Saefty first when breaking out the power tools.

Getting involved

There are many ways to help out, and they don’t all involve coding.


Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Awesome! I’ve been getting my head around the whole translation bit (English monoglot I’m afraid), and as a result there has been a lot of churn in the translations. So what are you waiting for?

Speak some other language? Take a look at because you might just be the <insert language here> speaker that we’re looking for.

Improve icons/artwork

OK, so while the main icon contributed by Cory Kontros is really good, my hacks of it are... not so good. I’m no artist, but I do appreciate them. So if you think you could apply some polish and a cohesive design to this manuals page header images, please, give it a go. It may only be to take the existing icon and to make it suck less.

The only thing I would ask is that you maintain the main icon as a base like I have done.

Terminator action shots

This one’s just for “PR” purposes. I want to see famous/awesome people kicking ass and chewing bubble-gum with Terminator in the mix.

If you spot it in a TV show, movie, or a news article I want to know. Maybe you’re even the famous/awesome person, in which case drop me a note.

It will warm the cockles of my heart to know that Terminator made life easier for people who do the really important stuff like discovering new particles (CERN? Hello?), boldly going (NASA? Come in Houston), or wrangle 2 more frames per second from Half-Life 3 (Valve? Confirmed?)

Here’s the ones I’ve spotted and noted (I’ve seen quite a few others previously, but never thought to note them)

  • MindMaze - VR / mind-reading.
    Visible in the background of the video, and in an image lower down the page. (The Verge)
  • Dual Universe - Sci-Fi MMORPG
    Visible at 17:40 of the pitch video. (KickStarter)

Manual updates

This manual is a new endeavour to fully document all the nooks and crannies of Terminator. As such, there may be things that are missing, incorrect, not explained clearly, or need expanding.

Suggestions, or updates are welcome.

I had a little exposure at work to Sphinx, so I thought I’d dig in a bit deeper and learn a bit about it. So far I’m happy enough, so till further notice this manual will remain in this format.

If you’re feeling like a loquacious polyglot you could attempt to translate the whole manual. So far I haven’t tested it, but in principle, just do a checkout of the trunk, and do a full copy of the doc/manual folder to doc/manual_XXXX where XXXX is the i18n language code. This is usually just the two or three letters of the language code, but sometimes has the region too... Or something else entirely in a couple of cases. A couple of examples:

pt            - Portugese
pt_BR         - Brazilian Portugese
ca            - Catalan
ca@valencia   - Catalan (Dialect specific to Valencia?)

Then just translate away, and take new screen grabs to replace the British English ones I’ve done. If someone was to make a serious effort to translate the manual, I’m sure we can get it included.

The Help shortcut checks the LANGUAGE environment variable, and tries those folders in order, before falling back gracefully to the default manual, which is British English anyway:


So this is going to try:

  • html_en_GB - the non-existent British English folder
  • html_en - the non-existent generic English folder
  • html - the default document that happens to be in British English


Although the source is in a folder beginning with manual, that gets replaced with html for installation.


If there are any Americans offended by correct spelling, they are more than welcome to create an Americanised version, and I’ll relegate it to the en_US folder. The default will remain British English.

In order to create the html for the manual, you must have the sphinx_rtd_theme package installed. This does not appear to be packaged for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS as far as I can tell. This means you must install it using the pip tool. This may need installing on your system too with:

sudo apt-get install python-pip

Once that is installed you can install the theme with:

sudo pip install sphinx-rtd-theme

This will take care of installing the theme and it’s dependencies.


On Ubuntu this also installed a newer version of Sphinx under the /usr/local folder. This caused a bit of confusion at one point, so be aware.


Just use it, explore the features, and complain when they don’t work.

We actually have quite a lots of outstanding issues, and in many cases I can’t reproduce due to either lack of info, differences in environment, lack of information, or because the bug is so old the original raiser has moved on and not available for questions.

I’m particularly interested in cases where I can’t even see that something is an issue, such as:

  • Right-to-Left - I can force Terminator to Arabic, and everything flips around, but I have no idea if it looks “right” to a native speaker. Frankly it just looks weird!
  • HighContrast - Again, I can switch to it, but perhaps I’m not appreciating the needs of that group.
  • Accessibility - People using only a keyboard, or only a mouse, on-screen keyboards, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and so on.


