Daniel Siepmann - Coding is Art

Blog Post


Published: , Updated:

Topics: unix


Tmux is a nice tool. Most people already know screen, and tmux is like screen a terminal multiplexer.

A terminal multiplexer is a software application that can be used to multiplex several virtual consoles, allowing a user to access multiple separate login sessions inside a single terminal window, or detach and reattach sessions from a terminal.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminal_multiplexer

Figure i12 shows my terminal with tmux on a typical sphinx session. In the left I’m editing the documentation while I take a look at some code on the right and have the repository of the sphinx project also on the right.

Figure i12: Demonstrates an example setup with Tmux.

What’s it all about?

So tmux allows you to have multiple session in one terminal window. The nice thing about that is, that you can open a tmux session on a server and disconnect from the server. Once you want to work on the server again, you just can attach to the tmux session again and don’t need to start again. E.g. if you have a shared ssh access and everyone loves his own setup with aliases, prompts, etc.

It’s also handy to work on one project, detach, start another one, and reattach to the one before without the need to setup all the stuff again.

The awesomeness (scripting)

Also tmux is scriptable, that will look like this:


# Author: Daniel Siepmann
# This script will create a new tmux session (or attach existing)
# for developing sphinx projects.

# Initialize some variables

# Only create session if not already exists
tmux has-session -t "$session"
if [ $? != 0 ]
    if [[ ! -d "$editorPath" ]]; then
    if [[ ! -f "$makePath/Makefile" ]]; then

    # Open editor
    tmux new-session -s "$session" -n editor -d
    tmux send-keys -t "$session" "cd $editorPath" C-m
    tmux send-keys -t "$session" 'vim' C-m

    # Open shell (e.g. for commit)
    tmux split-window -h
    tmux send-keys "cd $editorPath" C-m
    tmux send-keys "git status" C-m

    # Open compile window with auto watch
    tmux split-window -v
    tmux resize-pane -y 5
    tmux send-keys "cd $makePath" C-m
    tmux send-keys "make livehtml" C-m

    # To switch to shell when moving to the right out of editor
    tmux select-pane -t 1
    # Activate editor
    tmux select-pane -t 0
# Attach to existing or created session
tmux attach -t "$session"

Calling this shell script will start a new tmux session right setup for my needs with my text editor open inside the project, the shell beside (e.g. for git commits) and the project auto build using make livehtml.

My current setup has three different tmux scripts, one for working on customer projects with setup ssh to staging and production. The one from above to work on sphinx documentations. And another default one for the rest.

That way I’ll start working on a project in no time, can switch between multiple projects with ease and once I’m disrupted and have to look up something in another project I can switch back to the project before.


tmux is nice for working remote on servers (where it is installed) and for working on structured projects.

At least try it out, it’s most likely pre installed in an older version.

Take a look at the configuration options to adjust it to your needs, and get into the scripting.

Further reading

Attach to remote tmux session:

ssh <remote host> -t tmux attach-session

Some further reading:

Some options to set inside your ~/.tmux.conf:

# reload ~/.tmux.conf using PREFIX r
bind r source-file ~/.tmux.conf \; display "Reloaded!"

# split window and fix path
bind % split-window -h -c "#{pane_current_path}"
# Find how to remap double quote sign
bind '"' split-window -v -c "#{pane_current_path}"

# Use hjkl to switch between panes:
unbind-key j
bind-key j select-pane -D
unbind-key k
bind-key k select-pane -U
unbind-key h
bind-key h select-pane -L
unbind-key l
bind-key l select-pane -R

# Allow resize of panes using vim like bindings
bind -r H resize-pane -L 5
bind -r J resize-pane -D 5
bind -r K resize-pane -U 5
bind -r L resize-pane -R 5

bind-key | kill-session
# Respawn the pane, kill running process and restart
bind-key R respawn-pane -k
# Senct CTRL+c, clear history for bash and tmux