‘tmux’ is a seemingly small program that attempts to turn a terminal console into a text-only window manager. It’s called tmux because it’s a terminal multiplexer - it can show multiple shells in a single terminal window.

It’s sole purpose appears to be to train developers to curse because it requires a ctrl-b keypress before any command, and this then cause serious brain damage and fits of violent behaviour when switching between that most ubquitious of editors, Vi, and shell consoles.

The reason this is so unpleasant to use is modality of the command structures - it’s just too much cognitive effort to know when to type ctrl-b before something, or after, or not at all. Combine this with the ‘command mode’ in Vi where you’re hitting Escape or colon all the time and it’s just confusing and frustrating. Forget Emacs, it’s even worse - ctrl-b? ctrl-x? Derp. This is without even considering conflicts and clashes of control schemes.

That said, if you really must and you have good reason to use tmux, go for it. Ultimately though, you’ll probably be pining for xmonad instead, which is both easier to use and can display graphical applications.

The only edge case I could really come up with is either detaching sessions (which is better dealt with using ‘screen’) or for making text-only consoles to display stats. It might also be useful if you have to do multi-hop SSH, or if you are limited with regard to the number of connections you can make.

You can find tmux here:

Key bindings in tmux

‘tmux’ is controlled using a key combination of a prefix key, ‘C-b’ (Ctrl-b) by default, followed by a command key.

What this means is to do anything, you have to hit Ctrl-b first, then the command key.

The default command key bindings are:

C-b Send the prefix key (C-b) through to the application.

C-o Rotate the panes in the current window forwards.

C-z Suspend the tmux client.

! Break the current pane out of the window.

" Split the current pane into two, top and bottom.

# List all paste buffers.

$ Rename the current session.

\% Split the current pane into two, left and right.

& Kill the current window.

’ Prompt for a window index to select.

( Switch the attached client to the previous session.

) Switch the attached client to the next session.

, Rename the current window.

- Delete the most recently copied buffer of text.

. Prompt for an index to move the current window.

0 to 9 Select windows 0 to 9.

Enter the tmux command prompt.

; Move to the previously active pane.

= Choose which buffer to paste interactively from a list.

? List all key bindings.

D Choose a client to detach.

L Switch the attached client back to the last session.

[ Enter copy mode to copy text or view the history.

] Paste the most recently copied buffer of text.

c Create a new window.

d Detach the current client.

f Prompt to search for text in open windows.

i Display some information about the current window.

l Move to the previously selected window.

n Change to the next window.

o Select the next pane in the current window.

p Change to the previous window.

q Briefly display pane indexes.

r Force redraw of the attached client.

m Mark the current pane (see select-pane -m).

M Clear the marked pane.

s Select a new session for the attached client interactively.

t Show the time.

w Choose the current window interactively.

x Kill the current pane.

z Toggle zoom state of the current pane.

Swap the current pane with the previous pane.

Swap the current pane with the next pane.

  Show previous messages from tmux, if any.

Page Up Enter copy mode and scroll one page up.

Up, Down Left, Right Change to the pane above, below, to the left, or to the right of the current pane.

M-1 to M-5 Arrange panes in one of the five preset layouts: even-horizontal, even-vertical, main-horizontal, main-vertical, or tiled.

Space Arrange the current window in the next preset layout.

M-n Move to the next window with a bell or activity marker.

M-o Rotate the panes in the current window backwards.

M-p Move to the previous window with a bell or activity marker.

C-Up, C-Down C-Left, C-Right Resize the current pane in steps of one cell.

M-Up, M-Down M-Left, M-Right Resize the current pane in steps of five cells. Key bindings may be changed with the bind-key and unbind-key commands.