How to turn off gnome-terminal's cursor blinking

February 21, 2009

For the purposes of turning off the irritating blinking cursor, there are three generations of gnome-terminal (so far; the Gnome people may yet change their minds again), each of them with a different way to do this. So it goes like this:

  • in the original version of gnome-terminal, there is a direct preference for this; in the General tab of each profile there is a 'Cursor blinks' option.

  • in the intermediate version of gnome-terminal, there is no option in gnome-terminal to control this; you have to turn it off by turning off a general Gnome setting. In the General tab of the Keyboard preferences (System → Preferences → Keyboard), turn off 'Cursor blinks in text fields'.

    (Yes, this is obscure. Apparently terminals are 'text fields' nowadays, at least to Gnome.)

    This has the side effect of disabling blinking cursors everywhere in Gnome, including in your web browser. Since I spend a lot more time in gnome-terminal than filling in forms in my browser and I absolutely hate blinking cursors in terminal windows, this is a tradeoff that I reluctantly live with.

  • in the modern version of gnome-terminal, there is a hidden gconf setting that controls this if you don't want to turn off the Gnome-wide setting. Fire up gconf-editor, navigate to apps/gnome-terminal/profiles/Default, and set the cursor_blink_mode key to have the value of 'off'. If you have any other profiles, you will have to create and set this key in them as well.

    (It probably will be inherited by any new profile that you create after making this change, but I haven't tested this; all of my profiles are old.)

In terms of what distribution has what version of gnome-terminal: Fedora 8 and Ubuntu 6.06 LTS have the original version, Ubuntu 8.04 LTS has the intermediate version, and Fedora 10 has the modern version. Only the original version pays attention to the preference it sets; the other two versions silently ignore it.

(See this Gnome bug and its links for the history. This Ubuntu bug has more than enough comments that summarize my view on the whole situation.)

Written on 21 February 2009.
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Last modified: Sat Feb 21 00:55:36 2009
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