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Linux Command Line: aterm

written by: jlwallen•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 12/10/2008

All of the Linux commands must be issued in a terminal window. One of the more flexible terminal applications is aterm. In this entry to the Linux Command Line series, you will be introduced to the Aterm terminal emulator.

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    Aterm was created in 1999 to serve as the terminal emulator for the Afterstep window manager. Aterm was based on rxvt, is a color VT100, and supports pseudo-transparency. Aterm is currently enjoying release 1.0.1-4.

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    Getting and Installing

    Aterm will most likely not be installed by default, so you will have to handle the installation manually. Chances are you can open up your package manager (such as Synaptic or Yumex), search for "aterm", and install from there. If you prefer the command line you can most likely install with apt-get or yum as such:

    apt-get install aterm


    yum install aterm

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    If you are just looking for basic usage, you'll be able to find aterm in your main menu (possibly under System or Utilities). But if you are looking to do some serious customization you're in for a treat. Running aterm from the command line can be as simple as issue the command aterm or as complex as the command aterm -tr -tint red -fg white -bg black +sb. With a more complex command in mind, let's take a look at some of the arguments you can use with Aterm.

    • tr - This will open an aterm window with a transparent background.
    • tint - This will tint a transparent window with a color. The color should be a solid color such as: Blue, Red, Green, Magenta, Yellow, or Cyan.
    • fg - This defines the color of the text.
    • bg - This defines the color of the text background. This shows up when text is highlighted.
    • sb - Turn on (-sb) or off (+sb) the scrollbar.
    • sh - Use shading for the background transparency.
    • e - This defines a command that aterm will be opened using.
    • title - This will define the title of the aterm window.
    • pixmap - This defines an image to use as the terminal background.

    There are plenty of other arguments to use.

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    Final Thoughts

    Aterm is an incredibly flexible terminal window. And don't forget, when you find the string to start up the perfect aterm window, make sure to edit the entry in your menu or your terminal icon so that aterm will start exactly as you want it every time you click the Aterm entry or icon.