About 10 minutes ago I set up my basic Terminal app to be semi-transparent and was really happy with the result. Now, some updates ran and the whole "Background" tab is gone from Terminal settings. Was this option removed? If yes, why? Why would anyone do that?

I'm running gnome-terminal 3.10.2 from the Gnome3 ppa.

  • Are you using Unity or Ubuntu Gnome (or another desktop)? What version of gnome-terminal are you using? gnome-terminal --version
    – chaskes
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 22:48
  • I use Unity. Gnome Terminal 3.10.2 Really, just yesterday there was the setting for transparency and about 10 minutes later it disappeared... Also, I have Gnome3 ppa added. May that have something to do with it? Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 22:55
  • 1
    Just use xfce4-terminal
    – Vassilis
    Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 13:38
  • Use an alternative terminal: xfce4-terminal (like AnwarShah said) or mate-terminal, Guake (very useful), Terminator.
    – user423626
    Commented Aug 14, 2016 at 5:41
  • Yes gnome did remove terminal backgrounds a while ago.
    – Uwe Burger
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 2:30

6 Answers 6


Standard versions of Ubuntu use gnome-terminal 3.6.2. The background tab was removed in version 3.7. The ppa, as you saw, provides version 3.10.

You have a couple choices:

  1. Purge the ppa, then run an update and an upgrade to restore the standard packages. The trade-off is that you will lose the other features of Gnome 3.10 that you may want.
  2. Follow the instructions at How can I make the terminal transparent? to emulate the feature in 3.10 (quoted below):

    Since version 3.7 this option has been removed from the Preferences dialogue. You can however still get the same effect by setting the _NET_WM_WINDOW_OPACITY X property, for example with the Devil's Pie or Devil's Pie II tools. E.g., set up Devil's Pie to start automatically with the session, and create the file ~/.devilspie/gnome-terminal.ds with these contents:

(matches (window_name) "gnome-terminal-window-*")
(opacity 90)

You can also use this shell script that however only works for existing terminal windows and not automatically for newly created ones.

  • 3
    For now I set the window opacity in CCSM, but this affects the whole window (The top bar etc.) while the original setting only affected the backround of the commandline. But it is acceptable. So... if I understand it right, when they start shipping the newest version with Ubuntu, the option will get removed anyway? If that is the case, I just may stick with the Compiz setting. EDIT: That still does not answer this in my opinion unanswerable question: Why would anyone remove that setting? Transparent terminals look awesome... Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 7:53
  • This answer doesn't address "why?", seems to be one of the devs just didn't like it: bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=695371
    – Doug
    Commented Jan 19, 2022 at 15:02

Vivid 15.04 brings back the transparency option. (It's not part of mainstream gnome-terminal, but Ubuntu applies a patch to bring it back.)

On the other hand, background image support is gone for good.


The transparency feature was indeed removed from the recent versions of the Gnome Terminal. As noted in the other answers, you could use Devil's Pie program to make any window transparent (and more).

Here's how to set this up in Devils Pie 2 (it uses Lua, so scripts for the original Devil's Pie are not compatible with this version). I'm using Debian Buster, but it should work the same in Ubuntu.

  1. Install Devil's Pie 2 right from the official repo: sudo apt install devilspie2.
  2. Create the ~/.config/devilspie2/gnome-terminal.lua with the following contents:

    if (get_window_name()=="Terminal") then
  3. Create the ~/.config/autostart/devilspie.desktop file, which something like this inside:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Comment="The Devil Spy 2 script"
  4. Logout and login again or just reboot. All set!

In the Lua script, you could tweak the set_window_opacity(0.9); setting, 0.9 means that the window will be 90% opaque.

You can also add any other command which Devil's Pie 2 supports. The list could be found here.


Answer the question why, from this bug:


Persch didn’t like it. That’s all.

Here’s a quote

On Thu, 2012-05-03 at 23:23 +0200, Christian Persch wrote:

However, in many discussions with other developers, nobody has ever been able to explain to me why transparency would be an essential feature of a terminal, but not of, say, a text editor, a web browser, a mail reader, a word processor, a spreadsheet... do you have a good argument? :-)

  • That could be a reason not to implement transparency feature in the first place, but why remove an already-existing feature just because no one can explain why it is an "essential feature"? Not all features have to be "essential", otherwise the term "essential features" would not be necessary. Sometimes, some people need some non-essential features. Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 5:43

To make the default Ubuntu terminal background transparent, open the terminal and select Edit -> Profile Preferences -> Background tab -> click the Transparent background radio button. You can also make the background semi-transparent by moving the slider handle under Shade transparent or image background back and forth.

enter image description here



  1. Install devil's Pie

    sudo apt-get install devilspie  
  2. create directory .devilspie in your home directory

  3. create the file teminal.ds inside the folder created above with this content:

        (is (application_name) "Terminal")
            (opacity 90)

Change the transparency value anyvalue from 0 to 100 by changing 90.
4. Open terminal and execute the command: devilspie

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