Lightest terminal: urxvt in daemon/client mode?

Thinkpad 600EI still use an old IBM Thinkpad 600E that I bought second hand a decade ago.

It still works. Well, the battery is dead, I added RAM as much as the motherboard can handle (2x 128 MB DIMM modules + 50 MB onboard module – something like that) and I changed, several years ago, the hard-drive, replacing the stock one with a more recent rescued from a short-lived Acer Aspire that belonged to my brother.

It still works. Sure, it is subject to bugs that will probably never get fixed, but none that you can’t work around.

It still works. But… But it is not a very fast computer however. It is not really that it runs slower than in the past. It is not really that we get used to faster computer. The fact is that software developers have not much reasons to write code light enough to run smoothly on this old piece of junk. So they don’t, most of them.

You end up running obsolete software or be very glad to find pieces of software like Midori (lightweight webbrowser based on WebKit).

Yes, yes, I will get to the point.

The point is whatever you can get can make a difference. I tried to run dash instead of bash. Bleua. That’s fine for scripts. But I cannot live with no completion at all. So I stayed with the Bourne Again Shell. But I had to cut of most of completions (how now, the endless scripts in /etc/bash_completion.d) to avoid waiting hours to get a shell to start.

So here comes urxvt. urxvt is fast. Like aterm. But it supports UTF-8. And it matters.
But the really nice thing is that urvxt includes a daemon/client mode. You just have to start the daemon at the begin of the X session, for instand in having the following in ~/.xsession :

#!/bin/dash
# terminal daemon
urxvtd -q -f -o
# desktop
export BROWSER=midori
wmaker

Then, everytime you need a terminal, call uxrvtc instead of urxvt.

You might also want to add in ~/.Xdefaults something like:

Rxvt*background: gray23
Rxvt*foreground: white
Rxvt*troughColor: gray33
Rxvt*scrollColor: gray13
Rxvt*scrollstyle: plain

Rxvt*visualBell: true
Rxvt*saveLines: 2000
Rxvt*urlLauncher: midori
Rxvt*scrollTtyOutput: false
Rxvt*scrollWithBuffer: true

Rxvt*color12: SkyBlue2

There are no real-life drawbacks that I encountered so far.

March 9, 2010 Update: After reading interesting test about terms perfs (in french) which shows how slow xterm is, how fast konsole is, but how fast and with less memory usage urxvt is, I even started using urxvt on my usual workstation that runs KDE with the following .Xdefaults (here, we use transparency and font anti-aliasing, as the hardware can obviously handle it)

urxvt*visualBell: true
urxvt*saveLines: 12000
urxvt*urlLauncher: konqueror
urxvt*scrollTtyOutput: false
urxvt*scrollWithBuffer: true

urxvt*depth: 32
urxvt*background: rgba:0000/0000/0000/dddd
urxvt*borderColor: rgba:0000/0000/0000/dddd
urxvt*foreground: white

urxvt*troughColor: gray33
urxvt*scrollColor: rgba:0000/0000/0000/0fff
urxvt*scrollstyle: plain
urxvt*scrollBar_right: true

urxvt*font: xft:Bitstream Vera Sans Mono:style=Regular:pixelsize=13:antialias=true
urxvt*color12: SkyBlue2

I even added the following as /etc/X11/Xsession.d/74urxvtd_start


# In order to activate urxvt daemon at X session launch
# simply place use-urxvtd into your /etc/X11/Xsession.options file

URXVTD=/usr/bin/urxvtd
URXVTD_OPTIONS="-q -f -o"

if grep -qs ^use-urxvtd "$OPTIONFILE"; then
if [ -x "$URXVTD" ]; then
$URXVTD $URXVTD_OPTIONS
fi
fi

and added the string use-urxvtd in /etc/X11/Xsession.options but that’s a bit overkill as debian already provides urxvtcd that fires up urxvtc while making sure urxwtd is running.

4 thoughts on “Lightest terminal: urxvt in daemon/client mode?

  1. Have you run across pdksh since writing this? It’s much lighter than bash and takes about twice as much memory as dash (still 1/5th of bash) but gives you completion and history. I use it as my login shell on tiny Debian VPS installs to save resources.

  2. Thanks for the input.
    No I haven’t tried pdksh. Actually I rarely use this laptop nowadays, and moved it to slitaz because even the lightest debian started to feel bloated.
    I’ll try it!

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