A terminal emulator is computer software which emulates a dumb video terminal within some other display architecture.
The terminal window allows the user to access a console and all its applications such as command line interfaces (CLI) and text user interface software. Even with the sophistication of modern desktop environments packed with administrative tools, other utilities, and productivity software all sporting attractive graphical user interfaces, it remains the case that some tasks are still best undertaken with the command line.
Modern desktop environments come supplied with a number of terminal emulators already installed. In the case of GNOME, KDE, and XFCE (three popular desktop environments), the user is offered GNOME Terminal, Konsole, and Terminal respectively as the default terminal emulator. However, this does not necessarily mean that the pre-selected terminal emulator is best suited for your own specific requirements or your hardware.
There are a large number of terminal emulators to choose from, some offering a huge range of features, others aiming to be frugal with system resources. To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 26 excellent Linux terminal emulators. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone interested in exploiting the power of the shell. We capture our recommendations in the chart below.
Let’s explore the 26 terminal emulators at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.
There are other terminal emulators available of course. Some of them are forks of the software featured here, adding little of real value.
|Tabby||(Terminus) Highly configurable terminal emulator, SSH and serial client|
|Hyper||Terminal emulator built with web technologies|
|urxvt||RXVT-like terminal emulator with Unicode support|
|Alacritty||Hardware-accelerated terminal emulator|
|Tilix||Advanced GTK3 tiling emulator|
|Kitty||Like Alacritty, Kitty offers hardware acceleration|
|Guake||Drop-down terminal for GNOME|
|Termite||Keyboard-centric VTE-based terminal|
|Terminator||Multiple GNOME terminals in one window|
|st||Simple terminal implementation for X which sucks less|
|WezTerm||GPU-accelerated cross-platform terminal emulator and multiplexer|
|xterm||Provides DEC VT102 and Tektronix 4014 compatible terminals|
|Tilda||Gtk based drop down terminal|
|Extraterm||Swiss army chainsaw of terminal emulators|
|GNOME Terminal||Terminal emulator for the GNOME desktop environment|
|DomTerm||Terminal emulator, REPL console, and screen multiplexer|
|contour||Aimed at power users with a modern feature mindset|
|foot||Fast, lightweight and minimalistic Wayland terminal emulator|
|Xfce Terminal||Lightweight and easy to use terminal emulator application|
|Terminology||Fast, lean and visually enhanced open source terminal emulator|
|Konsole||The KDE 4 terminal emulator|
|Yakuake||Drop-down terminal emulator based on KDE Konsole technology|
|Sakura||Vte-based terminal emulator|
|kermit||VTE-based, simple and froggy terminal emulator|
|ROXTerm||VTE terminal emulator with tabs|
|LXTerminal||Lightweight terminal emulator based on GTK+ for the LXDE desktop|
|Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.
There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.