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Termonad is a terminal emulator configurable in Haskell. It is extremely customizable and provides hooks to modify the default behavior. It can be thought of as the “XMonad” of terminal emulators.

image of Termonad

Table of Contents


Termonad can be installed on any system as long as the necessary GTK libraries are available. The following are instructions for installing Termonad on a few different distributions and systems. If the given steps don’t work for you, or you want to add instructions for an additional system, please send a pull request.

The following steps use the stack build tool to build Termonad, but cabal can be used as well. Steps for installing stack can be found on this page.

Arch Linux

First, you must install the required GTK system libraries:

$ pacman -S vte3

In order to install Termonad, clone this repository and run stack install. This will install the termonad binary to ~/.local/bin/:

$ git clone https://github.com/cdepillabout/termonad
$ cd termonad/
$ stack install

Ubuntu / Debian

First, you must install the required GTK system libraries:

$ apt-get install gobject-introspection libgirepository1.0-dev libgtk-3-dev libvte-2.91-dev

In order to install Termonad, clone this repository and run stack install. This will install the termonad binary to ~/.local/bin/:

$ git clone https://github.com/cdepillabout/termonad
$ cd termonad/
$ stack install


If you have nix installed, you should be able to use it to build Termonad. This means that it will work on NixOS, or with nix on another distro. There are two different ways to use nix to build Termonad:

The first is using stack. The following commands install stack for your user, clone this repository, and install the termonad binary to ~/.local/bin/:

$ nix-env -i stack
$ git clone https://github.com/cdepillabout/termonad
$ cd termonad/
$ stack --nix install

The second is using the normal nix-build machinery. The following commands clone this repository and build the termonad binary at ./result/bin/:

$ git clone https://github.com/cdepillabout/termonad
$ cd termonad/
$ nix-build

Mac OS X

Building and installing Termonad on Mac OS X should be possible with any of the following three methods:

  • Install the required system libraries (like GTK and VTE) by hand, then use stack to build Termonad.

    This is probably the easiest method. You don’t have to understand anything about nix. However, it is slightly annoying to have to install GTK and VTE by hand.

  • Use nix to install both the required system libraries and Termonad itself.

    If you are a nix user and want an easy way to install Termonad, this is the recommended method.

  • Use nix to install install the required system libraries, and stack to build Termonad.

    If you are a nix user, but want to use stack to actually do development on Termonad, using stack may be easier than using cabal.

The following sections describe each method.

Installing with just stack

(currently no instructions available. please send a PR adding instructions if you get termonad to build using this method.)

Installing with just nix

nix can be used to install Termonad with the following steps, assuming you have nix installed. These commands clone this repository and build the termonad binary at ./result/bin/:

$ git clone https://github.com/cdepillabout/termonad
$ cd termonad/
$ nix-build

Installing with stack using nix

stack can be used in conjunction with nix to install Termonad. nix will handle installing system dependencies (like GTK and VTE), while stack will handle compiling and installing Haskell packages.

You must have nix installed.

You will also need stack installed. You can do that with the following command:

$ nix-env -i stack

After stack is installed, you will need to clone Termonad and build it:

$ git clone https://github.com/cdepillabout/termonad
$ cd termonad/
$ stack --nix install

This will install the termonad binary to ~/.local/bin/.


(currently no instructions available. please send a PR adding instructions if you get termonad to build.)

How to use Termonad

Termonad is similar to XMonad. The above steps will install a termonad binary somewhere on your system. If you have installed Termonad using stack, the termonad binary will be in ~/.local/bin/. This binary is a version of Termonad configured with default settings. You can try running it to get an idea of what Termonad is like:

$ ~/.local/bin/termonad

The following section describes the default key bindings.

If you would like to configure Termonad with your own settings, first you will need to create a Haskell file called ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs. A following section gives an example configuration file.

If this configuration file exists, when the ~/.local/bin/termonad binary launches, it will try to use GHC to compile the configuration file. If GHC is able to successfully compile the configuration file, a separate binary will be created called something like ~/.cache/termonad/termonad-linux-x86_64. This binary file can be thought of as your own personal Termonad, configured with all your own settings.

When you run ~/.local/bin/termonad, it will re-exec ~/.cache/termonad/termonad-linux-x86_64 if it exists.

However, there is one difficulty with this setup. In order for the ~/.local/bin/termonad binary to be able to compile your ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs configuration file, Termonad needs to know where GHC is, as well as where all your Haskell packages live. This presents some difficulties that will be discussed in a following section.

Default Key Bindings

Termonad provides the following default key bindings.

Key binding Action
Ctrl Shift t Open new tab.
Ctrl Shift w Close tab.
Alt (number key) Switch to tab number. For example, Alt 2 switches to tab 2.

Configuring Termonad

The following is an example Termonad configuration file. You should save this to ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs. You can find more information on the available configuration options within the Termonad.Config module.

