ratpoison is a Window Manager software for the X Windowing System. It's worth being mentioned, for its uncommon approach to handling windows in a windowing system. It finally allows the GUI-impaired terminal junkies, to leave the 80x25 text mode for a change.

You may find the name deterring because of the rats and poisons, but the idea behind the name is about getting rid of the rodent that is the computer mouse. ratpoison is based on the traditional screen terminal multiplexer program, and has the following semantics:

  • A command based, Emacs-like flexible interface
  • The windows are always maximized and the screen area is used entirely.
  • There are no fancy window decorations, because you have no mouse to click them.
  • Switching, closing, and splitting windows is done entirely using keystrokes, that are bound to the right commands.
  • Like screen, all key strokes are prefixed, to minimize the key clobbering that cripples Emacs and other quality pieces of software.
  • Lightweight, can be used in PDAs (which naturally have no mouse attached)