Linux Tactic

Boost Your Terminal Efficiency with Byobu: A Complete Guide

Introduction to Byobu

As technology continues to advance, terminal multiplexers like Byobu become essential for managing tasks efficiently. Byobu is an extension of the GNU Screen terminal multiplexer with several additional features that make it an attractive option for any terminal user.

It is essential to understand the basics of Byobu, why one would want to use it, and how to install it before getting started; this article will explore just that. What is Byobu?

Byobu is a terminal multiplexer that sports several enhancements that make it unique to the ever-dependable GNU Screen. These include an enhanced status bar, custom keybindings, split-screen support, and streamlined window management.

Byobu is available for free on most popular Linux distributions and macOS. Why Use Byobu?

One of the primary reasons for using Byobu is to maintain terminal states. For instance, if you are working on a long-running task, you can detach the session and pick up right where you left off later on.

Byobu sessions can also be resumed if a remote connection gets interrupted. Byobu workspaces come in handy when working with multiple applications on the same terminal by allowing for quick switching between them.

If you have multiple terminal connections to other servers, Byobu simplifies the task switching process.

Installing Byobu

Most popular Linux distributions have Byobu available for installation via their package manager. It is best practice to confirm the version of Byobu installed as several distributions still have older versions in their repositories.

For instance, on Ubuntu, you can run these commands in your terminal:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install byobu


Alternatively, if you do not have Byobu on your system, use this command:

sudo apt-get install byobu

Getting Started with Byobu

Byobu is not activated by default in a terminal. To enable Byobu, run the “

byobu-enable” command in the terminal connection you’d like to operate in.

Enabling Byobu

To enable Byobu, run this command:


You can also enable Byobu by pressing F6 on your keyboard in the terminal window. After that, the Byobu status bar will appear at the bottom, and you are free to start your work.

Saving Terminal States with Byobu

Suppose you’re working on a task that is taking quite some time, and you need to disconnect from your terminal for a bit. In that case, you can use Byobu to keep your session active.

To detach the session, simply press “Ctrl-a d” and the process will continue running in the background. When you return, simply enter “byobu attach” in the terminal to resume where you left off.

Selecting Background Multiplexer

By default, Byobu uses the Tmux multiplexer. However, you can switch to another supported background multiplexer such as the GNU Screen multiplexer by running the “byobu-select-backend” command.

This command will prompt you to select your preferred background multiplexer, screen or tmux.


In conclusion, by providing an enhanced terminal experience, Byobu proves to be a powerful tool for managing terminal tasks efficiently. From saving terminal states to switching between multiple workspace applications, Byobu brings an added layer of convenience to terminal users.

Byobu is easy to install, easy to use, and has a friendly community available for support. If you’re looking for a multiplexer that makes tasks easier, Byobu is worth checking out.

Customizing Byobu

Byobu may be easy to use out of the box, but with some customization tweaks, it can be more user-friendly.

Customizing Byobu can include changing the prompt colors to match one’s preferences, creating new sessions, using windows, and working with panes.

Colorful Prompt

The Byobu prompt shows the current date and time, and the user and hostnames, making it easy to identify which terminal is active. However, suppose you want a more colorful prompt to visually distinguish different terminals quickly.

In that case, you can enable a colorful prompt by using the “

byobu-enable-prompt” command. To enable a colorful prompt, type the following into your terminal:


This command will prompt you to select your desired prompt style, and the prompt will change automatically. To disable the colorful prompt and return to the default settings, type “byobu-disable-prompt” into your terminal.

Using Byobu Sessions

Byobu sessions allow you to group multiple terminal windows under one session, making it easy to toggle between them without having to close and re-open terminal windows. You can create new sessions, toggle between sessions, and even close unwanted sessions.

To create a new Byobu session, open a terminal window and type “byobu new.” This command will create a new Byobu session with a unique ID. You can then toggle between sessions by using the “byobu switch-session” command followed by the session number (e.g., “byobu switch-session 2”).

To close a session, first list the available sessions using “byobu list-sessions” and identify the session you want to close. Then use the “byobu kill-session -t [session number]” command to terminate the session.

Using Byobu Windows

Byobu windows allow you to organize tasks within a session. Each window can have its own terminal process, which comes in handy when working on multiple projects simultaneously.

Windows can also be named, rearranged, and scrolled through easily. To create a new window in Byobu, press “Ctrl-a c.” This command will create a new window with an incrementing numerical value.

To name the window, press “Ctrl-a A,” enter the name you want to give the window, and press enter. You can then rearrange the windows by using “Ctrl-a [.” This command puts Byobu in the “copy mode,” which allows you to scroll through the window’s history using the arrow keys.

Press “q” to exit “copy mode.”

Using Byobu Panes

Byobu panes allow you to simultaneously view different terminal windows in a single session. You can split a window horizontally or vertically, adjust the size of each pane, move between panes, and even close panes independently.

To split a window horizontally, press “Ctrl-a %.” This command splits the current window and opens a new pane to the right. You can similarly split a window vertically by pressing “Ctrl-a |.” To resize the current pane, use “Ctrl-a +” to increase the size and “Ctrl-a -” to decrease it.

To move between the panes, use “Ctrl-a arrow [direction] (left, right, up, down).” To close a pane, use “exit” or press “Ctrl-d.”


Byobu provides an enhanced terminal experience, with several customization options tailored to a user’s preference. Colorful prompts, sessions, windows, and panes come in handy when managing terminal tasks efficiently.

Byobu is easy to install, use, and customize, making it more user-friendly. As Byobu continues to evolve, it remains a favorite terminal multiplexer for both intermediate and advanced terminal users.

In conclusion, Byobu’s flexibility and customization features make it a top terminal multiplexer for Linux and macOS users. Its enhanced terminal experience, coupled with several customization options, allows for greater efficiency in managing multiple terminal tasks.

Users can customize their prompts, create and switch between sessions, organize tasks with windows, and multitask with panes. Byobu is easy to install, easy to use and customize, and has a friendly community available for support.

As such, Byobu is an invaluable tool for intermediate and advanced terminal users who seek to streamline their workflow and enhance their productivity.

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