Get To Know Linux: gnome-terminal

Jack Wallen
Feb 6, 2009
Updated • Jul 8, 2014

If you use Linux for any amount of time, then most likely you have experienced the command line. And if you use the GNOME desktop environment then you know gnome-terminal. As far as terminals are concerned, gnome-terminal is one of the most versatile of the terminals. It features tabs, colored text, mouse event support, profiles, real transparency, compositing, and more. And of course you get glorious Linux commands!

The gnome-terminal comes pre-installed with any GNOME desktop installation, so if you're running GNOME you won't have to do any further installation. You might, however, want to undertake some configuration changes. We'll examine some of those options here.

Default gnome-terminal Window
Default gnome-terminal Window

When you start up the gnome-terminal you will be greeted by the default profile with a single tab open.

The default features you will notice immediately are the menu bar and the scroll bar. Outside of the bash prompt, the menu bar will be where you take care of most of your gnome-terminal business. Let's examine what you will find in each menu entry:

File: In this menu entry you can open/close a new tab, open/close a new terminal, and/or create a new profile.

Edit: In this menu entry you can copy/paste, edit your profiles, and/or configure keyboard shortcuts.

View: In this menu entry you can configure gnome-terminal to show/hide the menubar, and/or the scrollbar or you can zoom in or out.

Terminal: In this menu entry you can change your profile, change your window title, set character encoding, reset your terminal, and/or reset and clear your terminal.

Tabs: In this menu entry you can cycle through your open tabs and/or detach a tab (so it is its own window).

Help: In this menu entry you can open up the GNOME Help system to learn about gnome-terminal and you can open the "about gnome-terminal" window.

That's it for the tabs.

As I mentioned, the gnome-terminal is fairly configurable. You can make this terminal as minimal as you like. You can remove the scrollbar and the menubar if you like. To do this click on the View menu and de-select both the scrollbar and the menubar. What that leaves you with is nothing more than a terminal prompt in a window. Or does it? If you right click anywhere in the gnome-terminal window a menu will appear. From that menu you can select to, once again, show the menubar. Once the menubar is back you can then select to show the scrollbar.


One of the nicest aspects of the gnome-terminal is that you can create profiles. Each profile can reflect, say, a different job. Say you want to have a root user profile. This can make for an easy way to instantly know you are using the root user (so you don't commit any command-line fouls that could damage your system). To create a new profile click on File and then select New Profile.  What you will see is a small window asking you to name the new profile and base the new profile on a pre-existing profile.

Once the new profile is named the main Profile editor window will appear where you can really tweak your profile. There are six tabs within the Profile editor:

General: Configure the general options such as name, font, show menubar, terminal bell.

Title and Command: Give this profile an initial title and run custom commands (such as automatically listing directory contents when a profile is opened.)

Colors: Foreground and background colors.

Background: Configure a background image or window transparency.

Scrolling: Place the scroll bar and define how far back it will scroll.

Compatibility: Configure the backspace and delete keys.

Final thoughts

I have used many terminals in my day, but the gnome-terminal is one of the finest. Not only is it very compatible, it is useful and user-friendly. If you use the GNOME desktop (or an alternative desktop), make sure you get to know gnome-terminal for all your command line goodness.


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  1. jack said on February 6, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    iampriteshdesai: shift-ctrl-v will work. if you go into keyboard shortcuts (you can get to that from the Edit menu) you can change this to ctrl-v.

  2. Mark Sanborn said on February 6, 2009 at 7:00 pm


    You can paste text into the terminal with ctrl + shift + v

    This is one of the reasons why gnome terminal is better than the kde one.


  3. iampriteshdesai said on February 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Can I get the Ctrl+V shortcut to work in it?

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