QuadKonsole and YaKuake - The ultimate kick on a KDE-based terminal

Command Center

The Linux console can be fun with YaKuake and QuadKonsole, two programs for KDE that let users work efficiently at the command line. We'll show you how to install, configure, and implement these handy terminal tools.

By Frank Wieduwilt

Sean Nel, Fotolia

YaKuake [1] and QuadKonsole [2] are designed for occasional command-line users who more typically rely on a GUI. YaKuake targets users who sometimes need to enter a terminal command but prefer not to have the terminal window in full view all the time. A keyboard shortcut opens the program, which closes automatically after processing a command.

QuadKonsole integrates four KDE Konsole terminal windows in a program window, either lining the windows up side-by-side or allowing them to overlap. This makes it more suitable for users who need to keep an eye on the output from several programs.


The source code for both programs is available either from the DVD with this issue, or from the developers' homepages. Just follow standard Linux procedure to build and install: ./configure, make, and make install. Both QuadKonsole and YaKuake require KDE 3.2 and Qt 3.2 or newer. Ubuntu users can check out the repository [3] for a ready-to-run QuadKonsole binary package.


On launching, YaKuake pops up a dialog to tell you that the program has launched correctly and is now waiting in the background for further instructions. You can press [F12] to pop up the terminal window, which drops down from the top of the screen (see Figure 1), hiding other windows in the process.

Figure 1: YaKuake appears at the top of the screen at the press of a button.

When you move the focus away from YaKuake, the window disappears, thus saving valuable screen space. You can launch YaKuake on any desktop.

Just like Gnome terminal or Konsole, YaKuake supports multiple terminals within the program window. The tabs at the bottom of the window let you toggle between terminal windows. Clicking the plus sign on the left of the tab bar opens a new terminal, as does the following keyboard shortcut: [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[N].

Pressing [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[Right arrow] and [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[Left arrow] lets you page through the active tabs. The keyboard shortcuts are the same as for the Konsole program - a good idea that reduces the learning curve. Pressing the shortcut [Alt]+[Ctrl]+[S] gives users the ability to assign an intuitive name to the current tab.


By default, QuadKonsole will assign four KDE terminal emulation instances to a program window (see Figure 2). If you run QuadKonsole without any command-line parameters, it behaves like the early X Window programs, letting the focus follow the mouse. Pressing [Ctrl]+[Shift] and the arrow keys shifts the focus between the terminals.

Figure 2: QuadKonsole aligns multiple terminal windows in a grid within a window.

If you frequently need to build programs from the source code, QuadKonsole can make life easier for you. You just need to open the installation guide in one terminal window, run ./configure in another terminal window, and then build and install any libraries or programs you need to resolve dependencies in a third window.


YaKuake has a setup menu that appears when you click the small arrow in the program's status bar. Settings like the background, font, and code page are taken from Konsole. To customize settings, right click a terminal window and select from the drop-down menu.

The context menu also supports size and position settings for the program window. YaKuake will always pop up at the top edge of the screen by default. The height, width, and position settings are relative to the screen border.

You can use Roll up on focus loss to customize the program's behavior. If you remove the checkmark, YaKuake will remain active without the focus. However, this option doesn't really make much sense as the YaKuake program window always hides other windows. The configuration menu also takes you to dialogs that allow you to configure the keyboard shortcut for launching YaKuake, or define other keyboard shortcuts.

QuadKonsole only supports command line-based parameterization. The parameters --columns and --rows specify the number of columns and rows the program will use to display console windows. Avoid setting up more than 16 simultaneous windows; besides slow response, this will clutter up the screen and make the output difficult to read.

Right-clicking a console window opens a context menu in which you can set the color, code page, keyboard assignments, and font. To store your preferred settings permanently, select Settings | Save as Default. The settings apply to all console windows; you can't save settings for individual windows.

To modify QuadKonsole's focus behavior, specify the --clickfocus parameter at the command line. This sets the focus to any terminal window you click.


YaKuake is practical for Linux users who occasionally need to enter a command in a console window, but prefer not to leave a terminal window open permanently to do so. The program helps you keep track of any program output that occurs. In contrast to this, QuadKonsole is the ultimate kick for terminal fans, giving users the ability to track output in multiple terminals, which is useful when building software. This said, the program does lack a convenient method of configuring individual terminal windows and storing the configuration.

[1] YaKuake: http://yakuake.uv.ro
[2] QuadKonsole: http://nomis80.org
[3] Ubuntu packages for QuadKonsole: http://pkg.marisil.org