Terminal transparency in Gnome – How to get it back

Terminal transparency in Gnome – How to get it back

You don’t. Apparently, background transparency has been removed in gnome-terminal 3.8 and hasn’t come back yet – it’s been many, many months and the only workaround that I know about is straight overkill. However, I have a (arguably) better one: get rid of gnome-terminal and switch to an alternative, like xfce4-terminal.


  1. Install xfce4-terminal
    sudo apt-get install xfce4-terminal
  2. Remove gnome-terminal
    sudo apt-get remove gnome-terminal
  3. Configure xfce4-terminal transparency

At this point, xfce4-terminal should be the default terminal, but just in case it isn’t, run this line and make it so manually:

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

Desktop launchers

Note however that desktop launchers running in terminal (i.e. SSH shortcutswill fallback to xterm and look horrible, so you need to make sure that the actual command is passed to the xfce4-terminal as a command argument, like this for instance:

xfce4-terminal --command="ssh user@server.com"

These launcher icons can be made either by using gnome’s GUI tool:

gnome-destkop-item-edit --create-new ~/Desktop

or, by making a .desktop file with contents like this:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=xfce4-terminal --command="ssh user@server.com"
Comment[en_US]=SSH: Server.com
Name[en_US]=SSH: Server.com
Name=SSH: server.com
Comment=SSH: server.com

Note: .desktop files need to be executable so you need to chmod +x them.

Default working directory

Sadly enough, there’s a bug concerning xfce4-terminal’s --default-working-directory option, as described here. But then again, luckily there’s a nice workaround involving disabling the old CTRL + ALT + T keyboard shortcut and making a new one, mapped to a custom command. So, in Gnome, open Keyboards -> Shortcuts -> Custom Shortcuts. Create a new custom shortcut with the following command:

xfce4-terminal --working-directory=/var/www/public_html

When you enable your new awesome custom shortcut, you can override the old one by setting it to CTRL + ALT + T.


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