TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Mac in the Shell: Leopard Terminal.app: Create Your Workspace

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Mac in the Shell

Leopard Terminal.app: Create Your Workspace

Have all the comforts of ~

by Edward Marczak

Introduction

Of all the new features that Leopard brings, one might not think that there could be excitement about Terminal.app. One would be wrong. Along with many others, Terminal.app is my primary interface to the system. Yes, I use applications like Word and Mail.app, of course, but the bulk of the time, I'm looking at a green blinking cursor on a semi-transparent black background. I know I don't have to extol the virtues of shell-mastery any more - you've read that enough in this column. However, OS X 10.5, "Leopard," updates Terminal.app in some nice ways. Let's look at the changes, and then ways to customize your workspace so you're making your environment work for you, not against you.

In the Beginning was the Command Line

Perhaps the easiest thing to point out is that Terminal.app has a new icon. It's amazing how jazzed we can all get over an application's icon, but that's just part of the Mac way, I suppose.


Figure 1 - New Terminal.app icon

It works nicely with the other interface changes in Leopard: a little flatter, but much more stylized.

If you've performed a clean install - which, by the way, I'm a huge advocate of for major releases - and you're not using previous preference files, launch Terminal.app from the Utilities folder and you'll see a default terminal.


Figure 2 - a console window in its default state.

Well, OK...a little bland, perhaps. Nor will 80x25 cut it in most cases. So, let's start with the easy stuff. Stretch that window out and position it on-screen where it best suits you. I like virtual pagers, like Spaces and VirtueDesktops, so, I highly recommend that Terminal gets its own screen. You may also want multiple terminals open at once, and I'll touch on that a bit more later, but suffice it to say, I basically never have less than 9 VTs open at once on my local machine.

Also easy: if you're familiar with Terminal.app already, you won't be lost. Some of the prefs take a minute to absorb, and some items have simply been renamed (gone is "Connect to Server..." replaced with "New Remote Connection...").

A cry for sanity in our silent night of madness

One Mac In The Shell column that has generated a good deal of feedback had screen as its topic. One of Terminal.app's new features happens to be tabs, and most people would think that would do away with screen. Not a chance.

If you're in love with tabs, you probably have been using iTerm or Terminator to satiate your needs. Basically, tabbed terminals have existed for OS X, so, this is catch up for Terminal.app. It's a nice addition nonetheless.

Now, I was the first one that thought I'd just ignore tabs in Terminal.app. I already use screen, right? Turns out, I find them both useful. (If you need a refresher on screen, check out my original article which now appears on-line at http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.21/21.09/Screen/index.html).

Creating a new tab is as simple as Apple-t, which gives you a new tab in the current window with the default scheme. Or, mouse about to the Shell menu, choose "New Tab", and choose the scheme you'd like. Thankfully, we can change tabs with the same key commands available for tabs in Safari - Apple-Shift-} and Apple-Shift-{. (This goes for tabs in iChat, now, too). So, if your muscle memory is built up like mine, this is a nice addition.

Once any window - tabbed or not - is created, pull up the window inspector using Apple-I, or Shell->Show Inspector to change the properties of an existing window (more detail on Inspector later). See Figure 3 for a look at the Inspector itself, with its settings tab open.

I have screen give me 7 VTs at terminal start, and now, one terminal window gives me a two tabs. Why stick with screen? First, screen is less resource hungry than Terminal.app's tabs. Allocating a new bash shell under screen just pops up my memory usage by 800k or so. Each Terminal.app tab takes up about 1.5MB. Why the heck am I concerned about this in the age of multi-Gigabyte machines? Well, perhaps, that's just what I do. Plus, despite the 4GB of RAM that my machine has, it still gets strained while running other apps, virtualization and yes, Warcraft (I can quit anytime. Really). So, that memory counts!

Also, when shelling into a remote machine, I typically still have screen at my disposal, and can just fire up a remote screen session. It seems a bit wasteful to open up many local tabs and ssh each one of those to the same remote host. Finally, screen is just wired into my fingers, so, I stick with it for that and its other nice tricks (and I get to take my .screenrc file to my new home directory and have everything work as expected - what could be better?).


