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Happy birthday Alacritty!

Published on Feb 21, 2022 by Arpad Ray

Alacritty has long been my terminal of choice. It's blazing fast, it looks great, and it's written in Rust ❤.

Six years ago today, Joe Wilm made the first commit to the Alacritty Git repo, so I've decided to celebrate with a brief dive into the repo history.

The file structure over time, weighted by the number of commits

The first few commits were poking at font management, but then we got to meaningful output with this wonderfully dry commit message:

commit 2b7caf95fd6a28d621a348e95f66dd2aee988567
Author: Joe Wilm <[email protected]>
Date:   Tue Feb 23 20:42:58 2016 -0800

    Render the letter J
    This letter brought to you by OpenGL and freetype.
Joe "J" Wilm not betraying his excitement.

Then there were quite a few smaller commits laying the groundwork before two early milestones, "Initial ANSI parser implementation" and "Initial support for Terminal Emulation (woo!)":

commit 30ec14510935d46e7454863f9a4e63e53bf7728c
Author: Joe Wilm <[email protected]>
Date:   Mon May 30 20:44:37 2016 -0700

    Initial support for Terminal Emulation (woo!)
    This patch introduces basic support for terminal emulation. Basic means
    commands that don't use paging and are not full screen applications like
    vim or tmux. Some paging applications are working properly, such as as
    `git log`. Other pagers work reasonably well as long as the help menu is
    not accessed.
    There is now a central Rgb color type which is shared by the renderer,
    terminal emulation, and the pty parser.
    The parser no longer owns a Handler. Instead, a mutable reference to a
    Handler is provided whenever advancing the parser. This resolved some
    potential ownership issues (eg parser owning the `Term` type would've
    been unworkable).

Alacritty remained a one-man show for the next several months but impressively, by the time of Joe Wilm's pre-alpha announcement post, he'd been using it as his primary terminal for a while already.

How the top contributors have changed over time

The striking thing looking at the contributors is the distance between the top three and all the others. With 363 total committers it's clearly in good health, but I think it's pretty unusual to see such a small core team for such a popular project.

With that in mind, huge thanks and congratulations to Joe Wilm, Christian Duerr, Kirill Chibisov and everyone else who has contributed to Alacritty. Here's to another six years!

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