Bugs (and feature requests) are raised and dealt with in the Launchpad bugs page.

  • Fixing - OK, so yeah, this is coding.
  • Reproduce and improving - Sometimes bugs are lacking info to reproduce, or my system is too different. Or perhaps the original poster has moved on because we haven’t fixed their pet peeve fast enough.
  • Triaging - It’s one of the less glamorous jobs, but someone’s gotta do it. Shepherd bugs to the point where it has a priority, a milestone, reproduction steps, confirmation, submitted patches validated, and so on.
  • Raising - If you have searched and cannot find your bug, you can raise a new one.

Feature requests are initially raised as bugs, and if it passes the rather undefined criteria, it will be marked as a wishlist item.

Bug handling

I have had one person (possibly others) who are hesitant to use the status’ because they’ve been “told off” by the developers of other projects, and people/projects are often different in how they want to handle bugs. So, with that in mind, let me present my idea of how a bug should be handled. First a pretty picture:


So, the darker blue states are the ones available in Launchpad that can be manually set. The two marked with a red outline require bug supervisor role to set, which means a member of the Terminator team. The pale blue states are ones that I personally feel should be there, but are missing. I’ll explain my intention with those in the appropriate sections below. The grey state is set automatically only, and cannot be set by anyone.


When you the user create a bug it goes into New. If another user clicks the This bug affects you link, this gets moved to Confirmed.


If I (or indeed someone else) go to a New or Confirmed bug, and are unable to reproduce it then it will be marked Incomplete, and someone (preferably the original raiser, but it can be someone else affected) needs to revisit and provide the requested additional info. Ideally when that is added there would be a New Info (or similar) state that the user would set the bug to, and then the dashed line would be taken.

Because we don’t have this state, we “skip” straight through and abuse the Confirmed state. Set the bug (back) to Confirmed, and assign the official tag new-info. Once the ticket is reviewed the tag will be removed, and a new state assigned, possibly even Incomplete again.

Note that I am aware of the two Incomplete options for with and without response, but the way it works is unclear, and I can’t switch between the two myself, and it is not clear when Launchpad switches it. So, I’ll be ignoring them and treating Incomplete as a single state.


At this point the bug should provide enough information to be reproducible. Only a supervisor can set an issue to Triaged. This state says, “Yes, the information provided either permits me to reproduce myself, or see what went wrong from provided logs, config, etc.” Typically they go here when I don’t have the time to start working on an immediate fix.

Alternatively I (or anyone) could start working on a bug. Ideally the issue should be set to In Progress, and assigned to the person picking it up. That way, two people don’t work on the same issue.

Sometimes, for trivial or interesting bugs, they might get looked at and fixed so fast that they skip all Acceptance categories, and go straight to one of the Resolved states.


Fix Committed is for when a fix is pushed to the main Launchpad bazaar repository and typically I do this. If you create a contribution via a branch, and commit to your branch, do not set to this yourself. Instead associate the bug with the branch, and request a merge. When I do the merge I will also set the bug to Fix Committed.

An Invalid bug is usually because the user didn’t understand something, or it is in fact a support request.

Only a bug supervisor can set an issue to Won’t Fix. It is the supervisors way of ending the discussion when it is felt that a bug does not fit the projects plans, but someone can’t let it go.

Opinion is typically when the user and I have a different expectation about behaviour or a new feature, or I think that something being proposed would actually be a negative for Terminator. Unlike Won’t Fix, this can still be discussed within the ticket.

Not Responsible is our second missing virtual state. For me this is when, for example, an issue actually resides in libvte, or GTK. Again, there is a new official tag not-responsible, and the bug will actually end up set to Invalid.

The final virtual state is No Action, which is for various reasons. Sometimes other work has resolved an issue already, or the user was using an old version, and the fix is already in trunk or released. Again there is a new official tag no-action. These will then be put in one of the following: Invalid, Fix Committed, or Fix Released, depending on circumstance.

Our last Resolved state is the automatically set Expired one.


The last state is Fix Released, indicating that there has been a release containing a fix to the issue.

Of course this flow and states are not set in stone. A bug can be brought out of Expired if necessary. Or back from In Progress to Confirmed or Triaged if the assignee decides to stop working on the bug for some reason.