Figure 3 - Terminal tabs and the Inspector window floating over.

the color of television, tuned to a dead channel

Everyone has their own idea of what a perfect terminal screen should look like. Me? I like the 'classic' look of green (or even amber) on black. That's just the way it was. But I also have a 'classic' Commodore 64 looking terminal (blue on blue). While this may seem trivial at first, you're going to be staring at these screens a lot. Also, you're going to need to pick out text from the rest of the clutter on screen. So, find a color scheme that you like and a font that suits you. This has been made easier with the current incarnation of Terminal.app.


Figure 4 - Preferences and Color Picker

While slightly confusing at first, the new preferences really are simplified. Gone are the separate "Preferences" and "Window Settings" menu choices. Now, all 'preferences' are consolidated. Colors, fonts, window sizes and more can be found under the "Settings" group. You can easily define groups of styles that you like and save them for future use, and even export the settings for your or other's use.

One exceptionally nice touch is that if you have a saved terminal definition from, oh, you know, the Tiger days, just double-click it. Not only will you be looking at your familiar terminal, but Terminal.app 2 will import the setting, making it easily called up in the future. To this I say, thankyouverymuch!

Additionally, if you like to have multiple terminal windows open at the same time, the new Window Groups feature is a blessing. All you have to do is get your terminals arranged as you like them: color, fonts, size and position. Then, that can be saved as a Window Group. Simply use the "Save as Window Group..." menu item from the Window menu, or, add it with the "+" button in the Window Group section in Preferences.


Figure 5 - Saved Window Groups

Finally, you can choose a Window Group to appear when you launch Terminal.app. What a fantastic feature!

As far as all of the other Terminal.app accoutrements that you've gotten accustomed to, they're all still there. For anyone in love with Transparency, take note where the opacity slider has moved to. Interestingly, this lets you set opacity on any color element, including text and your highlight color. In other words, you can either end up with something very cool looking, or something that impossible to read!

It is by will alone I set my mind in motion

What else has changed? There is one topic I haven't covered before in this column that I've had some people ask me about recently. Back in the day, when we would be talking about physical terminals, the host system had to know the terminal's capabilities. The terminal that you were using possibly had a real, hardware limit on how many columns it could display, if it supported color or blinking text, graphic support, etc. Ultimately, each terminal's capabilities got catalogued and placed into the termcap database. Fast forward to a contemporary setup, and termcap has become terminfo. Same idea, different name. Figure 6 shows where in Preferences->Settings we declare which terminal type we're emulating (what we're pretending to be).


Figure 6 - Declaring our terminal type

Interestingly, if we're running screen - I use it as my shell - we get a terminal type of screen. There also happens to be a terminfo entry for screen, declaring the capabilities your terminal will have.

Ever notice how after looking at a man page, or say, after using vi, you get the contents of your terminal back. Just like you had never run man or vi? Other programs will do this for you, too. Some physical terminals had an alternate screen buffer that apps are directed to, and when they quit, the main buffer is swapped back in. The xterm-color terminal in OS X mimics that. So, you're poking around the filesystem using cd and ls nad find a text file that you need to edit. Your terminal window is littered with browsing history and the prompt is at the bottom of the window. You fire up vi, edit the file, save and quit. Lo and behold, you're back where you were before editing. The scrollback buffer shows no evidence of the vi session.

screen, coincidentally, has its own scrollback buffer that overrides terminal's. So, as items scroll past the top of the window, they seem gone. Using screen's scrollback (ctrl-[ by default), you can go back through terminal output. Personally, I like my two-finger scroll, despite the mish-mash you get in the process. Apparently, many others do, to, as the first question I get from people that I turn-on to screen is, "why can't I use the scroll bar anymore?"

