Termite Has Been Deprecated

(May 8, 2021)

I have been using termite as my daily driver terminal emulator for over five years now. Turns out that its creator and maintainer just announced that he's stopping development and abandoning the project. The reason? Alacritty, another terminal emulator, by termite maintainer's own judgment, is basically strictly better.

My main reasons for using termite were its minimalistic design, keyboard-driven, vi-like selection mode, and easy configuration. Alacritty, turns out, does all of these, while also being faster and more secure.

Switching to alacritty

On first hearing this, I immediately installed alacritty, just to check out if it really is a viable option for me. Before the installation completed, my first instinct was that I would have probably needed about a week or so to tweak my config and get used to the interface. I was expecting some switching friction.

Turns out there was zero friction. After 5 minutes of test running, I'd set alacritty to be my default terminal. I'm writing this post from inside it, and I don't even notice the difference, other than a slightly darker default color scheme. The vi-like selection mode is still at the familiar ctrl+shift+space keybinding, and it seems like that was the biggest termite-specific feature I was used to.

If anything, I'm already seeing big improvements when compared to termite. Specifically, the vi mode in termite had slight annoying issues: jumping by word didn't always work exactly the way I expected it to, and when copying selected text, the cursor actually had to be one character right of the last character you wanted to copy. I'm not seeing these issues with alacritty's vi mode, and so far it feels even more intuitive than termite's.

Bonus tip: terminal vs. ssh

On the occasion of getting a new terminal, I'm reminded of a very useful blogpost by Yaroslav de la Peña Smirnov thanks to which I solved a mild annoyance I've had with termite for years. Basically, when logging into an ssh session on various machines from termite, I would have weird problems in the shell, the remote machine apparently not understanding how to communicate properly with my terminal. This would make commands like clear or tmux not work, or even more annoyingly, cursor navigation and erasing characters with backspace were broken.

Previously, I had fixed this by hacking environment variables, but you can solve it much more cleanly with the following:

# on your local machine:
infocmp $TERM > $TERM.terminfo
scp $TERM.terminfo <remote machine>:~/

# on remote machine:
tic -x $TERM.terminfo

I had to repeat this little ritual with alacritty and the remote machines I frequent, and now everything is working smoothly!

If you have any questions or comments about this post or site in general, feel free to email me.