The command line can seem rather utilitarian at times. It’s a functional work environment for getting stuff done, not looking pretty.

Adding a splash of colour with the Solarised theme is, for many of us, as fancy as we let things get.

But just because the command line has a reputation for being digitally austere, doesn’t mean you have to use it as such.

Cool Retro Term, a Cathode Terminal for Linux

For those days when you want to indulge nostalgia, try something different, or code like its the 1980s, try this free retro terminal emulator.

It’s called (fittingly) ‘Cool Retro Term’ and is pitched as a terminal emulator that “mimics the look and feel of the old cathode tube screens.”

A set of pre-set templates are included and these succeed superbly in replicating the vintage visuals of yesteryear computing. There are various display effects (and flaws) including scan lines, flickering and screen curvature and glow, and all of the colour schemes one would expect (yes, including green text on black background).

A well-stocked preferences section lets you customise or adjust various different settings, including brightness, contrast, font and opacity.

Use it and pretend your super stylish System76 laptop is actually an ancient IBM workstation!

Install Cool Retro Term on Ubuntu

It’s important to stress that Cool Retro Term is not a theme for GNOME Terminal or any other existing terminal tool. It is a separate terminal app that you can use (and not use) as and when it takes your fancy.

Cool Retro Term is based on the very reliable Konsole, and it requires Qt 5.2 or later to run.

If you want to channel your inner David Lightman (that’s the pipsqueak from 80s cult classic War Games, fact fans) Cool Retro Term offers up faithfully stylised way to do just that.

To install it on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS through Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (sorry, no Yakkety build is in the PPA), run:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bugs-launchpad-net-falkensweb/cool-retro-term
sudo apt update && sudo apt install cool-retro-term

If you’re using Ubuntu 16.10 you should be able to make use of the packages from this PPA by downloading and installing them manually (using dpkg, gdebi, or the Ubuntu Software app).

Download Cool Retro Term for Ubuntu (64-bit)

Download Cool Retro Term for Ubuntu (32-bit)

Cool Retro Term – Pink Screen Issue

If you get a pink screen when running the app it means your GPU can’t quite cope with rendering all the effects. Don’t panic: head in to settings and disable (turn off) ‘Flickering’ and ‘Horizontal Sync’. Quit the app and re-open and you’ll see a glowing green terminal waiting.

Going Further

For the full 80s experience we recommend drinking Pepsi Cola and performing aerobics in a neon sweatband whilst listening to this:

Gif Wogue

Apps commandline terminal terminal apps