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Installing and using tmux in Slackware

tmux is a terminal multiplexer. It enables a number of terminals (or windows) to be accessed and controlled from a single terminal. It is intended to be a simple, modern, BSD-licensed alternative to programs such as GNU Screen.

tmux uses a client-server model. The server holds multiple sessions and each window is an independent entity which may be freely linked to multiple sessions, moved between sessions and otherwise manipulated. Each session may be attached to (display and accept keyboard input from) multiple clients. Major features include:

  • A powerful, consistent, well-documented and easily scriptable command interface.
  • A window may be split horizontally and vertically into panes.
  • Panes can be freely moved and resized, or arranged into preset layouts.
  • Support for UTF-8 and 256-colour terminals.
  • Copy and paste with multiple buffers.
  • Interactive menus to select windows, sessions or clients.
  • Change the current window by searching for text in the target.
  • Terminal locking, manually or after a timeout.
  • A clean, easily extended, BSD-licensed codebase, under active development.


A tmux SlackBuild is available at your favorite SlackBuilds repository. The installation is pretty straightforward. First, make sure all the dependencies are installed (at the time of this writing, libevent is the only dependency). Download the SlackBuild archive for tmux, extract it in your build environment. Next, download the source of tmux from their website and place it in the extracted directory. Run the script ./tmux.SlackBuild and finally use installpkg to install the finished package that should be located in /tmp. You can consider sbopkg as a helper tool for installing the SlackBuild.


You can configure tmux through a user specific configuration file, ~/.tmux.conf, or a system configuration file, /etc/tmux.conf. Sample configuration files are available in /usr/share/doc/tmux-X.X/examples/, where X.X depends on the version of tmux you installed. You might find just what you need in there.
Tmux is very flexible and the ability to customize its behavior through scripting is pretty neat. This is a tmux screenshot showing four panes:

The tmux man page is pretty extensive and has very good documentation for those of us enjoying heavy customization. If you have used GNU Screen before, you must be familiar with the concept of prefix key: the same concept applies to tmux. It is a combination of keys you use to control tmux from an attached client. In GNU Screen, the default prefix key is Ctrl+A while tmux has Ctrl+B as default prefix. So, for users with long term GNU Screen addiction, you can redefine tmux prefix by adding the command below to your configuration file ~/.tmux.conf:

set -g prefix Ctrl-a 

Few tmux key bindings:

  • Ctrl+B C Create a new window.
  • Ctrl+B D Detach the current client.
  • Ctrl+B & Kill the current window.
  • Ctrl+B % Split the current window vertically into two panes.
  • Ctrl+B Split the current window horizontally into two panes.
  • Ctrl+B O Select the next pane in the current window.
  • Ctrl+B { Swap the current pane with the previous pane.
  • Ctrl+B } Swap the current pane with the next pane.
  • Ctrl+B ? List all key bindings.

The tmux man page contains more detailed information about tmux usage and customization. It has every thing to get you started.


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