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Why I Use Screen

irssi_centericq.pngI've blogged about GNU screen on many an occasion. I'm not going to go into the technical reasons why I use it, but rather, the personal.

First off, I am in love with the terminal. I am of the opinion that if you want to get into Linux, regardless of your operating system, you better get familiar with the terminal. It's not going away, and no matter how much point-and-click Linux window managers get, the terminal will still be used with tools that you just can't replace or forget about. It will always be there when everything else fails. It's either swim or sink. Your call.

So, with that passion that I have for the terminal, I have a couple programs that I run exclusively in the terminal. Those are irssi, the IRC client of the future, and centericq, one solid multi-protocol IM client. I run both of those programs under the same screen session. I have played with mutt in screen, and even elinks, but I just keep going back to the GUI for my web and email needs. Here's why I keep irssi and centericq in screen:

I want to be immediately available, in case anyone needs me. Whether it be in #ubuntu-utah, #ubuntu-us, any US team channel that I'm mentoring, or on Jabber. If someone needs me, I want to be there, even if I'm not physically at my desktop. Irssi and centericq, coupled with GNU screen allow me to do this. When I'm away, someone can still leave me a message, just as they would with voice mail.

When it comes to web browsing, email, or other applications, I only need the tools when I need them. There is no reason to keep them in screen for me, as they aren't seeking me out. Sure, I keep the occasional vim session in screen when working on a project, but not always. Again, there isn't anything in or from vim that needs me, rather, it me that needs vim.

A couple other great terminal-based clients for IRC would be BitchX, epic and WeeChat (my 2nd favorite IRC client) while gaim-text and bitlbee are great for terminal-based multi-protocol IM (bitlbee actually being an IM client through an IRC gateway using any IRC client- it's just usually paired with irssi).

So, there you have it. I'm perfectly happy with my hybrid marriage between GUI and CLI applications. The idea is online presence and availability. I would highly recommend that you give both of them a try.

{ 3 } Comments

  1. Marius Gedminas | May 16, 2007 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Heh. I use Mutt for all my e-mail needs. I've played with irssi a couple of times, but I always go back to the GUI for my IRC needs 🙂

  2. TuxGirl | May 16, 2007 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    The main reasons for keeping vim open in screen are:
    A) you have a *ton* of files open in one instance and they're scattered all over and all relevant to your current project
    B) you want to hold onto your undo history
    i've found that recently, i've been using vim in screen over gvim for those reasons.
    I haven't played too much with text-based IM clients, but gaim, firefox (links is geeky, but really sucks for most uses) and xmms are really the only non-gui apps that I use on a semi-regular basis... everything else, i generally use the terminal for.

  3. Brian Zhou | May 19, 2007 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I'm using the combination of vncserver + ion3 wm + screen for years. This adds more client independence. And I can switch among machines like I can switch among screens.

    For IRC, irssi provides proxy feature, so you can connect to the session from any GUI client you like. There're also dedicated simple IRC proxies (aka bouncer) available.

    If you like terminal, you may like to check out

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