Monday, June 1, 2015

Finding That Sweet Spot: Focus On Guake

One of the things I do quite often is go to a terminal, do some short command or two, then close the terminal. I do this away from my coding terminal as I don't want to contaminate bash history with those commands, mainly because I do a lot of repetitive things [1].

The application I use for such things is Guake, a great little popup terminal application that gives me exactly what I need: a simple terminal that I can show and hide without having to launch a new app. It's available on pretty much all Linux distros, so I don't think I need to tell you how to get it on your system.

The way I have Guake configured is to popup up as a small window (50% width, 50% height) at the center bottom of my current display (on my two-monitor desktop it follows the mouse pointer).


I like to have my desktop be visually appealing since I spend so much time in front of it, so I've played with various colors, layouts, etc. to get things just right. And for me, what I have now works well.

Placement shows the terminal the currently active desktop (the one where my mouse is at the time), and it pops up on top and stays on top of any other application. I have the transparency of the window set to about 15% or so to allow me to see through the window: this way I can read something on my browser or editor, for example, without having to close and re-open Guake.

To open Guake, I have F12 as my hotkey, with F11 to make it full screen. These are the default and they make perfect sense to me. Though, on my keyboards when I'm docked, F12 and Print Screen are close enough together that I will hit the latter at least once per day by mistake. So every weekend it seems I'm deleting a half dozen screen shots.... :D

The color scheme I chose is called "Hipster Green" (yeah, I hate that name too). For me I find the monochrome-like colors more visually appealing, not to mention less harsh on the eyes if I'm on my laptop in a dimly lit room [2]. I use auto-colors in ls and the monochrome color scheme fits well with it.

The option I go back and forth on is showing the tab bar. On the one hand I like to be able to quickly jump to a tab I want if it's open. But on the other hand I don't normally have more than two or three open at a time. So I hate sacrificing even that small bit of real estate. So it depends on how I'm feeling at any point whether it's enabled or not.

To open URLs that appear in the window, I've checked the Enable Quick Open when Ctrl+clicking on a filename in the terminal option (verbose, right?) on the Quick Open tab.

All in all, Guake is a great, useful tool for me to perform quick tasks from a command line without having to either pollute my primary command history with trivial little things. All in a tool that is easily launched, used, and dismissed quickly.

[1] - I will, for example, have the following three commands in my coding terminal's history:

  $ git clean -xfd && cmake all
  $ [run some test script, example app or other]

My main workflow in those cases it to build the world, run whatever I'm working on, then scroll through the output and fix things in my editor. Then I go back to the coding terminal and hit Up Up Enter, wait a second, then Up Up Enter again.

[2] - I LOVE to write code during a rain storm. Some of my favorite times have been to sit on the couch in my office at home while it's pouring rain out and work on code to the soothing sounds of rainfall.

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