A Look At Alacritty The OpenGL Powered Terminal Application

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
Oct 24, 2021
Linux
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There are more terminal applications for Linux systems than you can shake a stick at... And frankly, most of them are like choosing what socks to wear; very little difference, save maybe for some special purposes, like thermal socks, or tiling terminals...But, every once and a while I come across one that does things a little differently, and makes me curious to check it out further; such as Alacritty.

Right off the hop something to mention about Alacritty is that this terminal application is GPU powered, using OpenGL; which gives it a much smoother and faster appearance. Does this make it install your software faster? No...but it does look and feel very nice, for what it is. However, this isn’t the only feature of the application; other such features include:

  • Vi mode – Allows moving around Alacritty and scrollback using the keyboard with similar cursor motions to the famous text editor Vim, as well as text selection keybinds.
  • Search – Alacritty allows for searching for text within the scrollback buffer. This is accomplished using either Vi style searching or ‘normal’ searching, depending on preference for keybinds, however Vi searching allows for more free movement through the buffer.
  • Terminal Hints – Terminal hints allows easier interacting with visible text when not in Vi mode. Alacritty has various built-in actions that can be performed when Alacritty autodetects various text elements, and can also feed the texts into external applications. Hints are also able to be triggered via mouse actions by simply clicking on the text.
  • Selection expansion – Text selection can be expanded by holding CTRL, double clicking, and triple clicking, for manual, semantic, and whole line selections respectively.
  • URL opening with mouse – This is self explanatory, you can click links to open them.

Alacritty has build instructions for Linux/BSD, a .dmg file installer for MacOS, and installer versions and portable versions for Windows; and is also available via the Snap store on Linux systems that utilize Snaps.

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However, some features that other terminal applications utilize that are of interest to some users are notably missing from Alacritty, one such example being tiling. Though the feature has been suggested, the developer of Alacritty has stated that there is, “no way such a feature is making it into Alacritty,” and “there are plenty of terminal emulators to choose from that offer this feature.” Alacritty is designed to be simple, fast, and efficient, and does not incorporate some of the flashier or more complex features people may be accustomed to.

Final thoughts

Alacritty is really nice if you want a straightforward, simple, fast, and no frills terminal application; I could see it being a favourite for a great many users. It doesn’t personally fit my workflow in how I like to use terminal windows, but if you are not someone interested in a thousand and one features, only need a single window per-instance, and / or you enjoy keyboard navigation much like with Vi/Vim, Alacritty may be worth looking at.

Now you: What terminal do you use, and why? Let us know in the comments

Summary
A Look At Alacritty The OpenGL Powered Terminal Application
Article Name
A Look At Alacritty The OpenGL Powered Terminal Application
Description
A review of the OpenGL powered terminal application Alacritty.
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Ghacks.org
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Comments

  1. ULBoom said on October 24, 2021 at 3:28 pm
    Reply

    >What terminal do you use, and why?<

    Tilix, I believe (Budgie Ubuntu.) Also PuTTY for lan stuff in windows.

    Nice article, lots of "why's" instead of just "what's."

    1. thebrowser said on October 25, 2021 at 12:40 pm
      Reply

      Indeed, Tilix has been working fine for me lately and I really like it.

  2. Paul(us) said on October 24, 2021 at 5:51 pm
    Reply

    I use the Lubuntu the lxterminal a somewhat limited (Not much settings) compared to Gnome Terminal and Xfce Terminal. But I can not bound to lxterminal (I can change).
    And as you were righting its ferry difficult to find a terminal who is best fitted your main specific needs.
    So that’s why its good that Linux articles are back in Ghacks.net because its always good to get a fresh perspective from somebody else, and its even better when that somebody else is somebody who has a lot of affinity with Linux. :-)

  3. joe said on October 24, 2021 at 9:49 pm
    Reply

    Good balanced review, Ghacks & Mike.
    Thanks!,

    – Ubuntu LInux 20.04 ’round here.

  4. Windows 11 is best OS said on October 25, 2021 at 12:08 am
    Reply

    xterm seems to be the most reasonable option so far. Small and fast (not as much I wish, but better than others).

    Do some shoveling, have some degree in .Xresources for eye candy and that’s it.

  5. DirCompUser said on October 25, 2021 at 2:39 am
    Reply

    At the last count I saw 5-6 terminal applications in Debian 10 and 11, XFCE, also LXQt (other DE issues of Debian not checked), but hardly any system utilities. So I copped out and went for MX Linux for i386 and Ubuntu Studio for x64.

    Terminal Emulator
    Multilingual Terminal
    Thai X Terminal
    UXTerm
    Xfce Terminal
    XTerm

  6. m3city said on October 25, 2021 at 11:39 pm
    Reply

    I always used whatever had been deliverd with distro. Used FISH for a while (not even sure its a terminal?). But are you actually serious about speed of these things? Its a window witb text for tbe love of god! I admit I enjoyed reading the review, but woulf never consider opengl a usefull feature.

  7. Giorgos said on October 26, 2021 at 2:08 pm
    Reply

    Yakuake, because…it gets out of my way instantly! :-) (pressing F12).
    (Also Guake, if I work in a Gnome environment).

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