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Does anyone know how to adjust the default width for shell window in Ubuntu, so that I don't have to re-size it every time I open it up?

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What do you mean by "Shell Window"? – Marco Ceppi Apr 28 '11 at 15:04
@Marco I think what they mean by "shell window" is the window for the terminal. – Christopher Kyle Horton Sep 6 '11 at 17:33

If you are referring to gnome-terminal, you can go to the menu item Edit->Profile Preferences, check "Use custom default terminal size" and put in the character dimensions you prefer.

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BTW, that setting is stored in ~/.gconf/apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/%gconf.xml by default – l0b0 Apr 28 '11 at 14:44
@l0b0: I would say that it can also be modified through gconf-editor, following the path /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default, in the values of use_custom_default_size, default_size_columns and default_size_rows. I would never suggest to edit the file directly. – enzotib Apr 28 '11 at 14:51
there are 6 tabs available in my "Profile Preference" window, General, Title and Command, Colors, Background, Scrolling, Compatibility, and I can't find "Use custom default terminal size" – user15218 Apr 28 '11 at 15:09
@user15218: in the General tab, at the bottom of it. – enzotib Apr 28 '11 at 15:13
@user15218: The setting is not available in 10.04 alternative install, nor is there use_custom_default_size setting in gconf-editor. – Coder Jan 17 '12 at 17:43

Add this to ~/.Xresources (of course with whatever dimensions you want):

XTerm*VT100.geometry: 96x68

Then add this to ~/.xinitrc:

xrdb -merge $HOME/.Xresources

That should be sufficient. Unfortunately it looks like it's necessary to log out and in again to see the changes.

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why don't I have ~/.Xresources, it says No such file or directory – user15218 Apr 28 '11 at 14:32
@user15218 It's not there by default. – l0b0 Apr 28 '11 at 14:33

With gnome-terminal use Edit->Profile..., select the default profile, then edit. In the next window in the general tab there is the option to select the window size. You have to open a new terminal window to see it work.

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You can automate this with a script:

gconftool -s /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/use_custom_default_size -t bool true
gconftool -s /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/default_size_rows       -t int  60
gconftool -s /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/default_size_columns    -t int  220
gconftool -s /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/scrollback_lines        -t int  5000
gconftool -s /apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default/background_type         -t string transparent
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