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Ask Slashdot: What Terminal Emulator Do You Use? 352

An anonymous reader writes: Although I spend a considerable amount of my time at work using shell commands and other text-based applications, I've never really given much thought to what terminal emulator I use. A recent article over on rounded up their picks for their seven favorite terminals, but I'm still unsure if it really matters which one I pick. Do you have a favorite terminal emulator, and if so, what makes it your favorite? I'm interested in hearing about that "one killer feature" that really sold you on your choice.
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Ask Slashdot: What Terminal Emulator Do You Use?

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  • by kaka.mala.vachva ( 1164605 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:44PM (#50924665)
    LXTerminal - no dependencies to GNOME, light, supports tabs, moving tabs and naming tabs, copy and paste. I don't need anything else from terminal emulators. []
    • I use either xterm or putty.

    • Still using xterm. I used a few that claimed to be "light weight" but they all sucked. Over time, xterm has continued to stay the same size and speed, with the same (rather complete) feature set, while competitors have grown and grown and now xterm is lighter weight than anything with even 50% of the feature set.

      # ps ax | grep xterm | grep -v grep | wc -l

      I don't like tabs because they serve the same purpose as "workspaces" or "virtual desktops" and I can just layout related terms on their own screen. Then

      • I use xterm (with a small bitmap font), but a disadvantage is the old-style mouse-button copy/paste. Now that fewer and fewer laptops have a middle mouse button, it gets hard to paste text. I sometimes run linux in Virtualbox (Windows host) and I never managed to get middle-button emulation working there.
  • ZOC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nbvb ( 32836 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:44PM (#50924675) Journal

    ZOC is hands down my favorite terminal emulator.

    Best emulation, including ANSI. Full scrollback buffers. Zmodem support. Runs on OS/2 *AND* OS X. Love it.

    • +1 - very capable, albeit a bit pricey.
    • Re:ZOC (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @04:31PM (#50925181)

      OMG... ZOC is still around? I haven't used that since... well... since I used OS/2 Warp 2.1

      And they still use REXX!

    • xterm brags [] that they have the most faithful emulation of the DEC vt100/220/320/420/520 state machines of any implementation on the market.

      In summary, none of the other terminal emulators emulates "most" of xterm. Instead, they implement the most commonly-used control sequences, and there are differences between them.

      I have Cygwin on my office Windows PC, and when I have to work with a VAX or otherwise use a complete and faithful terminal emulation, I use xterm.

      If xterm had tabs, I would never use anything

  • Windows (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <<megazzt> <at> <>> on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:46PM (#50924697) Homepage
    This is more of a Linux thing, Windows users are mostly locked to the OS-provided console UI, but there are a couple apps out there. I used Console2 [] for a bit, which has a bunch of features over a standard Console window, then I found ConEmu [] which is what I like to use now. I configured it to work like a Quake-style console which is fun and easily accessible.
    • by Hylandr ( 813770 )


      You're Welcome.

    • I've never understood the appeal of Quake-style drop-downs. The last thing I need is quick command at chat speed, and, as a server sysadmin there's usually nothing interesting on my laptop/desktop to begin with -- I'm administering servers that are out there doing stuff.

      For Windows (and OS X, finally), I've gotten accustomed to SecureCRT's interface and tend to find it the most comfortable. SecureFX is a little less reliable on the Mac (I prefer CyberDuck or another more Mac-like client), but its integratio

      • A drop down terminal is super helpful when switching back and forth between the terminal and documentation in a browser window.

    • This is more of a Linux thing, Windows users are mostly locked to the OS-provided console UI,

      I use Cygwin on Windows, and most often I use xterm running under Cygwin's X Server. I use xterm mainly out of habit, cause that's what I always used back in the day on Unix and later on Linux systems.

      • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

        That's how I did it for years, until mintty came out. Now I'm an unabashed mintty fanboy.

