‘Terra’ Is a new Terminal Emulator with ‘dropdown’ Support

Despite of having gorgeous looking desktop environments, because the operating system’s core foundation lies in the command-line, desktops in GNU/Linux, still come with at least one utility that emulates the original command-line, known as the ‘Terminal emulator’.

Gnome calls it ‘Gnome Terminal’, in KDE it is called ‘Konsole’, LXDE has ‘LXTerminal’ etc. Though nowadays, they all come with few universal features, depending on few other unique ones, ‘Terminal emulators’ can be further categorized as well.

For example, there are special kind of emulators that supports splitting up the screen, which are heavily used by system administrators. And there are also the ones that support a feature called ‘dropdown’, they are again, very popular among the heavy desktop multitaskers, as this feature lets the Terminal emulator to be easily hidden, by using a keyboard shortcut.


For instance, say that while using the web browser, I wanted to quickly issue a command. Then rather than going through the hassle of using my mouse to open the Terminal window, if it supported ‘dropdown’, then I could simply press its keyboard shortcut (usually a single key) and that will open and bring its window to the front. When I’m done, then I can press the same keyboard shortcut and it will be hidden.

Anyway, there are few existing ones such as ‘Tildda’, ‘Guake’, ‘Yakuake’ etc but, if you want to try something new, then you can try the newly introduced ‘Terra’. It comes with few features that some other ‘dropdown’ emulators do not have as well (including splitting the screen).

For example, it hides its window controls by default, but you can also enable showing them. And then, you can use it like a standard Terminal emulator (minimize, maximize, close), but as soon as you press the shortcut key it will be hidden automatically. Or in other words, you can use it as a standard Terminal emulator that can be hidden by the press of a button :).

Using the ‘Preferences’ window, from the right click context menu, you can:


*. Enable/Disable loading it on System startup (including showing or hiding the window).

*. Split the screen Vertically and Horizontally.

*. Copy and Paste commands (does not support keyboard shortcuts).

*. Run in Full-screen or Windowed mode (‘F11′).

*. Change where it appear on your screen (Vertically & Horizontally :’Top’, ‘Center’, ‘Bottom’, ‘Left’, ‘Center’ and ‘Right’).

*. Change the Width and the Height.

*. Show/Hide window borders.

*. Supports tabs.

*. Automatically hides its window upon losing the ‘focus’ (can be disabled).

*. Change fonts, background colors, add transparency, change keyboard shortcuts and a few more.

Note: Probably because it is new and due to a bug, it has another option that lets you hide its window being displayed once opened in the ‘Window list’ area (I’m using Linux Mint 14). Once enabled this, I could not open it (F12) anymore!. So I manually terminated its process and restarted it and it seems to have fixed it. So if you enable that too, then you can logout and re-login to the desktop as a fix.

Also, whenever I open a new tab, it is not selected by default. Therefore, once opened a new tab, I have to click on it, before I can issue a command (once this is performed, it stays selected until you reboot the PC). So hopefully ‘Özcan ESEN’ (developer) will take care of these issues (the main window — tab, is also affected by this).

Though not exactly lightweight, the memory usage is also seems pretty decent (around 13-20 MB, excluding the ‘bash’ which is about 1.3MB — the real emulation ‘engine’).

How to install it?

You can install ‘Terra’ in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 12.10 Quental Quetzal, 13.04 Raring Ringtail and Linux Mint 14 by using the below commands.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ozcanesen/terra-terminal

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install terra

Then the first time, make sure to search for it in the ‘Dash’ if you are using Ubuntu or in the ‘Start Menu’ (for Linux Mint). Then you can use the ‘F12’ for showing and hiding it. Make sure the option called ‘Run on Startup’ (‘Preferences’ -> ‘General’) is enabled.

That’s it! (a thanks goes to ‘Özcan ESEN’ for creating it). Good luck.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

9 thoughts on “‘Terra’ Is a new Terminal Emulator with ‘dropdown’ Support”

  1. Hey man, been looking for a way to contact you personally but just wanted to say I love the site and have learned a lot from reading your posts. I’m learning my way around Linux and have loved it ever since making the switch from Windows and Mac. If there is a way I can contact you concerning personal questions, please let me know cause I can use all the help I can get lol. Thanks bro.

    • Hi ‘Joshua’,

      Sorry about the late response :).

