Guake – A Drop-Down Terminal (in the Style of the Quake Video Game) for Linux

As a pretty “normal” Linux user, I very often have a Terminal open. Not always, but often enough that I always have a Terminal shortcut close at hand. Usually it’s pinned to Docky, so it’s only a single click away. But today I finally tried out a program called Guake that places a Terminal only a keyboard combination away, and after using it for just a little bit, I have to admit I’m hooked.
Guake (and Yakuake, written with the KDE desktop environment in mind), were both inspired by the dropdown terminal in the video video game Quake. How Guake works is once started, it can be called up by clicking its panel icon (if you’ve chosen to make it visible), or by a customizable keyboard shortcut. By default, once started, Guake can be shown by simply hitting the F12 key, but that can be changed to any keyboard combination not already in use by another application.

Once the shortcut it typed (or the panel icon clicked), Guake becomes visible at the top of your computer monitor. It stretches the width of the screen, and a certain number of lines down. By default it is transparent, so if you need to read the names of folders or files on the Desktop, or whatever window happens to be open, you can.

An opened Guake terminal window is just like any other Terminal on your system. It can be used to launch programs, compile software, copy and move files, update your applications, connect to FTP servers or download files from the Internet. Whatever your “regular” Terminal client can do, so can Guake.

Guake also supports tabs, so you can have many Terminal sessions open at once. And if you want a special interpreter, such as sh, dash, bash, rbash or a few others, Guake can be set that way as well. You can start a lengthy process such as updating your software or compiling a program, hide Guake, then come back later. It keeps working even when not visible. It supports popup notifications at startup (particularly useful if you have chosen to hide the panel icon), and practically everything about it is customizable, from its height, color theme and transparency to the number of lines cached in memory.

There are a variety of keyboard shortcuts available besides toggling its visibility. Guake can go fullscreen, above all applications and new tabs can be created or closed (and you can navigate between them), all from the keyboard.

In a very real way, Guake is not much more than using the standard Terminal client that you access and manage using custom keyboard shortcuts. In fact, many of the keyboard shortcuts in use are the same as what you’d find in Gnome Terminal, for instance, the default Gnome client for Terminal sessions. But that doesn’t matter. The wider window, the easy way to toggle visibility and the large number of customization options all make Guake a very nice Terminal program to have installed. For anyone wanting an easily accessible Terminal client (or anyone who loved Quake, I suppose!), Guake is an excellent choice.

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