    • Re:Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swb ( 14022 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @04:25PM (#50925103)

      ConEmu is a godsend. The configuration options are kind of intricate, but it's awesome to have a cmd/powershell window that acts like every other GUI terminal emulator (like putty) has since forever.

      It runs portable, so if I do a consulting gig that involves a metric assload of powershell I can run ConEmu on the client systems without doing an install and just blow it away when I'm done.

      I'm kind of puzzled at why when MS came out with PowerShell they stuck to the same crappy console window that cmd.exe used. You'd have thought they would have gained a lot more adoption momentum if there was a gee-whiz new terminal window that came with it.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      Actually, as a Windows user I tend to go out and install the msys [] version of bash on any system I'm going to be doing serious work on. A lot of people prefer Cygwin's bash, but the licensing on msys is nicer, and all you really lose is some POSIX stuff that isn't all that important unless you are trying to perform a Unix port of something. Most of the official gcc compiler installs for Windows use msys/mingwin.

      If you don't mind learning a bunch of stuff that's only valid on today's flavor of Windows, I un

  • This is harder than I would have thought. I'm working on a custom build of NetBSD for a project, for desktop use of a sort. Trying to find one that isn't part of some other DE (which is fine, but I'd rather have one that doesn't rely on a bunch of libraries that are only installed so I can sue it), AND has tab, unicode and transparency support is hard. I still haven't found a decent one, although have a few more to search through.

    In the meanwhile, I'm using tilde and xterm.

    • You need LXTerminal.
      • Part of my criteria was that it is not from another DE. Isn't LXterminal from LXDE?

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          If you could articulate WHY you demand that it not be part of a DE, it would be helpful.

          Meanwhile, Wikipedia is your friend. "LXTerminal is the standard terminal emulator of LXDE. The terminal is a desktop-independent VTE-based terminal emulator for LXDE without any unnecessary dependency. "

          LXTerminal 0.2.0 dependencies []: Vte-0.28.2. PERIOD.

          Appears to me that there is no rational reason to discount it. You don't have to load LXDE to get LXTerminal.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:47PM (#50924717) Journal

    Every candidate they list is a local console application using a local framebuffer desktop system.

    Real terminal emulators are network detached from a headless server system.

    I use PuTTY SSH from Windows, command-line OpenSSH from a native (non-graphical) console for Linux, or VxConnectBot on my Android phone (which has a slider keyboard).

    Sometimes I'll actually use an old-school serial-port terminal emulator on an old Amiga to connect to my "desperation serial port" console on my home server. Weird how that thing will be working when must network-based ttys are down.

  • Pretty minimalist. :-)
  • by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:48PM (#50924721)

    Terminals are lame. I like being close to the machine, so I wired the serial port right into auditory nerve. I had to drop the bitrate to 7-O-3 to get it to work reliably.

    I'm still working on the input part. It's hard to concentrate on input when the damn thing is blasting your ear every few microseconds with noise.

  • by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:49PM (#50924741) Homepage Journal
    I recently was working on a machine with no internet connectivity trying to visualize some data with gnuplot. Only I discovered that some distros (won't name names here, but it's not an obscure one) by default install gnuplot with no bitmapped graphics support. I thought I was up a creek until I noticed that gnuplot has support for xterms's tektronics graphics mode. While it still has limitations (no color!), it got the job done. I'd like to see your fancy semitransparent Gnome Terminal handle hideously obsolete vector graphics.
  • Defaults that work well give me no incentive to gnome-terminal (known as mate-terminal on most of my systems) and osso-xterm.

  • tty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:50PM (#50924757)
    If you have the misfortune of running a GUI, you can quickly get to a tty with Ctrl-Alt-F1. Who needs emulation?
    • by MSG ( 12810 )

      If you're on a PC, that's still a virtual terminal, emulating a terminal.

    • You can have a dozen terminal windows on screen (OK, it's usually only 3 to 5 for me.) Each with multiple tabs, each tab running tmux. Yay.

      konsole for the record but it doesn't matter much.

