Split Screen GNOME Terminals with Terminator in Ubuntu

Posted by on Sep 2, 2008 in Linux, Ubuntu2 comments

I love tabs – Tabbed browsing has become an invaluable and integral part of my daily surfing. I also love the Terminal Emulator built into GNOME, but when it comes to opening multiple instances of Terminal Emulators, I prefer split screen over tabs. This is where Terminator wins for me, hands down. I’m just too lazy to flip between tabs when referencing commands, or standard output from multiple terminals. Terminator allows me to open multiple instances of Terminals in the same window – the screen can be split horizontally and vertically with either a mouse click, or the built in keybindings. The current version also supports tabs, by the way.

Terminator - split screen GNOME Terminal Emulation

The easiest way to install Terminator, is via either the Synaptic Package Manager, or by running the following command:

sudo apt-get install terminator

As the Terminator website points out, the version available in the Ubuntu Repositories is only 0.8.1. If you want the latest version, it must be compiled from source. Terminator’s creator doesn’t recommend installing from the source, and instead recommends using the package manager. However, it can be compiled and installed as follows. Be warned, though, that there is currently no uninstall option, and no GNOME menu/icon integration. The current version (0.10) can be downloaded here (although be sure to check the site for the latest version). Python vte bindings are also required, and can be installed by running:

sudo apt-get install python-vte

Now for Terminator:

wget http://launchpad.net/terminator/trunk/0.10/+download/terminator_0.10.tar.gz
tar -zxvf terminator_0.10.tar.gz
cd terminator-0.10
./setup.py install

that’s it. Either way, once installed, it can be run from Applications -> Accessories -> Terminator. Running

man terminator

outputs the Terminator Manual page, which has a stack of information on options and keybindings.

I like to have quick access to the Terminal, so I have a shortcut on my Panel, next to the menus, for Terminator. This launcher also executes the application with a couple fo handy options, saving me a few more mouse clicks. Right click on the Panel, and Add to Panel. Select Custom Application Launcher, and click Add. In the Name field, enter “Terminator”. In the Command field, enter “terminator -m” and click OK. The “-m” option opens Terminator maximised.

Once opened, Ctrl+Shift+O will split the terminals Horizontally, while Ctrl+Shift+E will split them vertically.

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