I spend a lot of time using screen, whether it’s on my main machine, or through ssh to another. It’s an amazing tool that really deserves more attention, but starts off rather droll. So in that sense, customizing screen is more or less necessary.
As a shortcut to hand-editing configuration files, byobu gives you a decent screen arrangement and nicely coordinated colors, along with configuration menus, window management controls and an interface to the underlying screen program. By default, it looks attractive; this is the AUR conversion.
Or at least, as attractive as you can expect for a program that really only displays a couple of bars of text, against the console. Pressing F9 under the default key settings will allow you to arrange byobu to your taste, so if you run a light-colored terminal and want a matching color scheme, you can pick one you like.
byobu also has some interesting power meters and system information that some higher-end hardware would find useful. Most, if not all, of those are adjustable through the built-in menus, as well as some specialized windows (built from core commands) that will take closer peeks at your system.
Whether or not you like byobu might depend on how long you’ve been using screen. I had to shift my own .screenrc file out of the way before byobu would start up for me in Arch; if you have a long series of settings you prefer, it might be more work to incorporate them into byobu than you like.
A couple of other points that you might want to consider:
- The function key controls for byobu might get in the way of some of your applications. You can adjust those to a different set of course, which I had to do almost immediately because I need the function keys for mc. screen’s default keyset is available as an option too.
- screen is still what drives byobu, so if your version has a patch (such as the vertical split patch), you’ll have that function in byobu too. I believe the default screen in Arch does not have that patch; look for the AUR screen-vs package.
I’ve used byobu under Ubuntu and Arch, and see the package in Debian and elsewhere. If you want to get started with screen and want a jump start on prettifying it, this might be a good way to learn. 🙂