Terminal as a transparent wallpaper

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There are two popular ways of configuring a Linux terminal to work transparently over a wallpaper, without any borders, menu bars or toolbars. This is very popular among developers because of it’s practical and coolness factor. Example for use it to view source-code or get an interactive process status of the system with htop. Something like conky, but not quite.

The Easy Way

Tilda is a highly customizable Linux terminal window. the author is inspired by classical terminals featured in first person shooter games, Quake, Doom and Half-Life to name a few, where the terminal has no border and is hidden from the desktop till a key or keys are pressed. In our example we will install it and give a basic terminal.

# pacman -Sy tilda

In Gnome you can locate it under Applications –> Accessories –> Tilda.

To achieve our desired look we will need to edit the default configurations.

Under General tab, uncheck "Always on Top".

Under Appearance you can edit the height and width to your liking,
but make sure you check "Enable Transparency" and make the level of Transparency 100%. Under Colors tab, chose "Green on Black" or "Personilize". Under Scrooling you must select "Disabled".

That's all you need, to run Tilda go to Applications –> Accessories –> Tilda and you should see it right there. The reason its not what I use for my transparent terminal because this is an easy fix and not very stable and crashes quite often (at least for me), while I know others who are quite happy with Tilda. Other reason is that not allways stay as wallpaper, if you use the "pulldown key" (F1) it comes to front.

The Professional Way

With the use of devilspie we will have more control over the placement and the behavior over the terminal window. What is Devilspie? Devil’s Pie can be configured to detect windows as they are created, and match the window to a set of rules. If the window matches the rules, it can perform a series of actions on that window. For example, I can make all windows created by X-Chat appear on all workspaces, and the main Gkrellm1 window does not appear in the pager or task list.

Step 1

Install devilspie on Arch:

# pacman -Sy delvilspie

Step 2

Make a hidden directory on your home folder:

$ mkdir ~/.devilspie

Make a configuration file with the extension .ds, inside devilspie folder. This is where devilspie looks for config file by default when it starts up. Edit the config file with your favorite editor, to dress up the terminal window the way you want it to look like.

$ nano ~/.devilspie/DesktopConsole.ds

My config file looks like this:

(matches (window_name) "DesktopConsole")
(wintype "utility")
(geometry "+240+250")
(geometry "954×680")

For a complete list of options with devilspie configuration options check out, the comprehensive list of options

Step 3

Open a gnome-terminal window go to Edit –> Profile –> New. Name it DesktopConsole.

Edit the Profile, to achieve our desired look we will need to edit the default configurations

Under General tab, uncheck "Show menubar by default in new terminals"

Under Colors tab, choose "Green on Black" (choose whatever you like, i like this).

Under Effects tab, choose "Transparent background". Make sure the scroll is set to "None"

Under Scrolling tab, select "Disabled".

Step 4

In this step we will setup devilspie and our custom terminal profile to load on bootup.

Go to Systems –> Preferences –> Sessions.

Add a new session by using the + sign. The first one we will put, "devilspie", in both name and command.

The second session we will put "gnome-terminal", under name and "gnome-terminal --window-with-profile=DesktopConsole", under command. Here we are basically calling gnome-terminal with the custom profile we created earlier.

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Step 5

Logout/login and you should have your desired look.

You can customize more to fit your needs and style, have more than one terminal; I will live it up your imagination.