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Note: The last release was in 2010.[1]

Fbterm (Frame buffer terminal emulator) is standalone replacement of Linux kernel terminal that can function outside of Xorg. Keep in mind that its development has stopped.


From http://code.google.com/p/fbterm/:

FbTerm is a fast terminal emulator for linux with frame buffer device or VESA video card. Features include:
  • mostly as fast as terminal of linux kernel while accelerated scrolling is enabled
  • select font with fontconfig and draw text with freetype2, same as Qt/Gtk based GUI apps
  • dynamically create/destroy up to 10 windows initially running default shell
  • record scroll-back history for every window
  • auto-detect text encoding with current locale, support double width scripts like Chinese, Japanese etc
  • switch between configurable additional text encodings with hot keys on the fly
  • copy/past selected text between windows with mouse when gpm server is running
  • change the orientation of screen display, a.k.a. screen rotation
  • lightweight input method framework with client-server architecture
  • background image for eye candy


Install the fbterm-gitAUR package.

After installation, mind the additional instructions:

==> To run fbterm as a non-root user, do:
sudo gpasswd -a YOUR_USERNAME video
==> To enable keyboard shortcuts for non-root users, do:
sudo setcap 'cap_sys_tty_config+ep' /usr/bin/fbterm
sudo chmod u+s /usr/bin/fbterm



Fbterm uses fontconfig for a list of fonts, trying each sequentially until it is able to render the characters.

To change the fonts that are used, use the --font-names option to select favorites from the list given by fc-list.

Input method support

Fbterm supports diverse input methods by acting as a client for an independent input method framework server. Several such programs are available for Arch, see Internationalization#Input methods.

Tips and tricks

Background image

To use a background image, Fbterm can be set to take a screen shot of the frame buffer device when it starts.

The following script (using the fbv image viewer) is recommended in the man page:

# fbterm-bi: a wrapper script to enable background image with fbterm
# usage: fbterm-bi /path/to/image fbterm-options
echo -ne "\e[?25l" # hide cursor
fbv -ciuker "$1" << EOF
exec /bin/fbterm "$@"

White font color

By default, fbterm display the "white" text as a gray color, even using the -f 7 switch. Its possible to get real white by doing an echo once inside fbterm, like this

echo -en "\e]P7ffffff"