    • by jdavidb ( 449077 )
      The GUI is just a manager for my 37 terminal windows.
  • Real programmers use butterflies: []

  • It's good enough and has everything I need. Tcsh (preferred) or bash (in a pinch) inside it.
  • xshell 4

    Because all the things.

  • by SpectreBlofeld ( 886224 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:55PM (#50924819)

    Guake [] is the first thing I install on a new distro. Terminal drop-down is only a keypress away.

    • every time i run gnome, i eventually start missing yakuake, so i install guake. and i'm always disappointed. inability to resize on the fly (with key combo), inability to split terminal horizontally and vertically, inability to rename tabs to something meaningful (and for the tab names to STAY that way).

  • I'm still using good old xterms when on Unix. They're super stupid fast, they use basically no memory, and you can change the font size quicker than with any other terminal in which you don't sometimes change it by accident by mashing keys.

    If there's a terminal icon already in whatever launcher, though, I generally just use it until it pisses me off

    • I'm still using good old xterms when on Unix. They're super stupid fast, they use basically no memory

      Memory usage by a terminal emulator can hardly be a deciding factor these days, can it? Just checked my work box, and gnome terminal is using ~45Mb out of 32Gb, even with god-knows-how-many terminal tabs open. It's not going to break the bank ...

      Come to think of it -- does anyone know of a terminal emulator with Tree Style Tabs?? That would be a true killer feature for me.

  • Konsole (Score:5, Informative)

    by AntEater ( 16627 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:59PM (#50924867) Homepage

    All things being equal, I prefer KDE's Konsole. It has all the features I need or want (tabs, profiles, easy customization) and fits well in the KDE environment.

    If I'm using a simple window manager, I go for rxvt because it's lightweight and still hits most of the feature list.

    What I actually use the most is Putty thanks to the fact that I'm at work and Windows doesn't include a sane set of utilities.

    The hall of shame award goes to Apple's Horrible handling of the bash key shortcuts.

    • by coats ( 1068 )
      ...and is customizable from the command line: I have a set of about three dozen color-customizations, one for each remote host I work on. My menu has "run an ssh remote session on this customization of RXVT" for each of those hosts. Can't do that with most of these new-fangled terminal emulators...
    • Same here. The other thing I like with Konsole is the shortcut for switching tabs is Shift+ which is very quick to hit.

      Honestly as long as you give me tabs and the ability to type I'm pretty happy.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        The other thing I like with Konsole is the shortcut for switching tabs is Shift+ which is very quick to hit.

        Funny, when I hit shift+ in Konsole, it just prints "+".

  • by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @03:59PM (#50924877)

    For just opening a terminal on my desktop/laptop, I'm using the default mate-terminal (I run Mint w/ MATE).

    However, when I'm coding (usually PHP stuff) I use Kate as my editor, and it can use konsole as a terminal at the bottom of the editor. Instead of toggling back and forth between windows, or even switching my focus from one to another on my dual monitor setup, I can see webserver error logs or whatever right there in the editor.

  • I use GTKTerm for being a 'real' terminal connected to embedded kit via serial ports (either real, 9-pin beasts or virtual via USB). Outside of that, I use Gnome Terminal - for when I want to launch ssh onto another computer as well.
  • PuTTy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darkain ( 749283 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @04:03PM (#50924913) Homepage

    PuTTy. It isn't a "terminal emulator" in the sense that it is the terminal for the local machine. It is used for connecting to all those remote headless servers out there. I'm personally locked into Windows on my workstation for the time being due to other Windows only software requirements, so this is a good bridging application to access all the Linux, FreeBSD, vSphere, and SmartOS machines that I work with.

    • by jdavidb ( 449077 )
      I'm duplicating what I put in another post, but you might be a bit interested in trying out mintty with Cygwin. mintty was forked from PuTTY awhile back and is pretty nice, and you get all the UNIX commands local on your Windows machine that you are stuck with (like me).
      • by darkain ( 749283 )

        Does it support smart card based authentication? This is one of the main reasons I'm on PuTTy now is because my company switched to using USB based smart cards and passwordless authentication.

