Quake-style terminal window

posted in: HOWTO | 0

Updated: Aug 28 2012

Long ago (mid-90’s), there was a revolutionary 3-d first-person-shooter game called “Quake”, made by id Software, the same people that made DooM a few years before.

Quake had this really cool feature where you could press the ~ key at anytime during the game and a terminal window would drop down from the top of the screen. This terminal screen could be used for anything from chatting to changing maps and more. It was sweet.

Since then, there have been many attempts at replicating the functionality in both Mac and Linux environments, where it is still common to use a terminal window with some regularity.

One such software package, Guake, has become a personal favorite of mine. It’s very simple; no bells or whistles other than the ability to adjust the Opacity. My only beef with it was simply that the terminal would just pop up on the screen rather than drop down from the top. Totally superficial — but what’s the point of using an open-source OS if you can’t customize it to do exactly what you want?

Last night, I figured out how to do it. And it’s glorious (video demo after the jump).

Get Guake

For starters, you need to install Guake. Open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install guake

Once it’s installed, open a terminal and type:

guake &

Then close the terminal. Press F12 and the terminal window should pop up. If you’d like to make it more like Quake, click on “Preferences” then “Guake Preferences” and choose the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab. Click on “Toggle Guake Visibility” and press the ~ key. Click close. Test by pressing ~.

Get Compiz

Now, you will need to be using the Compiz compositing manager. Compiz requires that you have a relatively modern video card (5 years old or newer) and that you have it turned on. Ubuntu will automatically load it if your hardware supports it.

You’ll also need the CompizConfig Settings Manager, with the Plugins loaded.

All of these things can be loaded through Synaptic (I’m not sure they’re available in the Ubuntu Software Center). Click on “System” then “Administration” then “Synaptic Package Manager”. Search for “compiz” and install:

  • compiz
  • compizconfig-settings-manager
  • compiz-plugins
  • compiz-plugins-extra (Thanks, Pete!)

If the boxes next to each of those is NOT filled in, right-click each one and select “Mark for Installation.” A few other packages should auto-install with these.

Once it’s installed, click “Preferences” then “Appearance”. Choose the “Visual Effects” tab and select “Extra”. Provided you have a hardware graphics accelerator (most modern computers do) you should be good to go. I don’t think it needs to restart.

Configure the Visual Effects

Assuming Compiz is configured with the standard effects (and you haven’t been tinkering with them), showing the Guake terminal should make it kind of fade in quickly. Nice, but not cool enough.

Click on “Preferences” then “CompizConfig Settings Manager”. Click on “Effects”. Check the box next to “Animation Add-ons” (if that isn’t showing up, you need the Compiz Plugins), then check the box next to “Animations”.

Click on the word “Animation Add-ons” (the one with the paper airplane); This will take you to detailed configuration options for the additional effects. Scroll down to “Skewer”. If it is collapsed, click on the triangle next to the name so it points downward.

  1. Set “Skewer Direction” to “Up”
  2. Set “Tesselation Type” to “Rectangular”
  3. Set “Window Grid Width” to “1” (slide it all the way to the left)
  4. Set “Window Grid Height” to “1” (slide it all the way to the left)
  5. Leave “Thickness…” at “0”
  6. Leave “Rotation Angle” at “0”

Click “Back”, then click on “Animations” (the one with the genie lamp).

Click “New”, then:

  1. Choose “Skewer” for “Open Effect”
  2. Set “Duration” to “300”
  3. For “window match”, type: (class=Guake.py) & (title=Guake!)

It should now show up in the list. Click on it once to select it, then click “Up” until it’s at the very top. (It gets overridden by other effects otherwise).

UPDATE: You’ll also need to do this for “Close Effect” as well (Overlooked that in the original post, thanks Pete!)

Press the key to activate Guake (Either F12, ~ or some other key you’ve set it to). It should fade down from the top of the screen, just like Quake’s terminal. Check my video below!

If you’re feeling adventurous, explore the other options in Compiz Settings Manager — there’s some REALLY cool effects there. My favorite one is the rotating cube:

0 Responses

  1. Matt McKimmy

    Awesome tip! I’ll have to give it a try. You might want to check the settings on your youtube videos though – it seems they’re both set to “private” thus preventing most of us from viewing them!

    I love Compiz too – my laptop’s graphics subsystem is just powerful enough to run it, though not with as much eye-candy as I might like.

  2. Aaron

    Try it now. I just changed the settings.

    I wish Youtube had a private embed ability, sort of like their private URL thing. I want to use their service but I’m really not interested in other people randomly watching it.

  3. nathaniel

    Nice 🙂 I didn’t know Compiz was customizable like that.

    I wouldn’t be a good KDE fanboy if I didn’t point out Yakuake: http://yakuake.uv.ro/wp-images/yakuake.jpg

    It’s in the apt repository and is very customizable (sliding in / opacity / animation speed / etc / etc).

    It’s not under active development, but really…there’s nothing more to add. It works fine with KDE4 and has been useful to me for years.

  4. markstinson

    Besides Guake, a package manager search for “quake” yields: yakuake (mentioned above), yeahconsole, tilda. Guake is nice with all the Gnome gui bells and whistles.

    But if you use older hardware or want the minimal amount RAM used, yeahconsole is hard to beat. IIRC, yeahconsole has been around longer too. It uses standard X11, can use different X11 compliant terms, and launched from the command line or startup script with ease (with a plethora of cmdline options).

    Enjoy. Mark S.

    • Aaron


      I have tried Tilda, a long time ago, and had a good experience with it — I think I may have began my search with that one, and found Guake along the way. One of my KDE loving friends swears by Yakuake, as well. 🙂

      Thanks for the info, Mark. I will check out Yeahconsole on my older laptop that isn’t powerful enough to support compiz / compositing. 🙂

  5. Pete

    Fantastic tip. I know the post is a bit old, so some things may have changed. Note that under the most-recent Unity (5.14.0-0ubuntu1), you need compiz-plugins-extra for the Animations Add-On. I already had compiz-plugins installed, so I’m not sure if I needed that too.
    Also, to get the animation when the window closes, you need to do the same thing for both “Open Animation” and “Close Animation”.

    • Aaron

      Thanks Pete, I’ll update the post with that!

      I actually don’t use the Guake term much anymore, but it’s still one of my favorite tricks. 🙂