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.