      Anyway, it is difficult for me to find the time to answer questions personally. Sorry about that mate.

      However, you can always use the comment section, and it’s okay if your question has nothing to do with the post itself, just throw in a comment and I’ll try my best.

      • Right on man. I do have a question concerning backups. I’m trying to backup all my music on my Ubuntu laptop. I have a rocstor portable hard drive and it contains some files from my Mac (I have another question concerning my pics on it as well). I have tried just dragging my music folder over to my hard drive, but it says it is read-only. So I go to permissions and it says I am not the owner and can’t change the permissions. What do I do? My music is really the only thing on my laptop that I need backed up. The thing with my pictures from my Mac is that most of the .jpg have an X and I can open or view them. I haven’t lost my pictures have I? If not, do you know how I can open them? Thanks a ton man.

  2. @Joshua,

    First of all, I have never used a Mac before!. So I am kind a trapped while answering the question 🙂 .

    Anyway …

    Question 1 (file copy issue)

    If you have formatted this HDD in Mac, then it might be a ‘HFS Plus’ (HFS+) file system. If that is the case, then by default Ubuntu mounts ‘HFS Plus’ file systems read-only, and that should be the reason why you cannot copy the ‘Music’ folder to that hard disk drive.

    The reason why Ubuntu does that is because ‘HFS Plus’ comes with a feature called ‘journaling’. It is not something unique to that file system, but is a common feature to newer file systems that enhances the integrity of the data.

    Anyhow, the only way you can mount HFS Plus file system in Ubuntu with read-write is by disabling the ‘journaling’ feature. However, it is there to enhance the data integrity and is recommended not to disable it. If you are still interested, then the only way to disable the ‘journaling’ feature is thourgh a Mac operating system. So, if you haven’t completely gotten rid of the Mac OS X or have access to one, then you can follow the below guidlines to disable it.


    Once that is done, re-attach that HDD to Ubuntu and you should now be able to access it with read-write permissions and should slove the issue (hopefully).

    But since disabling the journal has its drawbacks, and if you are moving towards Ubuntu as the primary OS, then I recommed you to create a HDD partition with a native GNU/Linux file system (ext4). However, then if you use Windows and Mac OS X, you will not be able access it! (there are tools … but some only allow read-only access).

    So the best solution is to create a partition that all of these OSs support, such as FAT 32. But because it is an old FS, it has drawbacks and is more prove to data corrpution. You can also try NTFS which Ubuntu supports (read and write permissions). But I have had issues after copying data to NTFS from Ubuntu (not being able to access them in Windows!).

    So the best solution would be to use a USB drive formatted with FAT 32 and use it as a medium to backup the data on Ubuntu and then you can open it in any other OS and copy the data into the HDD from it…

    Question 2 (picture issue)

    Your images should be fine, but the reason that there is an ‘X’ is because you don’t have permissions to access them. I’m guessing that they are in your user’s folder in Mac OS X. The only way you can access them is by changing the permissions and for that, as mentioned above, you will have to mount that partition with read-write access Or,

    If you still have your Mac OS, then you can change the permissions on that folder so others can have read-only access (at least) to them. Hope this helps.

    Anyway, for future references, you can ask Ubuntu related questions in the below websites. Because they larger communities, not only your questions will be answers much quicker, but they have a wide range of users (as in this example, my zero experience with Mac OS is an issue) therefore they can give answers with more accuracy. So below are the links (sorry I forgot to mention them earlier 😀 ).



  3. I love terra terminal! Im sure this is possible but I just don’t know how to do it: when my ubuntu box starts up I have it set up to run several bash scripts that run programs in the gnome terminal, so they run but I can also monitor them from the terminal windows. This is great but it clutters up my desktop with windows and ohhh wouldn’t it be so nice if I could have all of them run in tiles on terra. Does anyone have any ideas how I can accomplish this?

  4. 4The description looks good but the PPA does not work on my Mint 17 install.

    I am getting this … (below). That normally means the apt-get config or the server config is off. Either way, can’t use terminal program.

    For an install I get …

    > Err http://ppa.launchpad.net trusty/main Sources
    > 404 Not Found


    • Hi,

      Unfortunately, it seems to be unmaintained now and there are no packages for Linux Mint 17. Sorry about that. You can try ‘Tilda’, if you’re merely looking for a drop-down terminal emulator. Use the below command to install it:

      sudo apt-get install tilda


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