How to Change the Default Terminal in Ubuntu

The terminal (or more accurately, terminal emulator) is a crucial part of any Linux system. It allows you to access your Linux systems through a shell. There are several terminal applications on Linux.

Most of the desktop environments have their own implementation of the terminal. It may look different and may have different keyboard shortcuts.

For example, Guake Terminal is extremely useful for power users and provides several features you might not get in your distribution’s terminal by default.

You can install other terminals on your system and use it as default that opens up with the usual keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+T.

Now the question comes, how do you change the default terminal in Ubuntu. It doesn’t follow the standard way of changing default applications in Ubuntu then how to do it?

Change the default terminal in Ubuntu

Change Default Terminal Ubuntu

On Debian-based distributions, there is a handy command line utility called update-alternatives that allows you to handle the default applications.

You can use it to change the default command line text editor, terminal and more. To do that, run the following command:

sudo update-alternatives --config x-terminal-emulator

It will show all the terminal emulators present on your system that can be used as default. The current default terminal is marked with the asterisk.

[email protected]:~$ sudo update-alternatives --config x-terminal-emulator 
There are 2 choices for the alternative x-terminal-emulator (providing /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator).

  Selection    Path                             Priority   Status
  0            /usr/bin/gnome-terminal.wrapper   40        auto mode
  1            /usr/bin/gnome-terminal.wrapper   40        manual mode
* 2            /usr/bin/st                       15        manual mode

Press <enter> to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number:

All you have to do is to enter the selection number. In my case, I want to use the GNOME terminal instead of the one from Regolith desktop.

Press <enter> to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 1
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/gnome-terminal.wrapper to provide /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator (x-terminal-emulator) in manual mode

I hope you find this quick little tip useful. Your questions and suggestions are always welcome.

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  • Too bad Ubuntu admin is so spread around and disorganized.

    You’d think things would be much more unified by now.


  • It does work when I try to the open the Terminal emulator with Ctrl + Alt + T .. But when I navigate through the files and try to open the Terminal in and specific directory via Right click + ‘open in Terminal’ it opens the Gnome Terminal. How can I change this behavior?

    PD: I’m on Ubuntu 20.04