I'm an average home user, but still sometimes use terminal for simple tasks. When I type "terminal" in unity, it offers me three choices - but what`s the difference? I hate always choosing randomly and thinking about what I did.

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    It's very cool if you are constantly using i.e. mc (midnight commander) and you want to work with all existing shortcuts :D. Because some short keys don't work on xterm with menu gnome support and it is an advantage in mc :D. Good example of this could be shourtcut F10 or another. If you try to use it in standard gnome-terminal in mc it doesn't work, but on xterm works very well.
    – user75638
    Jul 7, 2012 at 18:02
  • "Canonical’s Brian Quigley explains: “Xterm takes up two menu items (xterm and uxterm) and doesn’t provide any more functionality than gnome-terminal. " Someone Finally Asks Why Ubuntu Has 3 Terminal Apps…
    – Rick
    Feb 9, 2021 at 10:38

5 Answers 5


Terminal is, in Ubuntu default software, the gnome-terminal. XTerm is... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xterm. UXTerm is XTerm with support to Unicode characters. The main difference between XTerm and Terminal is that the gnome-terminal has more features, while XTerm is minimalistic (though it has features that are't in gnome-terminal, but they are more advanced).

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    Unicode is a big deal. May 24, 2012 at 6:06
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    As far as I can see in both Xterm and UXterm, Unicode characters such as those in cat ~/Desktop/examples.desktop look absolutely identical, with or without TrueType fonts selected via Control+right click. How exactly are these two terminal emulators different? Dec 30, 2012 at 10:35

If you are using Ubuntu, you should also have gnome-terminal installed. For Kubuntu the default terminal is konsole, and for Lubuntu is lxterminal.

All three are good choices.

To be Desktop Environment independent as much as possible, I would choose lxterminal.

xterm, and uxterm are good but they use ugly looking fonts, and pose some problems in regards to keystrokes (see How do I set up hotkeys for a xterm?).

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    Youre kidding, they cant add multiple versions of software because of different fonts. Bugging people, because it makes sense to 1% of users and costs so little disk space? There must be serious differences. Jan 14, 2012 at 18:20
  • @JustinasDūdėnas: I don't say they are identical from the functional point of view, and I don't say they only differ in fonts (that is somewhat configurable, by the way), but two software don't need to have "serious differences" to be both included in the repositories. The choice is left to user's preferences.
    – enzotib
    Jan 14, 2012 at 18:27
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    xterm doesn't depend on other software, which may be of use in the event you accidentally uninstall something.
    – daithib8
    May 23, 2012 at 20:13
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    You can use truetype fonts (and anti-aliasing) for xterm with control-right click (hold), select "truetype fonts" Jul 31, 2012 at 14:02
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    My point is, that including almost identical software forces users to make choise which they don`t need. You can compare it to overdocumenting, or adding a second poweroff button. Sep 23, 2012 at 7:44

The default is "terminal", which is gnome-terminal.

You can also summon one with a hotkey ctrl-alt-T


Gnome-terminal is generally more of a resource hog than xterm and rxvt. Also, gnome-terminal's install size is generally around ten times larger than xterm's.

By default, urxvt uses a feature called fast scrolling. This causes the terminal emulator to not always update the window when the content changes. If a program is outputting a significant amount of data to the terminal emulator, fast scrolling can result in a noticeable performance boost. Xterm has this option disabled by default, but you can enable it by putting XTerm*fastScroll: True in your .Xresources file. Gnome-terminal does not seem to have this feature.

Gnome-terminal has profiles that allow you to define and quickly switch between configurations.

  • For gnome-terminal, the VSZ (virtual size) is about 5-8 times larger and RSS (resident set size) is about 4-5 times larger than for xterm. But this is for gnome-terminal-server, which allows to open as many windows as you like. If you open as many xterm windows, the memory requirements will be similar. Jun 17, 2017 at 10:41

For an average user, xterm and uxterm are pretty useless.

I personally rely on gnome-terminal even for advanced usage. I simply remove the other two, so I don't be bothered with them showing in my apps search.

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    How exactly are xterm and uxterm useless? I'm much rather press F10 in xterm than Esc, 0 in gnome-terminal, and with true-type fonts xterm looks awesome. Dec 30, 2012 at 10:29
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    @DanDascalescu One can simply type [Alt][0] and it does the same thing. Also, gnome-terminal font looks spectacular and you don't have to do xterm -fa font -fs 10 before hand after hitting [Alt][F2]. I guess you could setup gnome-terminal to open up xterm like that and exit. Another downfall of xterm is its lightweight-ness. It's archaic; it's like vim vs gedit. Unless you don't have a modern computer, just don't use xterm. You can't zoom in; you don't have a menu; you can't COPY AND PASTE (the most annoying)! Basically, use xterm if you need to use ed to edit without much cpu usage.
    – dylnmc
    Nov 12, 2014 at 20:40
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    @dylnmc I can copy and paste in xterm with <Ctrl><Ins> and <Shift><Ins>. Copying doesn't go to the X clipboard by default, but one can check here: askubuntu.com/questions/237942/… Feb 16, 2020 at 13:44

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