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October 28, 2009

Slick Linux Virtual Terminal: aterm

by @ 1:32 am. Filed under command-line, Linux tips, SUSE Tips & Tricks, terminal

In the search for a full weight loss program for my window manager (I’m switching from KDE 3.5 to XFCE4), it became clear that another terminal would have to replace Konsole. After 11 full minutes of considerable thought, agonizing contemplation, deliberation and extensive research, aterm became the obvious choice.

aterm looked interesting to me because it has a small memory footprint. Konqueror takes up about 7 times the RAM that aterm does, while xterm takes over twice the RAM that aterm does. aterm also has very little dependencies. Additionally, it supports pseudo-transparencies, while remaining very responsive and quick.

The first thing you want to do is install aterm. This does not appear to be available on OpenSUSE 11.1 by default. But just add the following repo:

Add the repo as root like this:

[1049][root@laptop:~]$ zypper addrepo aterm
Adding repository 'aterm' [done]
Repository 'aterm' successfully added
Enabled: Yes
Autorefresh: No


Refresh the repo:

[1049][root@laptop:~]$ zypper refresh aterm
Retrieving repository 'aterm' metadata [done]
Building repository 'aterm' cache [done]
Specified repositories have been refreshed.

Install aterm:

[1112][root@dev:/home/scott]$ zypper install aterm
Loading repository data...
Reading installed packages...
Resolving package dependencies...

The following NEW package is going to be installed:

Overall download size: 310.0 K. After the operation, additional 1.1 M will be used.
Continue? [YES/no]: 
Retrieving package AfterStep_applets_all-070412-5.13.x86_64 (1/1), 310.0 K (1.1 M unpacked)
Retrieving: AfterStep_applets_all-070412-5.13.x86_64.rpm [done]         
Installing: AfterStep_applets_all-070412-5.13 [done]

Now, run aterm in a terminal window or something to make sure it’s installed.

On to the configuration (which is the cool part, really).

First, determine which font you want to use by running xfontsel. It opens up a window where you can fine-tune the font you want aterm to use.

Then, you’ll want to set up your configuration file. I use .Xresources although there are others you can use.

Copy and paste this into your .Xresources file, and then adjust as necessary:

aterm*font: -*-fixed-medium-r-*-*-18-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-*
aterm*font1: -*-*-*-*-*-*-2-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
aterm*font2: -misc-fixed-*-r-normal-*-8-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-*
aterm*font3: -b&h-lucidatypewriter-bold-*-*-*-12-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
aterm*font4: -*-screen-bold-r-normal-*-16-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-*
aterm*font5: -*-lucidatypewriter-medium-*-*-*-18-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
aterm*font6: -*-lucidatypewriter-medium-*-*-*-20-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
aterm*font7: -dec-terminal-bold-r-normal-*-14-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-*

aterm*background: black
aterm*foreground: white
aterm*pointerColor: red
aterm*pointerColorBackground: black
aterm*cursorColor: blue
aterm*internalBorder: 3
aterm*loginShell: true

! Do you want a scrollbar?
aterm*scrollBar: true
aterm*scrollKey: true

! How many lines do you want to save in the buffer?
aterm*saveLines: 32767
aterm*multiClickTime: 250

! Do you want transparency?
aterm*transparent: true

! Do you want transparency in the scrollbar?
aterm*transpscrollbar: true

! How much transparency do you want (in percent)?

!aterm*tintingType: true
!aterm*tinting: #a07040

! How many characters wide and tall should your window be?
aterm*geometry: 80x40

! Do you want a visual bell rather than an audio bell?
aterm*visualBell: true

Hopefully, it’s apparent that you can use exclamation points for comments.

Everything in this sample .Xresources config file should be fairly self-explanatory.

aterm takes many of the same configuration directives as xterm. So if you see an xterm directive you want aterm to use, throw it in the .Xresources file and reload it. You reload the .Xresources file with the following command:

[1058][scott@dev:~]$ xrdb -merge .Xresources

If you are running that command in an open aterm window, you will have to close the window and re-run aterm.

aterm is very quick and responsive, looks nice, and doesn’t take up too much memory. Take a look at it, play around with it, and enjoy it.

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