Lightweight terminal emulator?

Grant Edwards grante at
Thu Sep 15 04:36:16 UTC 2005

On 2005-09-15, Michael R Head <burner at> wrote:

>> Yup.  I've been experimenting with xfce4-terminal. It's not
>> nearly as bloated as gnome-terminal, though it's still 4-6
>> times larger than aterm.  The proble with xfce4-terminal that
>> is as yet unsolved is that I can't convince it to use a decent
>> terminal font. By decent, I mean something like the X11 "misc"
>> 7x14 bitmapped font.  The scalable rendered fonts are all too
>> ugly to look at for 10 hours a day.
> Personal preference, of course, but I've been using the
> Bitstream Vera family of fonts for more than 10 hours a day
> (on some days) for several years now. Still, I acknowledge
> that you want a certain (somewhat obsolete) font on a modern
> desktop.

I don't mind the scaled and anti-aliased on a CRT, but on an
LCD (the system I'm trying Ubuntu on is a laptop), they always
look sort of smudged.  If I turn off the anti-aliasing, it just
ends up looking like a scaled font that was meant to be
anti-aliased and isn't.

IMO, for a low-horsepower CPU and an LCD, nothing beats a
bit-mapped font where every single pixel was placed lovingly by
hand, and those pixels match up 1:1 with the physical
resolution of the display.

> Fortunately, xterm, aterm, wterm, and rxvt exist and can be
> used and don't rely on pango/gtk to load fonts.

Except they don't (AFAICT) handle UTF8, and the rest of the
system wants to generate UTF8.

>> But, ubuntu doesn't appear to have any of the "misc" bitmapped
>> fonts in UTF encoding.  They're all there, but they're all
>> ISO-8859-1 encoding, but the whole distro is UTF8-only.
>> I'm not sure the "UTF8-only" thing is really ready for
>> prime-time.

I did find somebody (apparently as stubborn about fonts as I
am) who has prepared a distribution of fixed-size bitmapped
"misc" fonts in both ISO-8859-1 and ISO-10646-1 encodings. I've
got those installed, but I haven't figured out how to get
xfce4-terminal to use them.  Other X11 apps know they're there,
but xfce4-terminal ignores them. It doesn't seem to use the
standard X11 font naming conventions (the one with something
like 15 fields seperated by hyphens).

> Works for me, and apparently a large number of Ubuntu
> users.

I'm usually the odd man out.  I think it comes from a history
of using mixtures of Sun workstations and six or eight
different Linux distros all at once. If you don't figure out
how to make them all look/act the same you go nuts.
Unfortunately, you usually end up with a personal set of
programs and configurations that don't match up with any
particular distro's idea of the the right way to do things.  I
should probably try to be more flexible.

> I feel your pain though, it sucks when the old ways of doing
> things don't fit into the new models...

Mostly it just sucks to be old. ;)

Grant Edwards                   grante             Yow!  CHUBBY CHECKER just
                                  at               had a CHICKEN SANDWICH in
                                 downtown DULUTH!

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