How to change and Set default terminal in Ubuntu or Debian Linux

Do you have multiple Terminal emulators on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04? Then learn how to set your favorite Terminal app as the default one on Ubuntu Linux.

Almost all Linux distros come with a default terminal application to run commands. However, if you feel that your Linux Terminal is not enough for you and want to install some other then you are always free to do so. You can check our list of the 12 best Terminal applications for Ubuntu.  Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter which Terminal you have installed but if you have multiple and want to set one of them as your default emulator app to run commands then what to do? In this tutorial, we discuss how to do that using the update-alternatives command line utility.

Steps to set default Terminal in Ubuntu or Debian Linux

Well, to change the default Ubuntu Terminal and set some other, we need to have at least one more Terminal emulator app apart from the one which comes with the system. For example, Ubuntu offers Gnome Terminal but now you have installed the Terminator or Alacritty and want any of them set as the default one. In such cases, an inbuilt utility of our Linux system, called update-alternatives comes into play.

We can use this utility to switch between the installed Terminal applications on our system to make any of them the default one. It is not limited to the Command line app, we can use it for browsers and other applications as well. It is because this utility is responsible for setting up default applications in Ubuntu or Debian.

Coming to the main topic, how to use this utility? For that, open your system’s already installed Terminal. It can be any existing one.

Command To set Default Linux Terminal

Run the given command to change and select the default Ubuntu or Debian Terminal.

sudo update-alternatives --config x-terminal-emulator

As you run the above command, you will get the list of all existing Terminal-emulators with a provision to select any of them.

For example:

There are 7 choices for the alternative x-terminal-emulator 
(providing /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator). 
 Selection    Path                             Priority   Status
* 0            /usr/bin/terminator               50        auto mode
  1            /usr/bin/alacritty                50        manual mode
  2            /usr/bin/gnome-terminal.wrapper   40        manual mode
  3            /usr/bin/koi8rxterm               20        manual mode
  4            /usr/bin/lxterm                   30        manual mode
  5            /usr/bin/terminator               50        manual mode
  6            /usr/bin/uxterm                   20        manual mode
  7            /usr/bin/xterm                    20        manual mode

Press  to keep the current choice[*], or type the selection number: 

What you have to do, is first find the “Selection” number of the Terminal that you want to set as the default one. After that type it and hit the Enter key. And you are done. For example, to set Alacritty, we type – 1 and then press the Enter key.

Check whether you have changed the default Shell or not

Once you are done with the previous steps, it’s time to check whether the default Terminal has been changed and set to the new one or not. For that, run the same command again but this time you will see the Asterik (*)  in front of the Terminal you have selected. This shows the changes are done, successfully.

Change and set default terminal in Ubuntu or Debian

3 thoughts on “How to change and Set default terminal in Ubuntu or Debian Linux”

  1. This method didn’t work for me on MX Linux 21 (Debian).

    The asterik is already set to use xfce4-terminal.wrapper (priority 40) as the default, but the default that opens is ROXTerm (roxterm), which is listed with priority 50 twice. One as auto and a second as manual.

    Ctrl-alt-t also opens ROXTerm.

    Is there a way to change the priority?

    • Here is the command to change the priority of Terminal apps:

      sudo update-alternatives –install /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator x-terminal-emulator /usr/bin/your-terminal-app-name priority-number

      For example:
      sudo update-alternatives –install /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator x-terminal-emulator /usr/bin/roxterm 10


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