J. R. Swab

T-UI, The Terminal Launcher For Android

Categories: [Technology]

What Is T-UI?

T-UI, developed by Francesco Andreuzzi, is a launcher for your android devices that emulates the Linux command line interface. We talked about how awesome the terminal is in the past. Check out that post if you want to learn more. T-UI takes that utility and sets it as your launcher. It looks identical to the terminal on any Unix-like system with a few tweaks for ease of use via a mobile device.

If you are a Linux user spending a lot of time in the terminal this launcher will tickle a fancy you never knew you had. It is easy enough to use for us hackers but most will have no idea what to do. An extra security feature maybe? Seriously though, I don't have many people in my group of friends that would understand what to do if they had to use my device now that I am using T-UI.

In true Linux fashion, T-UI has customization to your hearts content. You can see a lot of amazing layouts that people have made over on the Google+ page for the project. You can change the background from the plain black to another color or set a background image. It also looks like you can change the style of the font. Most of the quick customization options are found in the settings.txt file which are accessed from a single command.

I just started using T-UI and love it so far. There is no need for all the fancy icons and screen animations. To be honest, I never noticed those animations. Having a bunch of icons made it easy for me to hop on my phone and look for something to do.

I found since using this launcher over the default has helped me realize that I use my device as a boredom crutch. Now when I open my mobile, I can tell I was doing it out of habit with no real reason or end goal. Talk about an unexpected consequence!

What Is An Android Launcher?

There are many launchers for Android devices to download and every device comes with one pre-installed. This is like a window manager but not an exact copy. If you are on iOS, this kind of stuff is not possible and I recommend any nerd on an iPhone to pick up a good $500 device and make the switch. You can do so much more on an Android phone or tablet.

Typically, your default launcher will have customization abilities for you to tweak. The number of options is limited and you will find many more settings in a third party launcher. To use the third party launcher all you need to do is enable it in settings.

At the time of writing this, the newer versions of Android will ask you what launcher you want to use after installing the new one and pressing the home button.

Using a third party launcher from the Play Store, fDroid, or online APK download, allows you to edit more than you might have thought was necessary. One thing you can change is the app drawer to make it slide up and down, side to side, and make it a dark or light theme.

You can also change the shape of the screen folders, the size of the icons, and the style of the search bar. The options seem endless and there is no way I can cover them all. If you are looking for this level of customization, try a launcher that has a ton of good reviews.

Third party launchers is not for everyone and even I stuck with the default ones that came with my devices until now. I have used a bunch in the past to see if I would like the changes they offer. However, I always ended up right back where I started and uninstalled the downloaded launcher a few days later.

We will see if I stick with T-UI once I give it a far run for its money. I am more excited about this one since it appeals to my inner nerd at such a deep level.

How To Use T-UI.

Since T-UI is different from any other launcher you can download, let's go over how to use the app.


An alias gives you the ability to make a custom command out of a set of characters. As an example, let's say you ping a server often to make sure it is still online. Instead of typing ping -c 5 myserver.com you can tell T-UI to run that every time you type 'ps' by editing the alias.txt file and adding ps=ping -c 5 myserver.com. You open the file by typing alias -file. Or you can typing alias -add ps ping -c myserver.com on the command line.


Another awesome feature is the ability to see your notifications in the terminal window that is now your home screen. To enable this option, use the command config -set show_notifications true and then reset, so the changes go live. After the reset has finished, you will have to tell your device to allow T-UI notification access. Notification are customization friendly so let the creativity fly!


Miss the app drawer and don't know what the name of that new app you downloaded is? Have no fear! Type apps -ls and all the apps you installed will list out in alphabetical order. You can hide or show an app with apps -uh [name] to unhide a hidden app and apps -h [name] to hide the app. You can show your hidden apps by running apps -sh.


The files for customizing T-UI are found in the T-UI folder. The exact location of this folder may vary per device so you will have to do a little digging. Inside the folder you will find:

behavior.xml -> define the behavior of t-ui in many situations cmd.xml -> behavior of some commands suggestions.xml -> color of text and background of suggestions theme.xml -> color of ui elements (input, bg, output, ...) toolbar.xml -> options for toolbar ui.xml -> enable/disable ui elements, define some behaviors

You can also use commands to change these settings by running config -set optionName value. As an example, if you want to use the device font instead of the mono spaced font that comes with the app you would run config -set system_font true.

This is not an exhaustive list of the things you can do in T-UI. If you want a ton more information check out their Github Wiki. It is a well covered document and reading over the information there will show you that this launcher is no joke.

Links to the project:

Google Play Store fDroid

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