Ahem... Yeah... More coding...

Some Plugins may have room for improvement, or perhaps you have an idea for a neat plugin no-one else has done.

Main Application Development

Oh come on... Coding? Again!

I see lots of people say how Terminator is really good, and it is, but like anything, it could be better!

To give an idea, as of October 2015, revision 1663, there are 86 wishlist items.


Just because an item is marked as wishlist, it doesn’t mean that a great deal of thought has been put into the appropriateness of the idea on my side. It may be impossible, or not a good fit, or just plain bat-sh!t crazy. If you want to pick up a wishlist item that looks like a lot of work (especially if it makes fundamental changes to the Terminator ethos) it’s probably best to check first that your approach is good, and has a realistic chance of being merged.

Some of these wishlist items are also in my own text file of “Things to do” / “Big bag of crazy”, which as of October 2015, revision 1663, looks like this:

Enhancements which may or may not have a wishlist item
Completely new features
    Add libunity quicklist of saved layouts
        Possibly use the progress bar and or counter for something too.
    Add an appindicator menu for launching sessions.
    If we can figure out how to do arbritrary highlighting, perhaps we can get a "highlight differences" mode like used to exist in ClusTerm.
        This could also be limted to highlighting diffs between those in the same group.
    Synchronised scroll based on groups
    Triggers (actions) based on regex for received text
    A "swap" mode for drag and drop
    Encrypted dumping/logging to disk

    Might be able to missuse the ClusTerm method of overwriting to "highlight" (gtk2 only)

    Layout Launcher
        Could bind the shortcut as a global toggle to hide show
        Could save
            window position/size
            hidden status
            always on top
            pin to visible workspace
    Layout needs to save/load more settings
        Per layout?
            Group mode status (all, group, off)
            Split to this group
            Autoclean groups
        Per window
            always on top
            pin to visible workspace
        Per tab
        Per terminal
            Store the custom command and working directory when we load a layout, so making small changes and saving doesn't lose everything.
            It could be possible to detect the current command and working directory with psutil, but could be tricky. (i.e. do we ignore bash?)
    A per layout "save on exit" option to always remember last setup/positions etc. Probably requires above to be done first.
    A per layout shortcut launch hotkey

Missing shortcuts:
    Just shortcut:
        Context menu (in addition to Windows menu button - not always available on all keyboards)
        Group menu
        Open preferences
        Change tab text (#1054300-patch), titlebar text, group name
        Toggle titlebar visibility
        Equalise the splitters (siblings/siblings+children/siblings+parents,all)
        Zoom +receiver in/out/reset
        Zoom all in/out/reset
    New code:
        Open a shortcut help overlay (Ctrl-F1?)
        Insert tab text, titlebar text, group name value into terminal(s)
        Last terminal / tab / window(again to jump back to original) #1440049
        Limit broadcast group/all to current tab / window (toggle)
        Broadcast temporarily off when maximised or zoomed to single term (toggle)

    Add large action/status icons for when titlebar is bigger.
    Improve the look/spacing of the titlebar, i.e. the spacing around/between elements

    right-click menu replicating GNOME-Terminals (move left/right, close, rename)

    Add accelerators (i.e. "Shift+Ctr+O") might look too cluttered.

        Add preselection to the profile tab
        Add filter to font selector to only show fixed width fonts
        Have changing widgets depending on what is selected in the tree
        Terminal title editable
        Button in prefs to duplicate a layout
        Ordering in list
        Working directory - add dialog too, see
        Add a list of the default keybindings to the Preferences -> Keybindings window?
    Option for close_button_on_tab in prefs. (needs tab right-click menu first
    Option to rebalance siblings on a split (don't think children or ancestors make sense)
    Figure out how to get the tree view to jump to selected row for prefseditor

    Give plugins ability to register shortcuts
    Custom Commands is blocking, perhaps make non-blocking

Drag and Drop
    LP#0768520: Terminal without target opens new window
    LP#1471009: Tab to different/new window depending on target

