tiling terminals manager

I tried terminator (thanks go to Nicolas Valcarcel for asking me to sponsor a Debian upload, thus forcing me to try it, and Asheesh Laroia for doing a lightning talk at debconf about it), but I’m not convinced.
– More keybindings are clearly missing. You can only switch terminals using Previous/Next keybindings.
– More features would be great, like the ability to switch the position of two terminals (so you could reorganize them).
– It has some small usability problems, like the fact that the config is text-based, not using gconf, that it’s not possible to change the config without restarting it, that the title bar doesn’t display anything useful most of the time, since it prefixes the current terminal’s title with “Terminator: “, etc.

So, is there any other tiling terminals manager I should try, before filing tons of feature requests on terminator? My other requirement is that it mustn’t reinvent the wheel, but use the gnome-terminal widget.

Thank you.

14 thoughts on “tiling terminals manager

  1. Hi!
    Actually you are missing some things.
    1) You actually can reorganize your terminals (it’s on the man page IIRC) just with Cntrl+Right_Click.
    2) You can use gconf, but for that you need to configure it using gnome-terminal as your configuration editor (as in configure gnome-terminal and terminator will catch the change)

    P.S: Please spam the terminator bug tracker with feature request, they will be really apreciated!

  2. Hi Lucas

    Thanks for your coments!

    – I would like to see more shortcuts too. Navigating in directions is a bit tricky since the widgets are actually a tree of gtkpaned containers, but maybe we can make it work.
    – as nxvl pointed out, we do have a drag and drop feature for reordering terms, but some keybondings would be good too
    – the titlebar issue you mention is already fixed in trunk and now shows the term title first
    – although we can use gnome terminal profiles from gconf, it is my understanding that doing such things is actually a violation of the gconf way : we can’t set a shchema for an unlimited number of profiles, so it is wrong to store those settings there.
    – we hav been doing some work recently to improve the config file format which will allow us to save your layout and profiles. I am torn if we should use inotify to re-read this when it changes though.

    Please do file all the bugs/ideas you have, we want to be as useful as we can!

  3. Nicolas:
    Ctrl+RClick? I always left click and drag? Ctrl+RClick actually triggers some Compiz thing for me.

    The “gnome-terminal widget”? What does that mean?

    And I generally consider gconf to be a usability problem, while text-based configs are good. I think Enlightenment is beautiful, but the fact that it doesn’t have text-based configs makes it unusable. I want to have a different menu when I use GNOME and when I use Enlightenment. I can’t, they both try to use the same XDG menu. That Fluxbox lets me have a text-based config makes me love it.

  4. I’d better modify terminator to use gnome-terminal widget _AND_ then let it be a frontend to _screen_ with reorganizable views

    aaarrhhhggg… i start to salivate… :)

  5. Hi,

    Thanks for all the comments.

    Regarding gconf, I like the fact that terminator automatically picks up my gnome-terminal config. What I don’t like is that terminator_config(5) mixes VTE options and terminator-specific options. IMHO, the terminator-specific options should also go to gconf.

    Regarding reorganizing using drag and drop, I find it very counter-intuitive that the target terminal is split, and the terminal I’m dragging is inserted as the half of the target terminal. It would be much more intuitive if the dragged terminal and the target terminal were just switched. Ie, if I have:
    A|C
    –C
    B|C
    And drag C to B, I get:
    A|B
    –B
    C|B

    I tried dvtm, and I’m definitely staying with Terminator ;)

  6. Hey Lucas

    Switching is certainly a good idea, although I suspect if we switched the drag&drop to do that, we’d have people telling us they prefer the drag-to-split thing we have now. I expect both can be arranged, but we’re starting to run out of modifiers!

    As for using gconf – wouldn’t it be rather confusing if we had some settings in gconf and some in a config file?
    (my original reply was written on the bus, so a bit brief. Basically my understanding of gconf suggests that gnome-terminal and Network Manager are misusing it by keeping terminal/wifi profiles in there. There is no schema for /apps/gnome-terminal/Profiles/MyPrettyPinkTerminal and never could be, and if such a thing is created, it can’t be deleted, and there are no default values for it to be unset to. Modulo our non-GNOME users, I’d be happy to use gconf because of its obvious user and developer benefits, but I’m very uncomfortable about the inevitable misuse we would spread further. That is, unless I’m wrong, which would be very nice!)

  7. @chris:
    What about something like: if you drag to a terminal title bar, you switch with it. If you drag inside a terminal, it gets splitted.

    Regarding gconf, I’m not an expert. Maybe ask a gconf expert about that? I would be surprised if gnome-terminal abused gconf, since gnome-terminal is part of the gnome desktop.

  8. Lucas: Interesting idea. I was also thinking on the bus this morning that since we already use cairo to overlay the grey squares which show you where your dragged terminal will end up, we could improve what we draw to give a better indication of what will happen (which we would need to do if the exact position you drop on has an effect on the behaviour).

    I’ll see what i can find out wrt gconf :)

  9. Why stop at terminals? Use a tiling WM! I’ve tried ratpoison, ion, wmii, dwm, awesome and now I’m using xmonad. They arrange all windows nicely.

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