The default behavior of my shell window is to create tabs. I can switch between those tabs but only one tab can be visible at a time.

Is it possible to open multiple shells in the same window? E.g. have a window split 4-ways with each pane running it's own instance of a shell. I would prefer this over tabs since I can run my shell window full-screen at see 4 shells at the same time.


5 Answers 5


terminator Install terminator can do exactly this. It is available in the software center.

  • This works great. Very customizable as well.
    – Luke
    Mar 20, 2011 at 0:17

It is probably worth mentioning separately that byobu is very close to being native Ubuntu. Though it is an offshoot of screen, it is the project of Dustin Kirkland, one of the Ubuntu core developers.
His posts on byobu can be seen on his blog. .

As @EvilPhoenix pointed out, it does some cool things by default.

One of the links that Dustin has on his site is a review from Vincent Danen. It describes byobu as

a wrapper for the screen program that bundles additional functionality and custom plugins for an enhanced experience working in the terminal.

Here's Dustin and an actual byobu:

enter image description here

Of course, whether or not you like byobu is a personal taste thing. (I tend to use terminator more often, myself.) But it is pretty cool, and worth a plug.


screen (not installed by default) is some kind of a window manager for text mode that can split your shell window into multiple regions each displaying another shell. If you like working with a shell screen is for sure worth having a look at.

  • 1
    There's a themed version called "byobu" that actually allows you to have multiple tabs and other status displays of certain information pertinent to your system. Mar 20, 2011 at 2:40
  • screen has many other advantages, too. As does tmux.
    – johnsyweb
    Mar 20, 2011 at 5:17

I prefer using tmux, since it's highly customizable. tmux is installed by default on Ubuntu Server

To install tmux on Ubuntu Desktop, use:

sudo apt install tmux

Some of the default keyboard shortcuts on tmux can be a little tricky. I like some small modification to start with.

Add the following lines to the default config ~/.tmux.conf:

# set prefix to control-f
set -g prefix C-f

#unbind system defined prefix
unbind C-b

# horizontal split
bind "'" split-window -h

# vertical split
bind - split-window -v

This changes the default shortcut to Ctrl+F instead of Ctrl+B.

In addition, it changes the horizontal and vertical split functions to the ' and - keys, because they are quite intuitive and easy to remember.

In addition, the Universe repo has tmuxinator, which is a tool to create tmux sessions using an intuitive yaml configuration scheme. This is also highly recommended. Install with:

sudo apt install tmuxinator
  • And for those with the screen muscle memory, of course, you can set the prefix to Ctrl+A. I agree that Ctrl+F is slightly easier on the finger-gymnastics, but it's also already used in the Fish shell to auto-complete suggestions, so some users will have to make a choice anyway. Dec 10, 2022 at 16:51
  • Good alternate suggestion @NotTheDr01ds ! 👍 Dec 10, 2022 at 16:53

tmux has a lot more functionality than screen and is highly customizable. Tmux Github page

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