Making urxvt beautiful

Tags: howtos, software

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For a long time, urxvt has been my favourite terminal application. In the wake of all these theming approaches such as solarized, I decided to take another look at my configuration. It turns out that teaching urxvt to use another colour scheme is surprisingly easy. Personally, I like the Tango colour palette, so I added the following lines to my .Xdefault file:

urxvt*foreground: white
urxvt*background: black

*color0:  #2E3436
*color1:  #a40000
*color2:  #4E9A06
*color3:  #C4A000
*color4:  #3465A4
*color5:  #75507B
*color6:  #ce5c00
*color7:  #babdb9
*color8:  #555753
*color9:  #EF2929
*color10: #8AE234
*color11: #FCE94F
*color12: #729FCF
*color13: #AD7FA8
*color14: #fcaf3e
*color15: #EEEEEC

To force ls to to coloured listings, I added alias ls='ls --color=auto' to my .zshrc file. As a final touch, I wanted some transparency for urxvt. Since I am not using a composite window manager, I settled for the “face” transparency option of urxvt. This required the addition of only two lines to .Xdefaults:

urxvt*transparent: true
urxvt*shading: 15

Of course, the amount of shading should be customized to your personal preferences. It is surprising how much more I like the command-line now. If you want to use a single theme for all applications, including your window manager, I would suggest looking at the blog of Liang Zan. He really goes the extra mile and customizes every last aspect of his shell and associated programs…