The Best Terminal Emulator For Linux

The Best Terminal Emulator For Linux

While your terminal emulator of choice depends a lot on personal preference, it’s quite clear that the most powerful terminal emulator on Linux is the feature-filled Terminator.



Platform: Linux Price: Free

Download Page [imgclear]

  • Provides a fully-functional command line interface (CLI) for Linux
  • Arrange terminals in a grid
  • Open multiple sessions in tabs
  • Drag and drop re-ordering of terminals
  • Lots of configurable keyboard shortcuts
  • Save multiple layouts and profiles in the preferences
  • Simultaneous typing to arbitrary groups of terminals
  • Customisable visual style

Terminator is a powerful, feature-filled terminal based on the GNOME Terminal many of you are used to. If you have to work with the terminal often (as most Linux users do), Terminator will make your life easier with not only tabs, but arranging those terminals in a grid, configure a tonne of keyboard shortcuts, and more. You can even save custom layouts for later, so when you’re running a few regular tasks, you can open up your custom grid with just a few keystrokes. It’s a terminal like you’ve never used one before. [imgclear]


The only real downside to Terminator is that it isn’t exactly lightweight. If you’re trying to run a super light system (especially if it’s on a low-powered machine), Terminator might not be the right terminal for you. The only other thing that could make Terminator really killer is if it included a Quake-style drop-down terminal, which can be so handy. [imgclear]


Linux users have a lot to choose from when it comes to terminal emulators. GNOME Terminal and Konsole (GNOME and KDE’s default terminals, respectively) are both great terminals that should get the average user by with a number of preferences, shortcuts and other features. If you only use your terminal on occasion, there’s really no reason to switch away. [imgclear] If you want something really lightweight, you’ll definitely want to check out xterm or its even more lightweight, less configurable counterpart, rxvt. Neither gives you quite the feature set of the above terminal emulators, but they’re perfect for low-powered systems where you don’t need a tonne of options.

Lastly, we love Quake-style drop-down terminals like Guake (for GNOME) and Yakuake (for KDE). In the style of the Quake video game, these terminals drop down from the top of your screen with a quick keystroke, hiding in the background until you need it. It’s perfect for when you need a terminal quickly to just run a few commands — the convenience of having it at your constant beck and call is unparallelled.

Got a favourite terminal emulator we didn’t mention? Share it with us in the comments.

Lifehacker’s App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.


  • My favorite for lightweight terminal editor: Screen. Because when you want lightweight CLI you don’t want to bother loading an expensive GUI terminal just for a terminal emulator (and on laptops I don’t want the crappy touchpad mouse turned on at all!).

    Screen runs on in a text terminal already, but gives you the features and power like terminator with multiple windows/tabs, split screen views and keyboard shortcuts. And a more unique feature, you can detach the screen sessions to and reattach them on another terminal (in case you want to switch to ssh but don’t want to lose your work).

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