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I've seen a lot of terminal emulators as a programmer - PuTTy, Gnome Terminal, KDE Konsole, Terminal.app, iTerm, etc.

Someone showed me an 'xterm' for the first time today. I've used these other terminals extensively, but I'm curious as to what unique advantages or features that 'xterm' would offer over any other terminal emulator. That is, what can it do that other terminal emulators can't?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by nhinkle Oct 25 '13 at 21:56

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4 Answers 4

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It's going to be more xterm compatible than any xterm-compatible terminal. It's more likely to pass vttest. Run that and see how many tests your favorite terminal passes. Also, see this for some comments on various terminals.

According to Wikipedia, "Most terminal emulators for X started as variations on xterm."

So, I would say its chief advantage is compatibility.

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xterm is universal and it will be available in any X11 installation. It is functional (even including things you will never use, such as Tektronix mode), but mostly bare-bones. It doesn't deal with things you might expect from Gnome Terminal like transparent backgrounds.

You can think of choosing between xterm and the things you list similar to how you might choose between /usr/ucb/vi (classic vi) versus vi variants like vim, nvi, elvis, M-x viper-mode.

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For me, it's about low weight. Very minimal interface, and just gets out of your way. I run Konsole for most things, but for some windows that I need to just have open and check on every once in a while, I'll run in an XTerm, Ctrl-right click and make the font Tiny.

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You can duplicate the terminals easily without wanting to login in again and again

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Can you expand on this? One-line answers generally get negative responses and aren't very helpful. –  Moses Oct 25 '13 at 20:43

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