In many terminals and terminal emulators, it is possible to specify a background image. I've seen some setups where-in this background image was even dynamic. Is it possible to watch a preset command or set of commands in the background as if it were an image, either in a native terminal or in a terminal emulator?

I would like to do something like run htop in the background, where it would most likely not be interactable but where I could see the real-time output, or to be able to watch a command tailing a logfile.

Is this possible?

  • 4
    You can open multiple konsoles(terminals) and play with their opacity.
    – Alex
    May 7, 2017 at 15:52

2 Answers 2


As far as I know, there's no easy/standard way of doing this. Difficulties are you need to run the program, get the output, and maybe make that some sort of picture (background), if you want to redraw normal window operations above it. That would make it a sort of video flux... hard things to build. As Alex's comment says, it's way easier to stack 2 windows and play with opacity, so your window/composite-manager does all the drawing-over-other-drawings, which is its job.

This page mentions options in that direction :

  • xrootconsole
  • Tilda
  • Eterm.

The latter has similar functionality to what you want, but it doesn't seem much maintained, maybe since 2011. I think in all 3 options, you'd have to watch htop > buffer and tail buffer adequately into the dynamic background, but I didn't dive too much into them.

See also this discussion on ycombinator, discussing how to make it into a web page. Plenty of ideas, but many demo links there are dead.


Use Conky to display your htop output on your desktop and change the transparency of your terminal.

  • While this may answer the question, it would be a better answer if you could provide some explanation how to do so.
    – DavidPostill
    Jan 23, 2018 at 16:24

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