  • Most of my work nowdays is done on a Win 8.1 box with Cygwin installed. I used to use rxvt until it broke a couple years back, now it's mintty.

    On Linux, I don't know. Tried to upgrade my Linux box a couple weeks ago and got the message "your video chip is no longer supported". Sure nuff, it won't go into GUI mode. Haven't gotten around to fixing it yet.
    • by klui ( 457783 )

      Same here. If you set LANG=....UTF-8 Unicode is rendered using common programs like ls and less, but sadly not vi.

  • Kermit (Score:4, Informative)

    by Billy the Mountain ( 225541 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @04:04PM (#50924923) Journal
    Whenever I dial up to my ISP on my 1200 baud modem using an acoustic coupler, I prefer using Kermit! []
  • M-x shell in emacs for anything long-running, or where you need copy-paste. M-x rename-buffer lets you run several shells in one emacs. If you have a file opened with tramp e.g. open a file named "/user@other-host:/etc/that-config-file" (i.e. ssh to another system) , M-x shell will launch on that host (at least in recent versions).

    Also other shell-based interfaces like mysql, tclsh will usually have their own mode, launced with e.g. M-x sql-mysql .

    Emacs does not like ncurses-based apps, so then Xterm needs

  • I love the broadcast feature of mrxvt because there are a number of situations I get into where it's just handy to control 20 different machines with the same keypresses.

    Unfortunately it doesn't support modern typography like UTF8. So I am using xfce4-terminal which mostly does what I need. Wrote a little script to deal with the broadcasting that leverages pconsole to get me there.

    • by ewhac ( 5844 )

      Unfortunately it doesn't support modern typography like UTF8.

      Are mrxvt and urxvt (RXVT with Unicode support) mutually exclusive?

    • 1. One good feature is - switching to the last used tab. I bind it to ctrl-tab. Most terminal emulators support going to next, previous, nth tab, but last used tab is somewhat rare.

      2. If a non-current tab has any activity, its tab icon gets a notification. This feature seems to be missing in much later terminal emulators - e.g. recent releases of gnome-terminal, lxterminal, xfce-terminal. Lilyterm has this feature, though.

  • I don't always connect to my ISP using dial-up on a 1200 baud modem with an acoustic coupler, but when I do, I use Kermit!
  • I'm using mate-terminal. Given that I'm running a Mate desktop, it makes sense. However, it does depend on mate-desktop-libs, so I wouldn't recommend it to uses of other DEs.
  • by digitalPhant0m ( 1424687 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @04:19PM (#50925043)

    If you're a sysadmin or devops engineer (or whatever the popular term for unix admin is these days) you're going to want to be able to broadcast input to groups of terminals.

    Terminator (Linux)

    iTerm2 (OSX)

    • Sure because you have a usecase where sendinging the same commands to n number of servers is the best method? Is this what sysadmins without puppet/chef/etc etc are forced to use. Are you tail tail -f log files as well?

  • You can have my VT100 when you pry it from my cold dead hands....

    Well, that is if I still had one.

    Who am I kidding. I just use whatever comes installed by default. I never did use any really fancy terminal features beyond color displays. XTerm is fine for me. Though I do remember back in the day when the choice would actually affect basic features.

  • Windows: PuTTY, followed by Cygwin's own terminal.
    MacOS: iTerm. It what the Terminal is supposed to be.
    Linux: rxvt-unicode. It's a classic terminal, but it's just a terminal. Nothing more, nothing less. XTerm is just too bloated.

  • step up to the adult table and get real. Ive long since given up my old terminal emulator for a much more purist representation of interaction with the kernel. using two 45lb electromagnets, one strapped to each hand, I pedal a small generator with my feet and vary the field strength between the two accordingly to properly submit cpu bytecode to the ALU. to check uptime I measure and record the number of rotations of the cpu fan using an inductive loop wound around my tongue. mainstream users will balk
  • by cerberusss ( 660701 ) on Friday November 13, 2015 @04:46PM (#50925327) Homepage Journal

    I use Cathode [], a fully-working terminal emulator that visually looks like an old black-and-green CRT monitor.

