It’s Time To Introduce You To The Terminator!

Today’s article is about one of my favorite terminal emulators, Terminator. Terminator is one of my favorite terminal emulators, and I’d like to use this opportunity to expose more users to it. For lack of a better category, we’ll say this is a review. Why not? It’s my site, I’ll call it a review if I wanna! I’ll make it a review!

So, we call it a terminal emulator because it emulates the terminals of old, back when terminals were the main way for a person to interface with their computer. They are not true terminals, but they perform similar functions. Long gone are the days of just green-screens. Today, we have graphical user environments and there’s less focus on the terminal for some folks. From here on out, I’ll just be calling it ‘terminal’ for simplicity and brevity sake.

There are some die-hard folks who still cling to the terminal – and I’m one of them, at least for certain tasks. At any given moment, I have at least two terminal instances open, each a different piece of software. One of those is usually Xfce4 and the other is often Terminator. Today’s article is about the latter.

Chances are good that you can install Terminator with ease. It’s likely in your default repositories. For example, on Ubuntu you’d install it with this command:

Go ahead, give it a shot… If not immediately available, you can look here for more information. If you’re really energetic, you can read the documentation. In this case, it’s going to be a positive review (obviously), so I’d not recommend it (such as I am) if I wasn’t a fan… So…

Why Terminator:

You’ll not be even remotely surprised when you open Terminator for the first time, and that’s a good thing. You’ll see your standard terminal looking thing, complete with a title bar. Truthfully, it’s kinda ugly looking until you make it your own (more on that in a minute). It looks like this:

terminator terminal emulator in its naked form
Terminal (terminal emulator) without any customizations.

What you’re looking for is in the right mouse-button click – the preferences menu. Once you open that, you’ll see all sorts of options.  

Once in the options, you’ll start to understand why I like Terminator. You can make it visually appealing, use multiple tabs, group tabs, auto-run commands when opened, and have all the various profiles you could possibly want. If you’re working on multiple servers at the same time, this is definitely a great help.

You have infinite theme options, but there are a number of them that are built in – the standard types like solarized dark or light. If I’m not taking screenshots, I like mine to look like this:

terminator with a thene
As I’m often in a dark room, this is excellent for my eyes.

That is so much nicer on my eyes. And, if the Terminator theme didn’t clue you in, yes I am using a computer that I don’t normally use. It’s a long story, but nothing is broken beyond my ‘net connection. But, that’s why the screenshots look different. I am also using Flameshot instead of my beloved Shutter.

So, that’s not enough? Seriously – go through and check the preferences. You have global options and then you have all sorts of preferences that you can pick – each contained in their own distinct profiles. When you get to the profiles, you’ll see how much customization is really possible. Allow me to show you:

terminator has options - lots of them
As you can see, there are a whole lot of options with Terminator.

What does Terminator offer? A whole lot… Not only are there tabs, you can set it up in a more traditional grid fashion. These layouts can be moved with drag-and-drop. The list of keyboard shortcuts is extensive – and you can probable tell I’m just reciting the documentation. Layouts are even saved from session to session.

But Wait, there’s more!

Anyhow, all those preferences, not just layouts, can be saved from session to session. Once you get it configured the way you want, it’ll let you retain those settings. Many of these are all extensions of the profiles feature, so it’s highly customized if you want it to be.

I especially like the individual profiles – not seen on this computer’s screenshot. If I paid a bit more attention, I could just copy the config from ~/.config/terminator, but I’m slacking and this situation is temporary. (I’m amazed that I’ve still been able to keep up my publication schedule!) I did not, so you get a different set of screenshots.

If you want, you can even find plugins for Terminator. You can write your own, if such is your desire. If you click here, you’ll see a bunch of plugins that you can use to extend Terminator even further. (Quite a few plugins exist, so do check the link.)

Note: I also wrote an article explaining how to change your default terminal.

As I said, there are quite a few plugins and some of them are quite useful – especially for system admins and programmers, or DevOps folks I guess. They’re universally free, in every sense of the word. They’re also easy to install – just drop them into ~/.config/terminator/plugins/ and they’ll be available to enable from the preferences menu.

If nothing else, go ahead and install Terminator to see if you like it. I dare say that you won’t be disappointed, unless you’ve got some weird edge-case and even then it’s about the best you’re going to get.

Rating Terminator:

Terminator does everything you can want in a terminal, more or less. If it doesn’t do what you want, plugins are easily developed and someone else may have scratched that itch for you already.

I honestly can’t think of anything it’s missing that I personally need or want. It can be a bit boxy and the look is dated, but it should match your theme fairly well, or better if you do some work customizing it.

I appreciate how easy it is to configure it to work with my eyesight. I’m partially colorblind (not the way you’re probably thinking) and have difficulties with the spaces between the primary colors. I can see green, but yellow-green may appear as either yellow or green to me. So, some of the themes (again, you can customize them as much as you desire) are wonderful for my eyes.

Yeah, try as I might, I just can’t think of anything bad to say about it. I’m reluctant to give anything a 10/10, but this is really close to being the perfect application for the task it is designed for. I’d even go so far as saying that it’s feature-complete, but some folks must not agree ’cause they keep writing plugins and that means they want more features.

So, I’m going to give this a 9.5 out of 10. That’s the highest I’ve ever rated anything on this site and I’d not expect to see that score for anything else. I knock the 0.5 because obviously people expect more from it – options they feel should be defaults. A few of the plugins are indeed handy (even to me, a simplistic user). Yeah, I’ll knock off the points for that. That sounds good. It gets a 9.5/10. That’s pretty much a gold medal winner, right there!

