So I have just been introduced to Cathode for OSX and I am completely fascinated by how classic it looks with it's 1970s retro style. Does anyone know of any programs/packages I can download to get my terminal to sport that very look? If there are no packages available, is there are setting I can change on the Ubuntu 14.04 terminal?

For those who are unaware of Cathode, I will post an image in reference to what I would like to have on my terminal:


More information as to what Cathode does can be found on this link:

Cathode Info

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    a world apart the 4k screen, retina display... :) – fduff Jul 25 '14 at 18:37
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    Can't help you with adding barrel distortion like Cathode does, but you can easily change gnome terminal's colors (edit->profile preferences->colors. green-on-black is one of the preconfigured themes.) – Mark Plotnick Jul 25 '14 at 18:38
  • That's not too bad, I just think it's such a bummer that there is no software such as that for Ubuntu – ryekayo Jul 25 '14 at 18:39
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    A bunch of poseurs! What you need is one of these suckers: i.stack.imgur.com/R1Nvo.jpg ... and a sturdy desk. You need one of those too. – derobert Jul 25 '14 at 20:46
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    I like this suggestion on the linked page: "There should be an option to take input from the camera and map it as a reflection on the screen". – Mark Plotnick Jul 25 '14 at 22:04

The software you are looking for is called "cool-old-term" and is available on github. It emulates the look of a CRT and is based around konsole (KDE's terminal) and requires QT 5.2 or newer. The readme has instructions for getting it working on Ubuntu 14.04 and Arch.

CRT image

The examples on the github page show a few other variations on the CRT look and the presentation of the text. This video shows off the features of this terminal and the many ways it can look.

  • I like the look of that one better than Cathode. It actually has a background rectangle in it as if the brightness were a bit high and fades slightly into the corner. – goldilocks Jul 29 '14 at 15:42
  • I have tried following the instructions. For one, I cannot punch in the qmake && make && make install command. When I do I get this: qmake && make && make install. Then when I try using ./cool-old-term I get this: file:///cool-old-term/app/main.qml:26 module "org.kde.konsole" is not installed I have looked up how to resolve this online and the little support is available did not help when I followed their instructions. Any ideas? – ryekayo Jul 30 '14 at 16:50
  • @ryekayo Try installing konsole. Be advised this will probably pull in some kde dependencies. – casey Jul 30 '14 at 16:54
  • @casey Thanks, got it to work. I had to update QT for it to work. – ryekayo Jul 30 '14 at 16:56

There are at least two applications built in as standard xscreensaver modules that do some of this already - they're actual terminal emulators in their own right. One is phosphor and the other is apple2. On my machine I can, for instance:

/usr/lib/xscreensaver/apple2 -text -fast -program /usr/bin/sh

And the xscreensaver module opens its own pty for sh and it works. I wouldn't call it pretty, but it works. Here are some usage examples for apple2.

I can do this with phosphor:

/usr/lib/xscreensaver/phosphor -scale 2 -delay 0 -program /usr/bin/sh

If you don't have the xscreensaver package installed it's bound to be available via package manager. Give it a try.

Both applications support multiple configuration settings - and both can draw on the root X window. It may be you can paint the background you desire with something like feh or xv and get pretty close to the same result.

Of course, according to this you can just buy that Cathode program for linux and that would do the trick, but I'm a little dubious as it seems the last update there was a couple years ago and the try free link seems to redirect to itself.


I came across vinterm from google project's page. Doesn't look as feature complete as Cathode though. Last code change was from a year ago.


I am not sure of any software that does it. But I did the following to make my terminal look as cathode. You can look for tput command and may be change the font size and look to make the settings permanent in the user configuration file.

tput bold
tput setab black
tput setaf 2

To make the settings permanent, I added the above mentioned lines to /home/.bashrc. After that, I closed the terminal and opened the terminal. Now, my terminal looks like below.

enter image description here

  • I tried that out, the effects are not permanent though – ryekayo Jul 25 '14 at 18:49
  • @ryekayo, see the updates. – Ramesh Jul 25 '14 at 18:55
  • Tried that as well, not a permanent effect either. – ryekayo Jul 25 '14 at 18:58
  • @ryekayo you can make it permanent by changing the settings with the menus. But this will not give you the 3d effect. – terdon Jul 26 '14 at 10:24

You can set Gnome Terminal to look this way. When the terminal is running, click Edit > Profile Preferences. Under the Colors tab, there is a Built-in scheme of Green on black that looks just like what you want.

Update: In reading the link you provide, it's clear that Cathode does much more than simply customize the colors of your terminal. Much of Cathode's cool but advanced feature set (simulating an old curved cathode ray screen, for example, or adding flicker and other video artifacts common with such technology) is not available in Gnome Terminal, but you can at least get the look of phosphorous green on black.

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