KiTTY – The Pretty Terminal Emulator

Posted: February 11, 2012 in Productivity
Tags: , , ,

I do most of my coding at work on a Linux server. My laptop at work runs Windows 7 and I can’t do much about it. So enter PuTTY – the ubiquitous terminal emulator for Windows. But I miss the eye candy of gnome terminal. PuTTY intentionally doesn’t support transparency or background images. So enter KiTTY – the slightly unstable and bloated PuTTY derivative that supports transparency, background images, automatic passwords, executing commands on remote machine among other things.

Get your copy of KiTTY here. Now let’s enable transparency and other eye candy. By default KiTTY doesn’t display options for setting background images. We can enable it by setting it kitty.ini file. That file is located on my Windows 7 PC at

 C:\Users\user_name\AppData\Roaming\KiTTY\kitty.ini.

Set this value to yes for KiTTY to enable setting background images.

backgroundimage=yes

The option will be available under the category “Window” as shown. Select your favorite image as the background and set a comfortable transparency level. Different profiles can have different images and other settings.

Screenshot of setting background image and transparency in KiTTY

If you want to dynamically control transparency of KiTTY, set this variable in kitty.ini

transparency=yes
transparencyvalue=0

If you are setting the background image and transparency, this option is not needed. This option is needed only if you want to change transparency dynamically. Ctrl + Up/Down increases/decreases transparency of the current frame.

Something that bothered me now was that KiTTY was capturing some of my key chords (Ctrl + arrow keys) instead of passing it on to the application on the remote server (screen in my case). Disabling shortcuts in kitty.ini solves this problem (you do lose all KiTTY shortcuts, which I don’t miss).

shortcuts=no

You can set post login commands which will be executed on remote machine after login. This is useful for stuff that cannot be done in .bashrc like becoming root. A command like this

"\psu\n\proot_pass\n"

would do the trick. The command is to be entered in the “Data” section of the config as shown. For details of what “\p” and other escape sequence stands for, check here.

Screenshot of KiTTY setting post login auto-commands

Even though KiTTY can save your login and password, I prefer using username@host.com and a putty private key file. Use PuTTY KeyGen to generate a private key/public key pair. Put the public key in ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file on a separate line on the remote machine. Give the path of the private key to KiTTY under “SSH->Auth” as shown. More details can be found here. It is worth the effort of creating a private key/public key pair for two reasons – 1) It is more secure 2) Even if the server takes time to respond, authentication will happen with the ppk file. KiTTY waits a certain amount of time and just pushes the password. If the server is taking time to respond, the password sent is lost and will have to be manually entered. Having a private key (ppk file) doesn’t have this problem, since it’s triggered by the server requests for authentication and not a predetermined timer.

Screenshot of KiTTY setting private key for authentication

Also if you plan to view X applications over the session, enable X forwarding (reverse ssh tunneling) under “SSH->X11” as shown.Screenshot of KiTTY enabling X forwarding (reverse SSH tunneling)

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Comments
  1. nolsen311 says:

    Have you ever run across any software to allow viewing remote X sessions on a Windows PC? It would be fantastic to remote X, but via Windows…

  2. gilles says:

    Thanks for this useful page!

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