    I like OS X best when it's running Cathode at full-screen. I use the demo version, that starts sputtering and flaking more and more over time. So that fucking $3500 company-issued MacBook with 16 GB RAM, 1 TB SSD and 2,8 GHz quad-core Intel i7 looks nothing more than a flickering and dying pile of barely glowing phosphorous horse-shit.

    • i've tried cathode. once the novelty wore off and there were no more people around to show it off to, i stopped using it because of the same reasons we stopped using flickering monochrome CRT monitors.

      • Totally agree, the novelty quickly wore off. I use iTerm2; whenever I get a fresh install of OS X, I run my installation script. It consists of a bunch of calls to "brew install" and " brew cask install". iTerm gets installed as one of the first.

  • I work as a consultant and I have to use Windows as my primary OS due to software requirements. I also have to manage session data for hundreds of customers, and even more devices, so I choose SecureCRT. It lets me store sessions in a tree structure and also has the ability to store credentials (use with care) and automate logins via functionality similar to expect.

  • ~/.Xdefaults

    xterm*font: -xos4-terminus-bold-r-normal-*-28-*-*-*-*-*-*-* xterm*saveLines: 2000 xterm*foreground: rgb:ff/ff/ff xterm*background: rgb:00/00/00 xft.dpi: 120 xft.hinting:1
  • I really like Tom Brennan's Vista TN3270. http://www.tombrennansoftware.... [] The scripting language is simple yet powerful, and the fonts are really easy to read.
  • by jon3k ( 691256 )
    Specifically urxvt256c. dwm [] with rxvt is a beautiful thing.
  • Allows all of the Emacs search/copy/paste/etc. functions.

    Killer feature is: run a command with 40 pages of output; do incremental backwards search to jump to different things. (Optionally copy a section of output and paste into another Emacs buffer.) All without having to touch the mouse.

    Many people don't realize how much time they waste visually scanning lengthy output without that feature (and grep is frequently not a good substitute for searching.)
  • I use RealTerm, but that's probably not what you're asking for.
  • So for various unfortunate reasons, I've recently had to have Windows on my system. I struggled a long time before settling on my strategy:
    Install latest git for windows, git bash comes with the right sort of mintty with a shell that behaves sane with respect to Windows conventions while having bash. I go into settings and enable the ctl-shift shortcuts and off I go. No tabs, but otherwise makes me not miss the Linux terminals as badly.

    Things I tried but did not like:
    PuTTY: Obviously, no local capabilit

  • I use mintty with Cygwin on Windows 7. mintty was originally developed from PuTTY. It's clean and robust. It recently got a new maintainer and started seeing updates, and the new maintainer added in my favorite removed feature that I had asked about 3-4 years ago. I use it all the time at home and at work.

  • That's not a terminal. Now THIS is a terminal: []

  • DECterm: the closest to a VT320 you can get on X11

  • The few times I need a terminal emulator, I fire up my VT220. Yes, I do it for shits and giggles - though it does work wonderfully well and has a very comfortable "UI".

    From this you can conclude that I don't do computers as a job, since a VT220 would not be exactly ultra-portable ;)

  • Once I started using GNOME 2.x I started using Gnome Terminal. I quickly grew to love having a terminal emulator with multiple tabs. I am still using it (well, now it's MATE Terminal) but I also use tmux to have multiple windows per tab.

    Each tab is a different computer. Tab 1 is generally the local computer upon which I am working; then tabs 2 through whatever are the various remote machines. I ssh to the remote machine, then run tmux and open as many windows as I need.

    tmux is essential so that I can pi

  • My favorite is whatever but se the font to OCR-A and the colors to green on black... ahhhh. much better :-)

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.