terminator vs ubuntu 18/20 - broadcast issue

terminator is a very good graphical terminal emulator for linux. Its main advantage is that it allows to split the screen into several terminal windows and add tabs with additional split screens. On top of that, on can broadcast from one terminal to others.

There is an issue with broadcasting in ubuntu 18.10 with its standard desktop environment. every key that is pressed in the sending terminal is written twice in the receiving ones.

somehow terminator seems to have issues when ibus is involved

we need to make sure that terminator does not use ibus. this is done differently in ubuntu 18 and ubuntu 20:

as pointed out in a comment on a but report related to this issue, one can unset the GTK_IM_MODULE environment variable prior to starting terminator which will work around the problem.

here we need to unset DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS for terminator to work correctly

the problem with the proposed alias is, that this only works if you start terminator through a bash shell. however, if you click the launcher icon in gnome it is ignored.

my solution was to creat a wrapper script /usr/local/bin/terminator whith the following contents:

DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="" GTK_IM_MODULE="" /usr/bin/terminator

don't forget to make it executable :)

chmod 755 /usr/local/bin/terminator

the reason why this is saved to /usr/local/bin is, that this directory is listed in the PATH variable before /usr/bin is listed where the actual terminator binary resides. hence, when someone starts terminator wihtout providing a full path, our wrapper script will be launched first.

you can see in /usr/share/applications/terminator.desktop that the gnome launcher does not call terminator by its full path but rather by the executable name, so our hack will work.

we could have also renamed the actual binary and then saved the wrapper in its place, or we could have modified the launcher file, but both of these solutions will probably brake on each update of terminator, while our little hack, although not pretty, will survive updates as well.

if terminator works with ibus active, you can experience a strange behaviour when using the ctrl+shift+e shortcut to split screens: you will get an underlined “e” and the terminal behaves strange until you press escape. this is because this same shurtcut is used by ibus to write emojis. you can change the ibus shurtcut by running


then go to the emoji tab and either change or remove the shortcut

  • terminator_vs_ubuntu_18.10_-_broadcast_issue.txt
  • Last modified: 28.12.2021 13:07
  • by Pascal Suter