A range of Linux terminal programs are at the ready to speed up navigation, configuration and more.
Despite the huge leaps forward for the Linux GUI in recent years, Linux is still sometimes best controlled through a command line -- the heritage on which all GUIs are built. Sometimes a quick sequence of commands is faster than any file manager, or an easier way to see system statistics or update configuration files. And naturally, of course, it's also often the best method for following tutorials involving the installing of new programs and features.
Why restrict yourself to a console window? Guake provides a drop-down console inspired by the game Quake.
And that's just if you're a casual command-line user. Advanced Linux geeks use a GUI as a complement to the command line, not the other way around, doing everything but browsing the web in it (although you can do that too -- check out 'lynx' if you want to see what the world wide web looks like without graphics!).
So if you're going to use Linux for any length of time you might as well use a terminal program that's comfortable to work in -- how it looks, what features it offers and even how fast it is.
So what are some of the options?
GNOME Terminal is the default for GNOME and GNOME-based distributions, including Ubuntu. It's a stable workhorse although traditionally it hasn't been the fastest console to use (this might seem insignificant, but it can have an impact on the speed of tasks like decompression of files).
GNOME Terminal sports features like transparency for that extra slick look (though usually anything more than 40% can make text hard to read) and also supports tabs for combining multiple terminals into one window. A full screen mode with F11 allows you to quickly switch for more terminal space when you need it, and the scrollback buffer can be set to unlimited, which is a nice touch if you're doing a lot of work. It's a good terminal, but it's not the only option.
Konsole is the default terminal for KDE and KDE-based distributions, including Kubuntu. It's fast, supports tabs and of course integrates seamlessly with the KDE's Plasma Desktop. It includes a number of unique features such as the ability to monitor for activity (watching a log file, for example) and saving the entire output of a tab to a file. It also sports transparency, unlimited scrollback and the ability to split tabs into a combined view, much like Terminator (below). It's perhaps the most full-featured terminal covered here, but of course requires KDE. However, KDE programs can still be used with GNOME desktops (and GNOME with KDE) as long as the required dependencies are installed.
Guake is a GNOME-based terminal inspired by and named after the console in the game Quake by id software. It was one of the first games to integrate a command console, largely for development and debugging, triggered by pressing the tilde ('`') key. Guake borrows this premise to provide a dropdown console on demand, using the F12 key (though this is configurable). For extra effect it can be toggled to animate as it drops down and rolls up, and can be set to any vertical percentage of your screen. Setting it to about 40-60% gives you plenty of space to work while keeping your desktop visible, especially when you have transparency enabled.
Guake is our personal favourite and once you start using it, calling up a console via your distribution's menu or Dash equivalent just seems unwieldy.
An alternative to Guake is Tilda (appropriately named given the inspiration of these terminals) though Guake is generally considered the better of the two. And KDE is not without its alternative either -- Yakuake is the KDE-based version of Guake.
Terminator, aside from conjuring up images of Arnie, is a great terminal because rather than providing a multi-terminal tab system like GNOME Terminal or Konsole, instead all open consoles can be displayed in the one window. This way you can relocate your console window and resize where it fits best on your desktop, while keeping all open terminals visible within it. Very useful for those times you need to run a couple of commands or functions side by side without the hassle of switching tabs. Even better, while it doesn't sport Unity's Global Menu (not that you really need it), it does inherit GNOME Terminal's profile features so you can set transparency or infinite scrollback support.
xterm is the original terminal, lightweight and basic, but a lifesaver when you don't have a GUI like GNOME or KDE available -- xterm comes with X11 itself, so even in a 'safe mode' of just X11 on a system, you can still get a shell from X11 without needing to go full screen with Alt-F1 to F6. There are no fancy features like transparency, but it's fast and effective. If you want to see what a terminal was like in the olden days, run 'xterm' from the console or Unity Dash to launch it.
There are of course more than just the above that you can try, although these are the most recognised options. Search for 'term' in the Ubuntu Software Centre and you'll find most of them. Have fun at the console!
Hints and tipsSet a longer scrollback buffer size
If you're doing a lot of work at the terminal and working with files, it's often quite handy to be able to see output further back.Try a different terminal font
Most consoles will use the default fonts of your distribution, but these are often anti-aliased fonts which can sometimes be harder to read at smaller point sizes and aren't always fixed-width. Great fonts to try include Terminus and Inconsolata (search for both in Ubuntu's Software Centre to install). Then load up your terminal of choice and change the font via its settings.GNOME Terminal and MC
Midnight Commander is an excellent console-based file manager that makes it easy to copy, view and edit files. By default the key to exit MC and return to the prompt is F10, which is also the key GNOME Terminal uses to bring up its (rarely used) menu. To fix this in GNOME Terminal click 'Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts' and deselect 'Enable the menu shortcut key'.