminator is fast and has tabs and my ssh connectons stay alive. Just what I was looking for! :)



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: Shawn Parr on May 03, '06 05:22:20PM
Don't edit the /etc/ssh_config file.

If you do a man ssh_config you will see that you can also put a file called ~/.ssh/config that allows you to put in overrides for what is in the /etc/ssh_config file. So create that file and add whatever options you want to have for your account, then after a system upgrade your changes will still be around unlike if you edited the system wide file and Apple replaces it.

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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: Wazzoo on May 04, '06 07:38:34AM

Ah, very useful! Thanks for that...i'll make the changes on mine.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: kL on May 03, '06 11:29:57AM

I miss one thing in Apple's terminal: copying to clipboard as soon as text was selected (without cmd+c). It's like all terminals I've used work, and I can't change my habit...



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: joab on May 03, '06 02:08:14PM

That is my number one complaint too. I would also it if you could press mouse 3 (scrollwhell) to paste again. I've been in *nix far too long to remember pressing cmd+c



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: BobHarris on May 03, '06 05:20:33PM

While I use iTerm and its automatic "Copy" when you select something, I still have a Terminal.app running and I have the need to copy/paste in other applications.

My solution is a 4 button Logitech iClick mouse. The left and right buttons are the standard click and control-click. The scroll wheel can be clicked and I have it mapped to Command-C (copy). The 4th button I have mapped to Command-V (paste).

It is not ideal, but it does make it easier over all.

One more thing. Terminal.app allows you to select text and then drag and drop the selected text. I do use this from time to time, but for the most part, I stick with my mouse button mappings.

Bob Harris



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Select and paste does work in Terminal
Authored by: mike-c on May 03, '06 08:37:33PM

What you describe works to some extent in 10.4's Terminal. Select some text, then press button 3 (the scrollwheel), and the text is pasted.

I don't know when they added this feature, but I'm glad they did. One limitation, though, is that it works only in a single terminal window. You can't select text in one terminal window and then paste it an another with the middle mouse button. (You obviously can't paste the selected text into another application, either.) A more positive way to say this is that selecting text doesn't overwrite what you had in the clipboard. :-)



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: rexroof on May 04, '06 12:03:13PM

one thing you can do as an alternative is highlight text and paste with cmd-shift-v. unfortunately it doesn't work across terminal windows, just within the terminal you have highlighted.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: jaysoffian on May 03, '06 08:46:47PM

Everyone email the author of Chax and ask him to add tabbed support to Terminal. He did it for iChat, I'm sure he can do it for Terminal. I've requested it of him already, but he doesn't think there is enough demand to be worthwhile.

Maybe a few more folks requesting he look into it might help. :-)

j.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: jakeWB on May 04, '06 07:31:05AM

I do like Terminator, but I'd prefer to have black text on white background, or even translucent background. I know that from the command line one can issue:

terminator -xrm fontName:Monaco -xrm fontSize:13 -xrm antiAlias:true -xrm foreground:black -xrm background:white -xrm selectionColor:\#b4d5fe

But, I'm not sure how to make this default behavior for Terminator. Any ideas?

Thanks!



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: jakeWB on May 04, '06 07:55:52AM

Duh! It is under Preferences. Sorry!



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: vtron on May 07, '06 03:31:50PM

I haven't found out how to make a translucent background. Have you?



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materm is now mrxvt
Authored by: n8gray on May 04, '06 03:29:44PM

By the way, multi-aterm has become mrxvt now, and it's a great choice for an OS X terminal emulator. It's crazy fast, tabbed, highly configurable, and extremely lightweight. Yeah, you have to run X11, but the overhead of X11 is utterly negligible. I'm running activity monitor right now and X11 has *peak* CPU usage of about 5%, avg usage of 1%, and uses less memory than SSHKeychain or MacBiff (~11MB Real, 4.5MB private).



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Terminator: garbled characters + reporting a bug
Authored by: vtron on May 07, '06 03:57:18PM

I tried Terminator.
It hopelessly garbles the characters in the encoding I am using (Hungarian), I would like to report this as a bug, but when go to
->Help->Report a Bug
it launches Mail which asks me to create a new account.
I am not using Mail to mail I just want to send a bug report.
I found absolutely NOTHING about the authors and/or bug submission
on the Terminator site http://software.jessies.org/
which I found remarkable but sad at the same time.
Any help on how I can submit a Terminator bug report (now also about bug reporting :-) is appreciated.

On the other hand it has to be said that the Hungarian encoding is a really funny one on the mac, I have the suspicion that it is buggy.
It promises to be ISO-latin2 (which is normally used as a reasonable 8-bit substitute), but on the terminal the backspace and backarrow garbles the commandline, i.e., with some characters it thinks it is two or the other way round. this is really annoying. Has anyone experienced this problem with this or other non-English encodings? (this would be worth another thread maybe)
So after all it may not be Terminator's fault, but does make it unusable for me unlike Terminal.

I haven't played around much yet, but sg on the positive note: I noticed that apart from looking pretty if you (accidentally) output a lot of text to the standard output, you can kill it with Control-C and it stops intantaneously. This is not the case in Terminal which sometimes needs half a minute to stop which gets on my nerves.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: digid on May 09, '06 11:47:14AM

It would be nice if one of these supported a serial port. I still need to connect to the console port of hardware from time to time and have not found a good app for my mac.

Dale



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: ikioi on May 17, '06 12:23:45AM

Zterm is very good. I've used it to access serial ports on everything from servers to switches to fiber channel storage from my mac, and I love it. I don't know if it works with intel macs yet though.



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Tabbed Terminal alternative
Authored by: nyxy on Jun 07, '06 10:31:33AM

I have been on iTerm 0.7.8 for at least a year now, and maybe longer - it has NONE of the utterly ridiculous slowness and incredible memory-hogging that later versions have. I regret it every time I try to upgrade and doubt I'll try again, but if you go back and find this one I think you'll be a lot happier with it.



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