{-# LANGUAGE OverloadedStrings #-}

module Main where

import Data.Colour.SRGB (Colour, sRGB24)
import Termonad.App (defaultMain)
import Termonad.Config
  ( FontConfig, FontSize(FontSizePoints), Option(Set)
  , ShowScrollbar(ShowScrollbarAlways), defaultConfigOptions, defaultFontConfig
  , defaultTMConfig, fontConfig, fontFamily, fontSize, options, showScrollbar
import Termonad.Config.Colour
  (ColourConfig, addColourExtension, createColourExtension, cursorBgColour
  , defaultColourConfig

-- | This sets the color of the cursor in the terminal.
-- This uses the "Data.Colour" module to define a dark-red color.
-- There are many default colors defined in "Data.Colour.Names".
cursBgColor :: Colour Double
cursBgColor = sRGB24 204 0 0

-- | This sets the colors used for the terminal.  We only specify the background
-- color of the cursor.
colConf :: ColourConfig (Colour Double)
colConf =
    { cursorBgColour = Set cursBgColor

-- | This defines the font for the terminal.
fontConf :: FontConfig
fontConf =
    { fontFamily = "DejaVu Sans Mono"
    , fontSize = FontSizePoints 13

main :: IO ()
main = do
  colExt <- createColourExtension colConf
  let termonadConf =
          { options =
                { fontConfig = fontConf
                  -- Make sure the scrollbar is always visible.
                , showScrollbar = ShowScrollbarAlways
        `addColourExtension` colExt
  defaultMain termonadConf

Compiling Local Settings

If you launch Termonad by calling ~/.local/bin/termonad, it will try to compile the ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs file if it exists. The problem is that ~/.local/bin/termonad needs to be able to see GHC and the required Haskell libraries to be able to compile ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs.

There are a couple solutions to this problem, listed in the sections below.

(These steps are definitely confusing. I would love to figure out a better way to do this. Please submit an issue or PR if you have a good idea about how to fix this.)

Running with stack

If you originally compiled Termonad with stack, you can use stack to execute Termonad. First, you must change to the directory with the Termonad source code. From there, you can run stack exec:

$ cd termonad/  # change to the termonad source code directory
$ stack exec -- termonad

stack will pick up the correct GHC version and libraries from the stack.yaml and termonad.cabal file. termonad will be run in an environment with GHC available. termonad will use this GHC and libraries to compile your ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs file. It if succeeds, it should create a ~/.cache/termonad/termonad-linux-x86_64 binary.

If you need extra Haskell libraries available when compiling your ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs file, you can specify them to stack exec:

$ stack exec --package lens --package conduit -- termonad

The problem with this is that stack exec changes quite a few of your environment variables. It is not recommended to actually run Termonad from within stack exec. After you run stack exec -- termonad and let it recompile your ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs file, exit Termonad. Re-run Termonad by calling it directly. Termonad will notice that ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs hasn’t changed since ~/.cache/termonad/termonad-linux-x86_64 has been recompiled, so it will directly execute ~/.cache/termonad/termonad-linux-x86_64.

Running with nix

Building Termonad with nix (by running nix-build in the top directory) sets it up so that Termonad can see GHC. Termonad should be able to compile the ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs file by default.

If you’re interested in how this works, or want to change which Haskell packages are available from your ~/.config/termonad/termonad.hs file, please see the documentation in the .nix-helpers/termonad-with-packages.nix file.


Termonad has the following goals:

  • fully configurable in Haskell

    There are already many good terminal emulators. However, there are no terminal emulators fully configurable in Haskell. Termonad fills this niche.

  • flexible

    Most people only need a terminal emulator that lets you change the font-size, cursor color, etc. They don’t need tons of configuration options. Termonad should be for people that like lots of configuration options. Termonad should provide many hooks to allow the user full control over its behavior.

  • stable

    Termonad should be able to be used everyday as your main terminal emulator. It should not crash for any reason. If you experience a crash, please file an issue or a pull request!

  • good documentation

    The documentation for Termonad on Hackage should be good. You shouldn’t have to guess at what certain data types or functions do. If you have a hard time understanding anything in the documentation, please submit an issue or PR.

Where to get help

If you find a bug in Termonad, please either send a PR fixing it or create an issue explaining it.

If you just need help with configuring Termonad, you can either join the Gitter room or #termonad on irc.freenode.net.


Contributions are highly appreciated. Termonad is currently missing many helpful configuration options and behavior hooks. If there is something you would like to add, please submit an issue or PR.



  • Stop using the widgetSetFocusOnClick function, which is not supported on older versions of GTK. This lets Termonad be compiled with older versions of GTK. #87.
  • Add CI. #87.
  • Support versions of VTE-2.91 older than 0.44. #87.
  • Add some functions for converting from a list to a Vec in Termonad.Config.Vec: fromListVec and fromListVec_. Commit 883eb98b5f.
  • Fix the paste hotkey. #86.

  • The API for configuring Termonad is now completely different. Many, many changes have gone into this version. You should approach it as a completely different application.

    The CHANGELOG will be kept up-to-date for future releases.

  • Make sure the window title is set to “Termonad”.
  • Relabel tabs when termonad is started.

  • Open dialog asking if you want to quit when you try to use your WM to quit.
  • Termonad will attempt to open up a new terminal in the working directory of the current terminal.
  • Make sure termonad won’t crash if dyre can’t find GHC.
  • Add a few more ways to compile on NixOS.
  • Add an icon for termonad.

  • Initial release.
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