Archwiki is Awesome

I've used Linux since 1996, and in that time I've used multiple distros. These days, I've mostly settled on Fedora and Debian, I've never used Arch in all these years. But in 25 years of searching for documentation, I've started to get some sense of what sources are reliable and worth checking when they come up in the search engine, and Archwiki has been one the most consistent and excellent documentation sources for Linux, anywhere.

Let's look at this weekend's example. I'm a hard-core terminal user, and have struggled to find a terminal that I was happy with. I want it to be:

  • relatively light-weight (not take up much memory)
  • have limited decorations
  • have no added toolbars, or at least they should be removable

This seems fairly simple, and for almost my entire Linux career I've been using xterm (which is way too old-school for most people). I use X's highlight, then middle-click to paste ... but on a lot of recent laptops this is problematic as there's no middle button (pressing both mouse/touchpad buttons at once usually works, but gets more difficult every year as the buttons are more integrated into the touchpad itself ... and some touchpads don't make triple-finger-tap easy). So I've been using other terminals that allow Shift-Control-C and Shift-Control-V (equivalent to Windows' Control-C and Control-V). This behaviour is entirely unsupported by xterm. But I don't like those other terminals, they're too big, they have annoying extra task bars, etc. This led me back to the very old RXVT, in a relatively recent incarnation: "rxvt-unicode" or urxvt. It doesn't support Shift-Control-C out of the box, but it can be done like this in your ~/.Xresources file:

! Enable Shift-Control copy-paste commands:
URxvt.keysym.Shift-Control-V: eval:paste_clipboard
URxvt.keysym.Shift-Control-C: eval:selection_to_clipboard
! Disable URxvt original copy-paste commands:
URxvt.keysym.Control-Meta-c: builtin-string:
URxvt.keysym.Control-Meta-v: builtin-string:

And I can set my preferred font:

URxvt.font:xft:Droid Sans Mono Slashed for Powerline:pixelsize=14

I started setting up urxvt on several machines, but ran into a nasty problem on some of them: the kerning looked like crap. (Technically, this is the wrong terminology: "kerning" involves characters overlapping each other's non-printing space ... what's happening in urxvt is simply a spacing issue.) The characters were too far apart and it looked weird. I gritted my teeth and continued running with urxvt.

Today I ended up on Archwiki's entry on rxvt-unicode looking for another setting, and found this statement: "By default the distance between characters can feel too wide." No shit - but they have an answer!:

! reduce the character spacing by one pixel
URxvt.letterSpace: -1

Can I have a "Hallelujah?!" So now the terminal looks better ... and is roughly 90px narrower to boot.

I've lost track of how many times Archwiki has saved me in small ways and large. Thank you so much.