26 Best Free Linux Terminal Emulators (Updated 2023)

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.

Ratings chart for best free and open source terminal emulators

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.

Terminal Emulators
Tabby(Terminus) Highly configurable terminal emulator, SSH and serial client
HyperTerminal emulator built with web technologies
urxvtRXVT-like terminal emulator with Unicode support
AlacrittyHardware-accelerated terminal emulator
TilixAdvanced GTK3 tiling emulator
KittyLike Alacritty, Kitty offers hardware acceleration
GuakeDrop-down terminal for GNOME
TermiteKeyboard-centric VTE-based terminal
TerminatorMultiple GNOME terminals in one window
stSimple terminal implementation for X which sucks less
WezTermGPU-accelerated cross-platform terminal emulator and multiplexer
xtermProvides DEC VT102 and Tektronix 4014 compatible terminals
TildaGtk based drop down terminal
ExtratermSwiss army chainsaw of terminal emulators
GNOME TerminalTerminal emulator for the GNOME desktop environment
DomTermTerminal emulator, REPL console, and screen multiplexer
contourAimed at power users with a modern feature mindset
footFast, lightweight and minimalistic Wayland terminal emulator
Xfce TerminalLightweight and easy to use terminal emulator application
TerminologyFast, lean and visually enhanced open source terminal emulator
KonsoleThe KDE 4 terminal emulator
YakuakeDrop-down terminal emulator based on KDE Konsole technology
SakuraVte-based terminal emulator
kermitVTE-based, simple and froggy terminal emulator
ROXTermVTE terminal emulator with tabs
LXTerminalLightweight terminal emulator based on GTK+ for the LXDE desktop
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead 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.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Hyper is like a gift that just keeps on giving.

2 years ago
Reply to  Steak'n'Chips

Agreed, Hyper is my favorite going. It has a mighty 36.500 GitHub stars.

2 years ago

In the GitHub stakes:

Tabby – 19k
Hyper – 36.6k
Alacritty – 34.3k
Tilix – 4.6k
Kitty – 12k

2 years ago
Reply to  RustyN

GitHub stars are not a reliable indicator of quality remember.