The Top 15 Best Linux Terminal Emulators
The command line is the core of Linux-based operating systems. Unlike other OSes, Linux distros are more dependent on the terminal to carry out administrative tasks. Also, Linux users prefer it due to its better performance and power-user feel.
The terminal comes pre-installed in most Linux distros. However, you might not get many customization options and advanced functionality with the default one. That’s where the alternatives come into play—these terminal emulators provide extra features and customizations to enhance your Linux experience.
So, let’s look at 15 of the best terminal emulators for Linux that you can use for free.
Alacritty is a lightweight terminal focused on performance. It provides a clean material design look. Being reliant on GPU for rendering, it offers faster speed. This helps avoid unwanted delays while removing an app or creating a folder.
Alacritty is open-source and readily available on all major Linux distros. If you have an older PC, this app will be a step towards a better command-line experience.
Download: Alacritty (Free)
Yakuake is inspired by a game called Quake from the 70s. It allows you to open the terminal in a drop-down fashion using a single button, which is faster than any keyboard shortcut.
The emulator provides a decent tabbed interface. You can customize its colors and look by adding various skins. Yakuake, based on KDE Konsole technology, focuses on performance. It is helpful for you if you often switch between the terminal and GUI apps. The app also allows you to change its drop-down animation speed and dimensions.
Download: Yakuake (Free)
Terminator is one of the top terminal emulators out there and is a feature-packed alternative on the list. It offers handy features like grouping multiple open windows, changing the app’s behavior, such as its size, position, hints, and more, and changing its color and appearance to make the terminal more attractive.
Terminator also allows you to add plugins such as logger, activity watch, etc. If you use a shared PC, you can make multiple profiles according to your preferences.
Download: Terminator (Free)
Similar to Yakuake, Guake is also inspired by Quake. It helps make terminal access easy and fast by offering a drop-down command line. The emulator is pretty lightweight. Hence, it is efficient in terms of performance.
You can also customize Guake to a great deal. It offers various themes and lets you enable pop-up notifications and alert sounds, adjust the scrollbar, change fonts and cursor styles, and more.
Guake also allows you to configure keyboard shortcuts for various operations. You can also change your default shell on Linux if you want.
Download: Guake (Free)
Tilda has a minimal design that helps you stay focused. It has many useful customization features such as window display, terminal display, font setting, commands behavior, and more. The app also has a drop-down feature like Yakuake.
Tilda offers a keybinding feature to assign shortcut keys to different operations. You can also customize the appearance of the terminal through colors, font, positions, and tabs. Moreover, it also lets you set the transparency level of the app.
Download: Tilda (Free)
Tilix is a powerful and feature-packed terminal for Linux distributions. This terminal emulator supports custom titles and hyperlinks. Moreover, you can save the group of active terminals and reload them from the disk.
Tilix allows you to arrange various terminal windows vertically or horizontally through drag-and-drop actions. The terminals synchronize with each other, which helps increase productivity.
Download: Tilix (Free)
st has a minimal design and focuses on providing the necessary functionality. Its goal is to provide a minimal and extensible terminal experience.
The app provides features such as easy clipboard handling to copy and paste content across windows, resizing the terminal, wide character support, and mouse shortcuts.
st is fast and efficient, and it can be handy if you are an advanced user. You can also customize it to a great extent by creating a “config.h” file.
The app can be slightly complicated to install, however. You can refer to the video above for guidance.
Download: st (Free)
Terminology is another terminal for Linux that comes with some solid features by default. It allows you to copy and paste things across the terminal quickly. The mini view feature lets you see a mini pop-up of the terminal on the screen. Overall, the emulator has a clean design and enlightened interface.
Terminology also allows splitting the terminals. You can change the default cursor, color, background, font, theme behaviors, and much more.
Download: Terminology (Free)
xterm is a lightweight alternative for your default Linux terminal emulator. It allows you to work on multiple terminal windows simultaneously on different processes.
The emulator has a minimal interface. It offers an old-school look as it was first developed in the 90s. xterm is useful for all basic terminal operations. On older devices, it provides efficient performance.
Download: xterm (Free)
Extraterm takes your terminal experience to the next level. It allows you to work effortlessly with command-line applications, and the GPU-accelerated rendering makes it fast.
Extraterm also provides features such as searching between the commands, adjusting the text by zoom, integrating with the shell, and much more.
Download: Extraterm (Free)
cool-retro-term is a good option if you are bored with the traditional black-screen terminals. It provides an old cathode-ray tube screen appearance.
The emulator is highly customizable. You can change its colors, size, fonts, and behavior. cool-retro-term provides all essential terminal functions. In addition, it lets you customize the interface with pre-set profiles. The app is available for all major Linux distros.
Download: cool-retro-term (Free)
12. GNOME Terminal
GNOME Terminal is the default terminal in GNOME, the leading Linux desktop environment. It provides good integration with GNOME apps, and to be honest, a list of the best terminal emulators would be incomplete without it.
You can also customize this emulator with solarized colors, and it lets you open and manage multiple tabs easily. You get good performance metrics too. And additionally, the app also offers a keybinding feature that allows assigning custom operations to certain keys.
Download: GNOME Terminal (Free)
Konsole is one of the most advanced and best Linux terminal emulators out there. It is the default terminal emulator that ships with the KDE desktop environment.
The emulator has a lot of advanced features, such as support for hyperlinks and an “edit and view” feature to make the command line experience less complex. You can also scroll to unlimited depth.
Konsole allows you to customize the background of the terminal. It provides a bookmarks feature as well. You can open a new terminal window or clone an existing one. Moreover, the app also lets you export a copy of the terminal screen in PDF format.
Download: Konsole (Free)
14. Xfce Terminal
Xfce Terminal is a lightweight terminal that comes pre-installed on the Xfce desktop. It consumes less memory and, therefore, is useful for older devices.
You can customize the interface of the terminal to your taste. Xfce Terminal also offers keybinding features, just like some of the other emulators on this list. You can also choose from various colors to personalize the terminal to your liking.
Xfce Terminal also allows you to use multiple tabs within a single window. In addition, you can adjust the aspect ratio of the window.
Download: Xfce Terminal (Free)
LXTerminal is another terminal emulator optimized for performance and low resource usage. It provides all the necessary features you expect from a terminal emulator.
You can open multiple tabs and group them the way you want. All the instances share a single process, so the performance is much more efficient.
LXTerminal is open-source and available across all major Linux distros. It is helpful for users with low-end devices.
Download: LXTerminal (Free)
Take Your Terminal Experience to the Next Level
The default terminal found on Linux desktops is powerful, but there’s no harm in adding more features to your arsenal. The terminal apps mentioned above take your command-line experience to the next level with added functionality and customization features. Try out a couple of these apps to find the one you like.
If you’re looking to increase productivity while using the command line, there are some terminal apps that help you do so.