28 December 2009

dvtm - a console based tiled window manager

In my last post, I outlined how to do some form of rudimentary multitasking in Bash, but I was still not satisfied. Further research showed that there would be no way around a terminal multiplexer, however screen sucks for me due to its steep and unintuitive learning curve. On K.Mandla's great blog I found the solution: dvtm, a very lightweight tiled window manager for the console. Its beauty lies in that it occupies just around 100k of disk space, does not hog the memory and does not try to accomplish more than it is supposed to.

Becoming familiar with dvtm is a matter of minutes. Install the package from your distribution repositories, go to a console or open an xterm, then input dvtm. You will see Bash within a blue frame. The blue frame indicates that this is the active window. Now press CTRL-G C (press CTRL-G, release the keys, then type a C). A new Bash window pops open next to the existing one and becomes the active window. You can close that window by either logging out of that instance (input exit or press CTRL-D), or by pressing CTRL-G X.

With multiple windows open, you can input CTRL-G <number> to activate window <number> (as designated by its "title bar" text), or CTRL-G J / CTRL-G K to activate the next/previous window. CTRL-G . minimizes or unminimizes the active window. CTRL-G M maximizes the active window. Use CTRL-G SPACE to toggle between grid layouts; this is also the only way to unmaximize a window. CTRL-G ENTER moves the active window in and out of the "master area", which is usually the tile of the biggest size. Finally, dvtm can be left by means of CTRL-G Q, or logging off all hosted shells.

If you need a lightweight multi-window shell environment, dvtm should be surely worth checking out.

1 comment:

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