When comparing Emacs vs Byobu, the Slant community recommends Byobu for most people. In the question“What are the best shell powertools?” Byobu is ranked 6th while Emacs is ranked 9th.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Keyboard-focused, mouse-free editing
Emacs can be controlled entirely with the keyboard. While true, I often find the mouse and menus handy for those lesser-used commands. An aide-memoir.
Pro Total customizability
Customizations can be made to a wide range of Emacs' functions through a Lisp dialect (Emacs Lisp). A robust list of existing Lisp extensions include the practical (git integration, syntax highlighting, etc) to the utilitarian (calculators, calendars) to the sublime (chess, Eliza).
Pro It's also an IDE
You can debug, compile, manage files, integrate with version control systems, etc. All through the various plugins that can be installed.
Pro Works in terminal or as a GUI application
You can use Emacs' command line interface or graphical user interface.
Pro Self documenting
Emacs has extensive help support built-in as well as a tutorial accessed with C-h t.
Pro Great documentation
With 30+ years of use the Emacs documentation is very thorough. There are also a lot of tutorials and guides written by third parties.
Licensed under GNU GPL.
Pro Mini buffer
You can pass complicated arguments in the mini buffer.
Fully compliant GNU-emacs is available on many platforms, and they all understand .emacs configuration files.
Pro Rectangular cut and paste
Emacs can select rectangularly.
Pro Vi keybindings through Evil mode
Evil mode emulates vim behaviors within Emacs. It enables Vi users to move inside the Emacs universe.
Pro Visual selection and text objects with Evil
Evil is an extensible vi layer for Emacs. It provides Vim features like Visual selection and text objects.
Pro Lisp customizations
With lisp customization, any behavior of Emacs can be changed. Update with pre-release patch can be also applied without recompiling the whole Emacs.
Pro dabbrev-expand (Alt-/)
Dynamic word completion.
Pro Support multi-line editing, multiple frame, powerful paren, crazy jumping style
Review the "Emacs Rocks" video.
Pro Provides org-mode
Advanced planning and publication which can start as a simple list.
Pro Has been widely used for a long time
Pro Integrates planning in your development process
You can jump straight from your org-mode files to programming tasks - and back - and build a seamless workflow.
Works on Linux, Windows, Macintosh, BSD, and others.
Pro Enormous range of functionalities (way beyond simple "text editing")
Through its programmability, a very broad range of functionalities can be integrated in emacs, turning it even into a "single point of contact" with the underlying operating system.
Pro GTK+ widgets support
Pro Helm plugin adds even more power to Emacs
Powerful commands, search, and more with the Helm plugin.
Managing several large mailing lists has never been easier using Gnus. The threading commands and the various ways of scoring articles means that I never miss important messages/authors, etc. A joy to use.
Emacs is great for everything.
Pro eshell is cross platform
Pro Interactive Shells
Emacs has a number of shell variants: ansi-term, shell, and eshell.
Pro Abstracts tmux and screen with a single user interface.
Pro Easy to get started
All of byobu's functionality is conveniently mapped to F1 to F12. It has a help menu to see keybindings and offers window tabs in an easy to interpret format. All this makes it easy to get started (can get in the way of power users, though).
Pro Adds OS dashboard alerts
byobu has support for OS alerts when an event happens.
Pro apt-get or yum install byobu
If neither tmux nor screen are already installed, installs tmux. Both screen and tmux can be installled at same time. Switch between either easily.
Con Learning curve is long
While it's better than it used to be, with most functions being possible through the menu, Emacs is still quite a bit different from your standard editor. You'll need to learn new keyboard shortcuts.
Con Sometimes the extensibility can distract you from your actual work
If I ever want to lose half a day, I'll start by tweaking my .spacemacs config file.
Con Chorded keyboard combinations can be baffling
For example, for navigation it uses the b, n, p, l keys. Which for some people may seem strange. But don't worry, you can change it.
Con Hard customization
For customization, you need to learn Lisp
Con A lot of jokes in this serious software
Con Using Emacs on a new machine without your .emacs file
Con Can't be used as login shell
The byobu abstraction layers don't pass the parameters on to tmux or screen that indicate that they should run as a login shell. This means that you can't run 'ssh -t hostname byobu'. You need to use 'ssh -t hostname bash -l -c byobu'. A second implication is that the inner shell won't know to read the .profile file instead of the .$SHELLrc file. I know of no workaround for this.
Con Comparatively heavy
byobu adds a lot of functionality to the default tmux display. Most of that can't be implemented using the internal variables tmux provides, but requires executing external scripts.
This must be done on every update of the status bar, which happens once a second. That means that the system is performing a lot of forks and interpreting a lot of scripts for this "thin shell wrapper".
Con Adds only a relatively superficial abstraction on tmux or screen
Byobu still uses GNU Screen or tmux as the backend, so from a usability perspective it doesn't add much in terms of new functionalities, instead it only adds a layer of abstraction on top of them.