Linux Mint 10 : Tantalizing terminals

5/23/2012 5:58:04 PM

David Hayward plays around with Linux, and manages to embed his terminal onto the desktop.

Why do we use Linux? Is it because of the security, or its inherent speed and functionality? Is it because it’s free and represents a great two-fingered salute to the corporate giant that is Microsoft? Or is it just because we love being different and having total control over our beloved desktop? Whatever it is that draws you to Linux, you have to admit that the vast customisation of this wonderful OS is one of its many endearing features.

Description: Linux Mint 10

Linux Mint 10

We all love a little eye-candy from time to time and nothing gives us Linux users more joy than seeing the green faced Windows users drool at the special, and admittedly, totally useless effects that we can run within our operating systems. Videos and images of rotating 3D desktop cubes have allowed the Linux user to grin smugly for many years, so with that in mind, let’s add one more feature that is sure to stir the seething cauldron of those who are unwilling to come over to the light that is Linux. Let’s embed the terminal onto the desktop, so it becomes a part of the wallpaper. Why? Well, why the devil not?

For this how-to we’re going to be using Linux Mint 10, purely because that’s what we have on my system at the moment and having Compiz already bundled makes the process a little easier than normal. Also, not everyone is willing to update to the latest offerings from the Linux community. On that note we’re going to assume (always a dangerous thing) that you have a working and installed version of Linux with Gnome, that you have the Compiz packages installed and running, and that you have a decent working knowledge of the terminal and how to create an executable file. If not, don’t worry too much; we’ve added some screenshots and tried to include as much of the text and code as possible. So here goes…

Tantalizing terminals

Firstly, open up a terminal, click ‘File’, then ‘New Profile’.

Enter a name for the new profile (David in this case). This will be the named profile we call when using the compiz settings. Click ‘Create’ when ready – see Fig 1.

Description: The terminal, bless its little cotton ones

The terminal, bless its little cotton ones

In the ‘Profile’ settings window, under the ‘General’ tab, untick ‘Show menubar by default in new terminals’.

In the ‘Title and Command’ tab, click on the drop box next to ‘When terminal commands set their own titles’ and select ‘Keep initial title’. In the ‘Initial title’ bar, type the name of your profile. This will specify that any new terminals that are started will be launched with the profile and the new initial title. The drop-down list specifies how to handle the set titles – see Fig 2.

Description: Terminal profiles are great for adding a spark to your desktop

Terminal profiles are great for adding a spark to your desktop

Click on the ‘Background’ tab, untick the Use background settings from system theme and select Transparent background, moving the slider all the way over to ‘None’. Although this is pretty self explanatory, it just means that the terminal will appear to be a part of the desktop wallpaper – see Fig 3.

Description: You can even specify different images for each profile…

You can even specify different images for each profile…

In the Scrolling tab, use the drop-down box to ‘Disabled’ for the ‘Scrollbar is:’ option. This will disable the scroll bar on the default right of the terminal screen – see Fig 4.

Description: …not to mention other wonderful options

…not to mention other wonderful options

Click ‘Close’ to finish the terminal profile setup, and enter the Control Centre and CompizConfig Settings Manager. Click on the ‘General Options’ icon and untick ‘Hide Skip Taskbar Windows’. This option will disable the ‘hide windows not in the taskbar’ when entering the show desktop mode – see Fig 5.

Description: Compiz can be an unpretty beast to browse over…

Compiz can be an unpretty beast to browse over…

Click ‘Back’ when ready and scroll down to the ‘Effect’ section. Make sure that the ‘Window Decoration’ effect is ticked and enabled, and then click on the icon. In the ‘Decoration windows’ box, type ‘(any) $ !(title=David)’, obviously replacing the ‘David’ part with whatever you named your terminal profile as. This just clarifies which windows should be decorated, specifically the terminal profile window named David – see Fig 6.

Description: …with more options that you’ll ever need

…with more options that you’ll ever need

Click ‘Back’ when you’re done, and scroll down to the ‘Window Management’ section. Make sure that the ‘Window Rules’ plug-in is ticked, and enabled, and click on the icon. Type, in the following text boxes, ‘title=David’ (again substituting the ‘David’ with your profile name):

Skip taskbar

Skip pager



Non-movable windows

Non-resizable windows

Non-minimisable windows

Non-maximisable windows

Non-closeable windows

The above will determine the state and properties of the terminal window, making sure that it remains a static fixture to the desktop wallpaper – see Fig 7. Click on ‘Back’ when you’re done, exit Compiz and return to your desktop.

Description: Everythingable labellable boxables – eh?

Everythingable labellable boxables – eh?

Now all we need to do is run the profile and declare the dimensions of the terminal on the desktop. Press Alt+F2 to open the Run Application window and type in the following:

gnome-terminal – window-with-profile=David – geometry 80x45+250+75 &

Click on ‘Run’ when you’ve typed in the command and hey presto, you should now have the terminal built into, or more accurately onto, the desktop. Type in ‘Exit’ to quit the desktop terminal and experiment with the size and position of the terminal by altering the 80x45+250+75 values, and don’t forget to again substitute the ‘David’ value for own profile name.


Permanent fixtures

If you want to make the embedded terminal a permanent feature when you start up Linux, then you will need to create a basic executable script that will initialise the run command after the Compiz services have started. To do this, use your favourite text editor (Gedit, for example) and create a file called, something like ‘’ and add the following lines of code:


Sleep 25 && gnome-terminal – window-with-profile=David – geometry 80x45+250+75 &

By all means change the sleep time to whatever you prefer, and what works best with your system, plus you can always copy and paste the experimented values for your terminal from the Run Application window you entered earlier.

Save the file and exit the text editor. Make the newly created file executable by opening a terminal (if you haven’t already) and typing in: chmod +x (changing the name of the file to then one that you created). Go to the Control Centre and click Startup Applications, then click ‘Add’ when the preferences window pops up. Enter a name for the file we created – Deskterm, for instance. Next, browse to the location of the saved file and select it, then finally enter a comment (if you want). Click on ‘Add’ when you’re done, making sure the deskterm command is ticked in the list of startup programs and click ‘Close’ – see Fig 8.

Description: Enter a witty comment, unlike mine

Enter a witty comment, unlike mine

Restart your system and, all going well; you should now have a fully working terminal as part of the desktop wallpaper on every desktop workspace. Typing ‘Exit’ will close down the terminal, so you’ll have to run the executable again if you want the embedded terminal to reappear.

But why?

And finally, why do we do this? Because we’re Linux users and we can!

Other tasty terminals

Of course, if you just want to go down the easy road of having a terminal embedded onto your desktop, then open up your package manager and search for Guake Terminal. This pull-down Quake inspired terminal defaults with 100% transparency, and with a simple hit of the F12 key it can be hidden again if necessary. It features everything you’d expect from a decent Gnome terminal, plus some good configuration options that are just asking to be played around with.

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