Byobu – Text-Based Window Management At Its Finest

I’ve been a screen user on Ubuntu for a long time. When I first saw the magic of screen I too was lured into the thinking that you can do everything from a CLI, even multi-task!

After setting up Ubuntu on my Dell laptop I have been enjoying the latest Unity interface. I really haven’t had the need to fire up the command line to do much work. However, as it has been with all of the Ubuntu setups I’ve used I had to get into some configuration files to make some system adjustments. I’m not knocking the fact that I had to do this, but I was reminded that without screen trying to do multiple tasks on the command line can be frustrating.

I immediately typed “screen” into the terminal and got a message alerting me to the fact that it wasn’t installed and, as Ubuntu as really good at, let me know of several packages that I could install that contained screen. One of those packages had no mention of the actual screen software. It was byobu. Curious, I Googled the term and found out that it is screen, but on crack!

My default terminal window in Ubuntu

My default terminal window in Ubuntu

*BTW, it’s been such a long time since I’ve screenshot anything in Ubuntu I had to Google it!

What is Byobu? Well, their homepage sums it up perfectly!

Byobu is a GPLv3 open source text-based window manager and terminal multiplexer. It was originally designed to provide elegant enhancements to the otherwise functional, plain, practical GNU Screen, for the Ubuntu server distribution. Byobu now includes an enhanced profiles, convenient keybindings, configuration utilities, and toggle-able system status notifications for both the GNU Screen window manager and the more modern Tmux terminal multiplexer, and works on most Linux, BSD, and Mac distributions.

When I first started using screen I had to dig through posts or ask my Unix guru of a buddy to get a hold of a good .screenrc file. Everyone, of course, had their own methods of switching windows or determining what data was valuable to show on the screen. My absolutely favorite thing is the out-of-box configuration of Byobu.

All of the function keys power the options. Pressing F9 pops up a menu that lets you configure Byobu. You can easily get a good idea of what key does what or you can change them to your liking.

I’ve been planning on putting together a Ubuntu server machine to run Apache and SAMBA4. As soon as the install finishes I’ll be running apt-get for this package!

About Mike

I'm a software engineer. Look into the about page for more information about me.
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