This is an easy one with a nice fix - "nice" meaning that you can alter the behavior for you, not touch the system defaults, and furthermore carry the change around with you in your home directory. screen lets you override the terminfo entry for a given terminal. Simply place the following line in your .screenrc file:

termcapinfo xterm* ti@:te@

Bail out of screen if it's already running and fire it up again. Use top. Go ahead. Now quit top. All of that output stays plastered all over your terminal. Beautiful, beautiful output! That line simply tells any xterm running under screen that it no longer has the capability of an alternate buffer. It basically redefines the escape codes. If more of this type of skullduggery intrigues you, start with the term(5) man page.

There's a frood who really knows where his towel is

Terminal 2 really brings some nice touches and conveniences to those of us who use a command shell as their primary interface to the system. Even if you don't use it as often as others, getting deep into the system as a developer or sysadmin means breaking out Terminal.app on more than a passing occasion. By this point, you should have a productive and attractive (to you) workspace that works with you.

Media of the month: I should probably be recommending something Leopardish. I can't just yet. But, I was in a book store (again) just the other day and realized how long it had been since I sat down and read fiction. Made up characters, made up places and made up tales. You need to be in touch with reality, but exercising creativity also ranks pretty high. If you've never ready anything by William Gibson, that's my recommendation. Find one that you like. If you've never read anything by Neil Gaiman, please, hurry to your local bookshop and pick up "American Gods" or "Neverwhere." And if you've never put eyes to paper that contains "The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy," then, run! Go now!

We're also getting close to Macworld. So close that if you haven't made your plans yet, you may be too late. Fire up your web browser, purchase tickets, your travel and hotel for this worthwhile event. Hope to see you there!


Ed Marczak is just this guy, you know? Find out why at http://www.radiotope.com

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Bookends 12.8 - Reference management and...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
Apple iTunes 12.6 - Play Apple Music and...
Apple iTunes lets you organize and stream Apple Music, download and watch video and listen to Podcasts. It can automatically download new music, app, and book purchases across all your devices and... Read more
Default Folder X 5.1.4 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more
Amazon Chime 4.1.5587 - Amazon-based com...
Amazon Chime is a communications service that transforms online meetings with a secure, easy-to-use application that you can trust. Amazon Chime works seamlessly across your devices so that you can... Read more
CrossOver 16.2 - Run Windows apps on you...
CrossOver can get your Windows productivity applications and PC games up and running on your Mac quickly and easily. CrossOver runs the Windows software that you need on Mac at home, in the office,... Read more
Adobe Creative Cloud 4.0.0.185 - Access...
Adobe Creative Cloud costs $19.99/month for a single app, or $49.99/month for the entire suite. Introducing Adobe Creative Cloud desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC... Read more
MegaSeg 6.0.2 - Professional DJ and radi...
MegaSeg is a complete solution for pro audio/video DJ mixing, radio automation, and music scheduling with rock-solid performance and an easy-to-use design. Mix with visual waveforms and Magic... Read more
Bookends 12.8 - Reference management and...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
Adobe Creative Cloud 4.0.0.185 - Access...
Adobe Creative Cloud costs $19.99/month for a single app, or $49.99/month for the entire suite. Introducing Adobe Creative Cloud desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC... Read more
Default Folder X 5.1.4 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more

