A fast, lightweight and minimalistic Wayland terminal emulator
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Daniel Eklöf 4c56c8c63d Release 1.2.0 2 years ago
completions config: change default geometry from 800x600 -> 700x500 2 years ago
doc config: change default CSD button width from 22 -> 26 2 years ago
scripts script: generate-alt-random: reduce output size 2 years ago
.gitignore fcft/tllist: remove git submodules 2 years ago
.gitlab-ci.yml ci: checkout/clone (doh!) 2 years ago
.gitmodules fcft/tllist: remove git submodules 2 years ago
CHANGELOG.md meson/PKGBUILD/changelog: prepare for 1.2.0 2 years ago
LICENSE add license 2 years ago
PKGBUILD meson/PKGBUILD/changelog: prepare for 1.2.0 2 years ago
README.md README: fix backtick 2 years ago
async.c async: add async_write(), a write primitive to write to a NONBLOCK:ing FD 2 years ago
async.h async: add async_write(), a write primitive to write to a NONBLOCK:ing FD 2 years ago
base64.c base64: implement encode() 2 years ago
base64.h base64: implement encode() 2 years ago
client.c client: make sure 'cwd' is in scope of all goto's 2 years ago
commands.c scroll-up: ensure view is valid after adjusting an overshot scrollback 2 years ago
commands.h scrollback: initial support for mouse scrolling 2 years ago
config.c config: change default CSD button width from 22 -> 26 2 years ago
config.h config: CSD borders are always invisible 2 years ago
csi.c term: resize: pre-calculate right/bottom margins 2 years ago
csi.h performance improvements 2 years ago
dcs.c sixel: initial support 2 years ago
dcs.h dcs: initial handling of DCS in general 2 years ago
fdm.c fdm: fix log message 2 years ago
fdm.h fdm: add hook priorities 2 years ago
foot-server.desktop desktop: add foot-server.desktop - launches a foot server instance 2 years ago
foot.desktop desktop: clean up, remove unsupported entries 2 years ago
foot.info terminfo: use ST, not BEL as OSC terminator 2 years ago
footrc config: change default CSD button width from 22 -> 26 2 years ago
generate-version.sh generate-version: redirect *both* stdout and stderr to /dev/null 2 years ago
grid.c grid: grid_reflow(): may be called with old_rows/cols == new_rows/cols 2 years ago
grid.h render/grid: move grid reflow code to grid.c 2 years ago
input.c render: never render CSD and/or search box "immediately" 2 years ago
input.h input: input_repeat() takes a 'struct wayland' pointer 2 years ago
keymap.h keymap: tab: handle all modifiers 2 years ago
log.c log: always log file:lineno 2 years ago
log.h main: add --print-pid=FILE|FD 2 years ago
main.c main: check return value of getcwd() 2 years ago
meson.build meson/PKGBUILD/changelog: prepare for 1.2.0 2 years ago
misc.c selection: break out isword() to a new file 2 years ago
misc.h selection: break out isword() to a new file 2 years ago
osc.c osc: implement OSC 12 and OSC 112 (set/reset text cursor color) 2 years ago
osc.h ocs: renamed parameter size -> required_size in osc_ensure_size() 2 years ago
quirks.c quirks: add shortcut for flipping all CSD surfaces sync/desync state 2 years ago
quirks.h quirks: add shortcut for flipping all CSD surfaces sync/desync state 2 years ago
render.c render: never render CSD and/or search box "immediately" 2 years ago
render.h render: never render CSD and/or search box "immediately" 2 years ago
search.c render: never render CSD and/or search box "immediately" 2 years ago
search.h search: wip: re-direct input while searching, and build a search buffer 2 years ago
selection.c term: convert cell 'linefeed' attribute to a row 'linebreak' property 2 years ago
selection.h selection: track selection type; normal or block selection 2 years ago
server.c slave: prefix argv[0] with a '-' when spawning a login-shell 2 years ago
server.h server: implement a --server mode 2 years ago
shm.c shm: log 'size' when failing to fallocate() 2 years ago
shm.h shm: automatic buffer purging is now delayed one cycle 2 years ago
sixel-hls.c sixel: add HLS color format support 2 years ago
sixel-hls.h sixel: add HLS color format support 2 years ago
sixel.c sixel: don't try to dirty an un-allocated row 2 years ago
sixel.h sixel: add sixel_delete_at_row and sixel_delete_in_range 2 years ago
slave.c slave: set $SHELL when command line is a shell listed in /etc/shells 2 years ago
slave.h slave: prefix argv[0] with a '-' when spawning a login-shell 2 years ago
terminal.c render: never render CSD and/or search box "immediately" 2 years ago
terminal.h render: never render CSD and/or search box "immediately" 2 years ago
tokenize.c slave: break out command line tokenizer 2 years ago
tokenize.h slave: break out command line tokenizer 2 years ago
vt.c vt: tag cells that were form-feed:ed, to allow correct text reflow 2 years ago
vt.h Rename: vt_to_slave() -> term_to_slave() 2 years ago
wayland.c wayland: remove debug logs 2 years ago
wayland.h csd: initial implementation of minimize/maximize/close buttons 2 years ago



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. Alt/meta
  8. Backspace
  9. DPI and font size
  10. Requirements
    1. Running
    2. Building
  11. Installing
    1. Arch Linux
    2. Other


  • Fast

  • Lightweight, both on-disk and in-memory

  • Wayland native

  • DE agnostic

  • User configurable font fallback

  • On-the-fly font resize

  • On-the-fly DPI font size adjustment

  • Scrollback search

  • Color emoji support

  • Server/daemon mode (one master process, many windows)

  • Sixel image support



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



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 (this is planned for a later release).. 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
ctrl++, ctrl+=
Increase font size by 1pt
Decrease font size by 1pt
Reset font size
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.


By default, foot prefixes Meta characters with ESC. This corresponds to XTerm's metaSendsEscape option set to true.

This can be disabled programatically with \E[?1036l (and enabled again with \E[?1036h).

When disabled, foot will instead set the 8:th bit of meta character and then UTF-8 encode it. This corresponds to XTerm's eightBitMeta option set to true.

This can also be disabled programatically with rmm (reset meta mode, \E[?1034l), and enabled again with smm (set meta mode, \E[?1034h).


Foot transmits DEL (^?) on backspace. This corresponds to XTerm's backarrowKey option set to false, and to DECBKM being reset.

To instead transmit BS (^H), press ctrl+backspace.

Note that foot does not implement DECBKM, and that the behavior described above cannot be changed.

Finally, pressing alt will prefix the transmitted byte with ESC.

DPI and font size

Font sizes are apparently a complex thing. Many applications use a fixed DPI of 96. They may also multiply it with the monitor's scale factor.

This results in fonts with different physical sizes (i.e. if measured by a ruler) when rendered on screens with different DPI values. Even if the configured font size is the same.

This is not how it is meant to be. Fonts are measured in point sizes for a reason; a given point size should have the same height on all mediums, be it printers or monitors, regardless of their DPI.

Foot will always use the monitor's physical DPI value. Scale factors are irrelevant (well, they affect e.g. padding, but not the font size). This means the glyphs rendered by foot should always have the same physical height, regardless of monitor.

Foot will re-size the fonts on-the-fly when the window is moved between screens with different DPIs values. If the window covers multiple screens, with different DPIs, the highest DPI will be used.

Tip: QT applications can be configured to work this way too, by exporting the environment variable QT_WAYLAND_FORCE_DPI=physical.

Note: if you configure pixelsize, rather than size, then DPI changes will not change the font size. Pixels are always pixels.



  • 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. ↩︎