Major architectural
    Improve DBus interface, add coordination between sessions, i.e.:
        multiple DBus ports? register them with a master DBus session, be able to query these, etc
        be able to drive them more with command line commands, and not just from within own shell
        Remotinator improvements
    Abstract out the session/layout allowing multiple logical layouts in the same process to reduce resource used
        This is a big piece of work, as a lot of the Terminator class would need seperating out.
    Hide window should find the last focussed window and hide that. Second hit unhides and focusses it
        Add a power hide to hide all of shortcut bound instances windows
        Use the dbus if available to hide the current active window, then unhide it on second shortcut press
        If the dbus is available:
            The hide will go to the focussed instance, instead of the first to grab the shortcut
            Add a super power hide to hide all Terminator windows
            In both cases a second shortcut unhides whatever was hidden

Split with command / Inherit command/workdir/groups etc

Somehow make Layout Launcher, Preferences, & poss. Custom Commands singleton/borg (possibly use dbus)

When in zoomed/maximised mode
    Perhaps the menu could contain a quick switch sub menu, rather than having to Restore, right-click, maximise
    Shortcuts for next/prev,up/down/left/right, etc. How should they behave

All non main windows to be changed to glade files

For me the two different sets of next/prev shortcuts are a bit of a mystery.

Let window title = terminal titlebar - perhaps other combos. Some kind of %T %G %W substitution?

So as you can see, still lots of room for improvements, and plenty of ideas if you are trying to find small starter tasks.

GTK3 Port

Last coding one, I promise!

After some sterling work by Egmont Koblinger, one of the VTE developers, he came up with a very large patch for rudimentary GTK3 support. A number of things were incomplete or broken, but it got it far enough along that it was no longer an insurmountable cliff face.

Since then I have resolved to port fixes and features between the two versions. As I do this I explore and find outstanding issues with the port, and it is slowly becoming more usable.

Eventually the GTK2 version of Terminator will go into a deprecated/maintenance mode. Unfortunately due to needing a relatively new version of libvte, that switch will not be in the immediate future. I’m running trusty (14.04 LTS) and even there I had to build libvte 0.38 from source. This makes the GTK3 out of reach for the “Joe Bloggs” of the world. I could try and maintain my own PPA of the component, but that doesn’t help Fedora/OpenSUSE/Arch etc. users. Even getting “Joe Bloggs” to add a PPA can be a struggle.

And for a real nightmare, I tried to compile the 0.40 version and the thing lit up with a smorgasbord of items where my installed packages were not new enough.

If you are feeling brave and adventurous, there are some instructions in this blog post that will help you get the GTK3 version running. Assistance knocking off the remaining rough edges will be very much appreciated.

For the record, as of October 2015, with the gtk3 branch at revision 1612, these are the outstanding items:

Outstanding GTK3 port tasks/items/reviews etc.
Outstanding trunk revisions: 1634 & 1637, 1647 (assuming all is good), 1663

Need to go through all the Gtk.STOCK_* items and remove. Deprecated in 3.10. Very low priority as won't be problem till 4.0.
Homogeneous_tabbar removed? Why?, check for self.vte.window missing. Consequences? diff in args between old fork and new spawn of bash. Consequences?
VERIFY(8)/FIXME(6) FOR GTK3 items to be dealt with

Outstanding GTK3 port tasks/items/reviews etc. for future release
vte 0.40+
    Reimplement/restore the word_chars stuff.

Once the GTK3 port is done there is also a long overdue port to Python3, especially in light of some distributions trying to eliminate Python2 from the base installs. Yes, Python2 will be with us for a long time yet, but this should serve as a warning.

I even have some new items specifically for the GTK3 branch which I’m still thinking about, but I’m not ready to declare. I suspect I might get a bit of unwanted pressure if I were to mention these, so for now they are under NDA. 😃

Terminator API Docs

Strictly speaking this isn’t an API as such, because it is just using sphinx-apidoc over the Terminator code base. It’s perhaps helpful to have this as a document that can be browsed.

Terminator API docs

As it stands, this is rather incomplete, or too terse with no examples given. If you look at the terminatorlib.configobj package, you will see fairly extensive documentation, along with walk-throughs, etc. This particular package was written elsewhere, and brought into Terminator to provide configuration handling.

There are also some aspects of the way this document builds that I’m not too happy about. The seemingly unnecessary terminatorlib root-node in the side bar; the lack of class/method links in the sidebar; all .py files on the same page (this can be changed, but then even less is displayed in the sidebar.) If you can help, join the A-Team... Or better yet, send me some changes that fix this.