A fast, lightweight and minimalistic Wayland terminal emulator
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foot is a fast Wayland terminal emulator.


  1. Features
  2. Non-features
  3. What does not work?
  4. Fonts
  5. Shortcuts
    1. Keyboard
      1. Normal mode
      2. Scrollback search
    2. Mouse
  6. Server (daemon) mode
  7. Requirements
    1. Running
    2. Building
  8. Installing
    1. Arch Linux
    2. Other


  • Fast (TODO insert benchmark results here)
  • Wayland native
  • DE agnostic
  • User configurable font fallback
  • Scrollback search
  • Color emoji support
  • "Server" mode (one master process, many windows)


This is a non-exhaustive list of things some people might consider being important features (i.e. "must-haves"), that are unlikely to ever be supported by foot.

  • Tabs
  • Graphical elements (menu, buttons etc)

What does not work?

This is a list of known, but probably not all, issues:

  • Unicode combining characters


  • Reflow text on window resize

  • GNOME; might work, but without window decorations.

    Strictly speaking, foot is at fault here; all Wayland applications must be able to draw their own window decorations (but foot is not).

    However, most people want a uniform look and feel on their desktop, including the window decorations. For this reason, a Wayland application can request Server Side Decorations (SSD). GNOME will reply with a "I hear you, but sorry, I wont do that".


foot supports all fonts that can be loaded by freetype, including bitmap fonts and color emoji fonts.

Foot uses fontconfig to locate and configure the font(s) to use. Since fontconfig's fallback mechanism is imperfect, especially for monospace fonts (it doesn't prefer monospace fonts even though the requested font is one), foot allows you, the user, to configure the fallback fonts to use.

This also means you can configure each fallback font individually; you want that fallback font to use this size, and you want that other fallback font to be italic? No problem!

If a glyph cannot be found in any of the user configured fallback fonts, then fontconfig's list is used.


At the moment, all shortcuts are hard coded and cannot be changed. It is not possible to define new key bindings.


Normal mode

shift+page up/page down
Scroll up/down in history
Copy selected text to the clipboard
Paste from clipboard
Start a scrollback search
Search backward for next match
Search forward for next match
Extend current selection (and thus the search criteria) to the end of the word, or the next word if currently at a word separating character.
Same as ctrl+w, except that the only word separating characters are whitespace characters.
escape, ctrl+g
Cancel the search
Finish the search and copy the current match to the primary selection


left - single-click
Drag to select; when released, the selected text is copied to the primary selection. This feature is disabled when client has enabled mouse tracking.
Holding shift enables selection in mouse tracking enabled clients.
Holding ctrl will create a block selection.
left - double-click
Selects the word (separated by spaces, period, comma, parenthesis etc) under the pointer. Hold ctrl to select everything under the pointer up to, and until, the next space characters.
left - triple-click
Selects the entire row
Paste from primary selection
Scroll up/down in history

Server (daemon) mode

When run normally, foot is a single-window application; if you want another window, start another foot process.

However, foot can also be run in a server mode. In this mode, one process hosts multiple windows. Note that this is nothing like tabs. When first started in server mode, no windows are available.

You open new windows by running footclient. This is a small process that instructs the foot server to open a new terminal window. The client process remains running until the terminal window is closed. The exit value of the client process is that of the shell that was running in the terminal window.

The point of this mode is a) reduced memory footprint - all terminal windows will share fonts and glyph cache, and b) reduced startup time - loading fonts and populating the glyph cache takes time, but in server mode it only happens once.

The downside is a performance penalty; all windows' input and output are multiplexed in the same thread (but each window will have its own set of rendering threads). This means that if one window is very busy with, for example, producing output, then other windows will suffer.

And of course, should the server process crash, all windows will be gone.

Typical usage would be to start the server process (foot --server) when starting your Wayland compositor (i.e. logging in to your desktop), and then run footclient instead of foot whenever you want to launch a new terminal.



  • fontconfig
  • freetype
  • pixman
  • wayland (client and cursor libraries)
  • xkbcommon
  • tllist 1
  • fcft 1


In addition to the dev variant of the packages above, you need:

  • meson
  • ninja
  • wayland protocols
  • ncurses
  • scdoc


foot makes use of a couple of libraries I have developed: tllist and fcft. As such, they will most likely not have been installed already. You can either install them as system libraries, or you can build them as subprojects in foot.

When building foot, they will first be searched for as system libraries. If found, foot will link dynamically against them.

If not found, they will be searched for as subprojects. In this case you need to create the subprojects directory and clone https://codeberg.org/dnkl/fcft.git and https://codeberg.org/dnkl/tllist.git (see Other below).

Arch Linux

Use makepkg to build the bundled PKGBUILD (run makepkg in the source root directory).

It requires tllist and fcft to be installed as system libraries. If you do not want this, please edit the PKGBUILD file, or install manually (see Other below).

Note that it will do a profiling-guided build, and that this requires a running wayland session since it needs to run an intermediate build of foot.


Foot uses meson. If you are unfamiliar with it, the official tutorial might be a good starting point.

I also recommend taking a look at the bundled Arch PKGBUILD file, to see how it builds foot. Especially so if you intend to install a release build of foot, in which case you might be interested in the compiler flags used there.

If you have not installed tllist and fcft as system libraries, clone them into the subprojects directory:

mkdir -p subprojects
pushd subprojects
git clone https://codeberg.org/dnkl/tllist.git
git clone https://codeberg.org/dnkl/fcft.git

To build, first, create a build directory, and switch to it:

mkdir -p bld/release && cd bld/release

Second, configure2 the build (if you intend to install it globally, you might also want --prefix=/usr):

meson --buildtype=release ../..

Three, build it:


You can now run it directly from the build directory:


But note that it will default to TERM=foot, and that this terminfo has not been installed yet. However, most things should work with the xterm-256color terminfo:

./foot --term xterm-256color

But, I recommend you install the foot and foot-direct terminfo files. You can either copy them manually (typically to /usr/share/terminfo/f - but this is dependens on the distro), or just install everything:

ninja install

  1. can also be built as subprojects, in which case they are statically linked. ↩︎

  2. for advanced users: a profile guided build will have significantly better performance; take a look at PKDBUILD to see how this can be done. ↩︎