Hands-on with GNOME’s new terminal for Linux users

A few days ago I shared my experience with the new GNOME text editor which replaces the old Gedit editor.

But that’s not the only “new” replacement for an older app. GNOME 42 also has a new terminal called Console.

Let me share what’s new in this new terminal offering from GNOME and what it’s like to use it.

Console: new GNOME terminal emulator

The purpose of this new application is to provide a “simple and user-friendly terminal emulator”. And it is indeed a “simple” app in that it doesn’t offer many of the features you’re used to in the older app, GNOME Terminal.

I will return to this point later. Let’s first see what’s new in the GNOME Console.

Desktop Notifications

The GNOME terminal in Ubuntu never had this feature although I’ve seen it in distros like elementary and Fedora.

This is a handy feature that sends a desktop notification when a long-running command finishes executing.

GNOME Console Notification

Being notified of command completion helps you stay productive when you’re distracted by other things while the command is running.

Change color for root operations

This is probably a unique feature that I haven’t seen in any other terminal app.

When you use a command with sudo or switch to root user, the application window turns red.

gnome console turns red when using sudo or root
GNOME console turns red when using sudo or root

I guess the idea here is to warn users that they are using elevated privileges and therefore be careful when running commands.

Themes

In keeping with the new design guidelines, the console offers three theme variations: light, dark, and system theme.

gnome console themes
gnome console themes

The system theme is used by default and depending on whether your operating system uses the dark or light theme, it changes the color. With dedicated dark and light options, you can change the theme regardless of the system theme.

And that’s about it. There’s not much terminal customization you can do here.

Transparent interface

The GNOME console has a transparent interface by default. In normal mode you can see the background a bit.

For example, you may see blurry text from the app in the background:

transparent dwarf console
The GNOME Console has a seamless interface

What I noticed is that when the console goes into fullscreen mode, the interface is no longer seamless. Also, you cannot configure transparency.

Other Features

You can use tabs in the console, thankfully.

gnome console tabs
Tabbed interface

You can perform a search operation the same way as the good old GNOME terminal.

search gnome console
Search operation in GNOME Console

There aren’t many options here. The hamburger menu lets you see all available keyboard shortcuts at a glance.

gnome console keyboard shortcuts
keyboard shortcuts in the GNOME console

And that’s all about the GNOME console.

Installing GNOME Console on Ubuntu 22.04

If you are using a distro that uses vanilla GNOME 42, you should have the new terminal available by default.

Although Ubuntu 22.04 uses GNOME 22.04, it still uses the old GNOME terminal. However, you can install the new one using this command:

sudo apt install gnome-console

Conclusion

You might be wondering why a new Terminal app when we already have a better and more functional GNOME Terminal. This is because GNOME has new design guidelines. Transforming the old codebase of these apps is too complicated and probably not worth the effort. Writing from scratch is easier and therefore you see more “new” GNOME applications like the console and the text editor.

And since the idea of ​​this new app is to keep things simpler, you don’t get a lot of features here. You cannot customize it, change the color, font, etc. Since there is no possibility of customization, there is no need for profiles.

For people who rarely use the terminal, the console is sufficient. However, I think they should have added the feature to show asterisks when entering passwords. Beginner-focused distros like Mint use it to avoid confusing new Linux users.

What do you think of the new GNOME Console and the overall approach to creating “new GNOME applications”?


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Steven L. Nielsen