The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Deals, deals, deals. We're all about a good bargain here on 148Apps, and luckily this was another fine week in App Store discounts. There's a big board game sale happening right now, and a few fine indies are still discounted through the weekend.... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week
It's been quite the week, but now that all of that business is out of the way, it's time to hunker down with some of the excellent games that were released over the past few days. There's a fair few to help you relax in your down time or if you're... | Read more »
Orphan Black: The Game (Games)
Orphan Black: The Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Dive into a dark and twisted puzzle-adventure that retells the pivotal events of Orphan Black. | Read more »
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is now availa...
| Read more »
Ticket to Earth beginner's guide: H...
Robot Circus launched Ticket to Earth as part of the App Store's indie games event last week. If you're not quite digging the space operatics Mass Effect: Andromeda is serving up, you'll be pleased to know that there's a surprising alternative on... | Read more »
Leap to victory in Nexx Studios new plat...
You’re always a hop, skip, and a jump away from a fiery death in Temple Jump, a new platformer-cum-endless runner from Nexx Studio. It’s out now on both iOS and Android if you’re an adventurer seeking treasure in a crumbling, pixel-laden temple. | Read more »
Failbetter Games details changes coming...
Sunless Sea, Failbetter Games' dark and gloomy sea explorer, sets sail for the iPad tomorrow. Ahead of the game's launch, Failbetter took to Twitter to discuss what will be different in the mobile version of the game. Many of the changes make... | Read more »
Splish, splash! The Pokémon GO Water Fes...
Niantic is back with a new festival for dedicated Pokémon GO collectors. The Water Festival officially kicks off today at 1 P.M. PDT and runs through March 29. Magikarp, Squirtle, Totodile, and their assorted evolved forms will be appearing at... | Read more »
Death Road to Canada (Games)
Death Road to Canada 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Get it now at the low launch price! Price will go up a dollar every major update. Update news at the bottom of this... | Read more »
Bean's Quest Beginner's Guide:...
Bean's Quest is a new take on both the classic platformer and the endless runner, and it's free on the App Store for the time being. Instead of running constantly, you can't stop jumping. That adds a surprising new level of challenge to the game... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

2.6GHz Mac mini on sale for $559, $140 off MS...
Guitar Center has the 2.6GHz Mac mini (MGEN2LL/A) on sale for $559 including free shipping. Their price is $140 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
SSD Speeder RAM Disk SSD Life Extender App Fo...
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based B-Eng has announced they are making their SSD Speeder app for macOS publicly available for purchase on their website. SSD Speeder is a RAM disk utility that prevents... Read more
iPhone Scores Highest Overall in Smartphone D...
Customer satisfaction is much higher among smartphone owners who use their device to operate other connected home services such as smart thermostats and smart appliances, according to the J.D. Power... Read more
Swipe CRM Free Photo-Centric CRM Sales DEal C...
Swipe CRM LLC has introduced Swipe CRM: Visual Sales 1.0 for iPad, an app for creating, managing, and sharing visually stunning sales deals. Swipe CRM is targeted to small-and-medium creative... Read more
13-inch 2.0GHz Apple MacBook Pros on sale for...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (... Read more
15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for up...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
Apple’s iPhone 6s Tops Best-Selling Smartphon...
In terms of shipments, the iPhone 6s from Apple bested all competitors for sales in 2016, according to new analysis from IHS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions.... Read more
Logitech Rugged Combo Protective iPad Case an...
Logitech has announced its Logitech Rugged Combo, Logitech Rugged Case, and Logitech Add-on Keyboard for Rugged Case for Apple’s new, more affordable $329 9.7-inch iPad, a complete solution designed... Read more
T-Mobile To Offer iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus...
T-Mobile has announced it will offer iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition in a vibrant red aluminum finish. The introduction of this special edition iPhone celebrates Apple’s 10... Read more
9-inch 128GB iPad Pros on sale for $50-$70 of...
B&H Photo has 9.7″ 128GB Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for up to $70 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 9″ Space Gray 128GB WiFi iPad Pro: $649 $50... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Fulltime aan de slag als shopmanager in een h...
Ben jij helemaal gek van Apple -producten en vind je het helemaal super om fulltime shopmanager te zijn in een jonge en hippe elektronicazaak? Wil jij werken in Read more
Starte Dein Karriere-Abenteuer in den Hauptst...
…mehrsprachigen Teams betreust Du Kunden von bekannten globale Marken wie Apple , Mercedes, Facebook, Expedia, und vielen anderen! Funktion Du wolltest schon Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Chicago...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Fulltime aan de slag als shopmanager in een h...
Ben jij helemaal gek van Apple -producten en vind je het helemaal super om fulltime shopmanager te zijn in een jonge en hippe elektronicazaak? Wil jij werken in Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.