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Set the Default Terminal Emulator on Ubuntu Linux

Ubuntu has a number of terminal emulators that you can use, including xterm and the gnome terminal. If you install the kubuntu desktop package you can also use konsole under ubuntu.

Setting the default terminal emulator is easy by using the update-alternatives command. Open a terminal window and type in the following command:

sudo update-alternatives –config x-terminal-emulator

You’ll see something similar to the following, although you may not see as many options on your system:

$ sudo update-alternatives –config x-terminal-emulator

There are 7 alternatives which provide `x-terminal-emulator’.

Selection Alternative
———————————————–
    1 /usr/bin/xterm
    2 /usr/bin/uxterm
    3 /usr/bin/koi8rxterm
    4 /usr/bin/lxterm
*+ 5 /usr/bin/gnome-terminal.wrapper
    6 /usr/bin/konsole
    7 /usr/bin/xfce4-terminal.wrapper

Press enter to keep the default[*], or type selection number:

Just type in the number of the selection and hit enter. Now when you launch the terminal via the menu item, or by typing in x-terminal-emulator at the command line, you will see the correct window pop up.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/5/06

Comments (4)

  1. acantos

    this really worked on my asus eee. i set mine to konsole. i’m a noob and don’t know the differences between terminal emulators.

    thanks for this tip.

  2. jgg

    “$ sudo update-alternatives –config x-terminal-emulator”

    should be

    “$ sudo update-alternatives –-config x-terminal-emulator”

    If you had two dashes there originally, I apologize. It looks like one.

  3. jkorkean

    You can do this also with user level privileges from:
    System -> Preferences -> Preferred Applications

    This idea is from:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=198207

    I switched mine to konsole because you can change the default character encoding for it with user level privileges.

  4. Aleuck

    Doesn’t read my .Xdefaults when I change to urxvt.

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