Closure:

And there you have it… You have another article – this one a review, and a review of not just one of my favorite pieces of software but of a piece of software I use many, many times a day. Even if you have a favorite terminal, give Terminator a try. You won’t be disappointed – probably… If you are, you’re just weird!

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Today, We Have Fun In The Linux Terminal

Today, we will learn nothing of value – except how to have fun in the Linux terminal. You know what they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So, today we’ll be doing some playing.

Why? Well, because it’s fun. There are a number of fun things you can do in the Linux terminal, but this article is only going to cover a few of them. All of these are harmless, some perhaps even fun to share with a co-worker (perhaps even mischievously) and some just to make you smile.

For the sake of brevity, I’m just going to write this from the perspective of an Ubuntu user. You should be able to find equivalents for most every major distro, but that’s up to you. I mean, it’ll work in Debian and Mint etc, but you’ll have to hunt for yourself to find them in Arch, Fedora, or Gentoo!

So, without further ado…

Fun In The Linux Terminal:

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

Once you have your terminal open, let’s visit the Matrix!

cmatrix:

Start this off by installing ‘cmatrix’ with this command:

Next, in your terminal, type ‘cmatrix‘ and watch the screen. It’ll look something like this as the text flows by:

cmatrix in action
With the new Matrix coming out… Feel free to run this when nosy people look over your shoulder!

See the man page for more detailed usage. Or not… It’s just for fun!

sl (Steam Locomotive):

This one is for those times when you fat-finger ‘ls’ and type ‘sl’ by mistake. My screenshot abilities were lacking with this one. So, you’ll have to make do. 

To install ‘sl’, just do this:

The next time you mistype ‘ls’ you’ll see what it does. Of course you can just type ‘sl’ and not wait for it. If you do so, be prepared for a steam locomotive that looks a little like this:

sl in action
Choo choo!!! It makes a more complete train, I just suck with graphics.

That’s sure to brighten a day such as the one where you’d be mistyping ‘ls’. Who doesn’t like trains?!? Sad people. Sad people don’t like trains.

Toilet:

You’ll find that toilet is a free version of figlet, a tool for making text larger for things like banner printing. I don’t think too many people have printed banners since the end of the dot matrix era, but it’s fun to play around with in the terminal.

To install toilet, and its wonderfully juvenile name, you just use:

There are a number of advanced features, but you can just type ‘toilet <text>’ and press the enter button. For example, there’s this output:

toilet in action - showing large text
There you have it, a giant KGIII! Just what you wanted for your birthday!

Again, go through the man page for more options – like the ability to choose a font and size. Have fun with it!

Closure:

See? Just like I promised, you’ve learned nothing of value. You can use ‘sl’ on a co-worker, frighten people on a train with cmatrix, or make large ASCII text in the terminal to amuse yourself. Yup, nothing of value! You’re welcome!

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Let’s Learn How To Change The Default Terminal

There are many reasons why you may want to change your default terminal emulator. It’s actually nice easy to change the default terminal. This article explains how and anyone should be able to do it, even a beginner!

First, it’s often called a terminal emulator because it allows you to emulate the terminal in a graphical environment. There are other ways to refer to it, but just calling it the terminal is usually enough for all but the most pedantic. We’ll mostly just call it the terminal from here on out.

The people who put your distro together also picked the default terminal. It’s usually a basic terminal, and often just a terminal that has been around for a long time. That’s not a bad thing, but there may be better terminals than the default. There are terminals with all sorts of features, from multi-window terminals to terminals that support drag-and-drop!

Perhaps you might like XFCE-terminal, or you may prefer Terminator? Maybe you’d like Guake or TildeThe choices for new terminals are vast, and Wikipedia has a ton of them listed.

You can find even more by using your favorite search engine and searching for Linux terminals. Someone is always writing a new terminal and you can pick a new one to be your default terminal any time you want. There’s bound to be one out there ticks all your boxes.

If you want to open your default terminal, you can usually use your keyboard. Just press CTRL + ALT + T and it should open your terminal. If you don’t like the default, you can make any other terminal your default.

Change the Default Terminal:

For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll start with assuming you’re using Ubuntu and that you want to install Terminator and then set Terminator as the new default. However, aside from the initial installation command, it should work for other distros just fine. In fact, the installation command will work for most any distro that uses the apt package manager.

So, seeing as you opened the terminal up above, we’ll just skip right ahead to installing our example, Terminator:

Go ahead and let it finish the installation after you enter your password and agree to install it. Terminator should be in your default repositories and easily installed. This is true even if you’re not using Ubuntu or an Ubuntu derivative.

Once you’ve done that, you will need to set Terminator as the new default. To do that, run this command:

That should bring up some information that looks a little like this:

change default terminal emulator

From there you just pick the number of the terminal emulator you’d like to be the new default and press enter. That’s it. That’s all you should need to do.

You can test this by simply using your keyboard to open the default terminal like you did in the first section of this article. Once you’ve made the change, it should take effect immediately and the new default terminal should open up when you next open the terminal with the keyboard. You’ll still have the old links to the original default, but you can move those around at your leisure.

Closure:

And there you have it. That’s how you change your default terminal emulator. It’s not terribly difficult but it’s a quick and easy step you can take to make your Linux a little more customized, a little more something of your own. If you have any ideas for articles, feel free to leave a comment suggesting them. We’ll see what we can do!

Thanks for reading! It’s truly appreciated and there have been a lot of readers lately. If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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